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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Entry Forty One: Taking Refuge

The young Lieutenant anxiously paced the small dark corridor that lead to her temporary apartment. Once inside, she closed the door and leaned her back against it, staring at the lavishly decorated room. Gallente in design, obnoxiously luxurious.

Her refuge, at least for the moment.

She moved over to the bed and sat, her hands stretching out, lightly trailing across the rich satin bedspread.

She activated the camera drone and started to talk, all of her problems came tumbling out at once.

"I don't know how I ended up here, I never meant to take him up on his offer. I never really meant to use the security codes he gave me, the access to his carrier. It's gallente for god's sakes. It's VETO...."

She shook her head in disbelief, wondering how things could have spiraled so far out of control. "Vince gave me access a few weeks ago when I told him I was in trouble but I never really thought I'd use it. I always assumed there would be somewhere else to go, someone else to trust."

"But just in case, I kept the codes, never really thinking I'd have to use them."

She paled as memories flashed through her mind rapidly. "But here I am and I don't know what to do from here, I don't know who to trust, or how to fix this."

"I'm only a Lieutenant JG. That's one step above the lowest rung on the ladder, but it does come with certain responsibility. An officer, even the lowliest of the low, cannot stand by and watch as a one ensign attacks another."

"Even if it means her own downfall."

Frustrated tears spilled down her cheeks. "We were in the Pax, not together or anything, just happened to both show up there. He was already talking with Jhaelee, and I could tell he was in a bad mood so I just stayed away. After a few drinks and a bit of eavesdropping I heard him insult Jhae so I tried to lighten the situation. I asked him if he'd come dance with me. He blew me off, fine, whatever, be a jerk, I don't care."

"The Captain was there too, so I just stepped away again. If things got out of hand it would be on her shoulders to intervene."

"A little later the Captain leaves and things start to really get out of control. I'm standing over by the minibar when I hear tables crashing and I turn to see Raphael lunging at Jhaelee! He had her by the shoulders by the time I got to him. I was screaming at him to let her go and he was ignoring me. He was screaming at her and so I started to just hit him, forcing him to drop her. I stepped in front of him while yelling at her to get the hell out of there. He then grabbed me and held me midair, and the way he looked at me, it all came flashing back. That night with his hands around my throat, the murderous look in his eyes. I knew he would stop at nothing to get to Jhaelee, even if it meant harming me."

She sniffled, "Finally she got away and he dropped me and I just ran."

"I couldn't believe it. How things had changed in the space of twenty four hours. One moment we are at the Opera and he is telling me the sweetest things...and the next day we are completely falling apart."

"I left low sec and went to Amarr, just needing some space, away from him, away from everyone."

She was silent for a moment, lost in thought. "Maybe I was just hiding from him."

She wiped her tears away with her sleeve. "He found me the next day.. I don't even know how he found me."

There was a pounding at her apartment door on Amarr. She opened it apprehensively. Her gaze locked on his, fear slithered down her spine as she stared at him.
He pushed past her, inviting himself in. "Why'd you stop me? You have no idea what her family has done to me!"
She left the door open and leaned against it, folding her arms across her chest. "You would have your justice on an innocent? Her family is responsible, but that does not make HER responsible!"
He spun around to look at her. "Don't give me that shit! The way she carries herself, I know she's just like the rest of them!"
"You're a fool to judge someone by someone elses sins."
"You're the fool. Her brother practically destroys my way of life, and after I joined the Praetoria, she's not far behind! I don't know what the hell her family has against me, but I'll be damned if I let her do shit to me!"
She flinched at his tone, "So whats your big plan, you will kill her? Will that make everything better for you?"
"It'll give me some peace of mind, yes!"
"You know I can't do that...you know that I cannot let you murder an innocent..."
"Innocent? What makes her so goddamned innocent!?"
"And what makes her guilty other than her last name? Can you prove shes had any part of it?"
"She had the goddamn gloves! She had in her possession the remains of the catastrophe!"
"That doesn't make her guilty!"
"Since when does possession of damning evidence not make her guilty? Where the hell did you grow up!?!"
"Please don't yell at me, I've done nothing to you. If you want to kill her then do so. I'm washing my hands of it. Of you, of her, of it all."
"It's about time you started to mind your own business. That little bitch is mine the next time I see her." He moved toward the door.
Shalee moved out of the way to let him pass.
He paused as reached the door, his head turned to look at her. "So you chose her over me. I guess you've found that what you thought you felt for me was false." He snorted. "And you had been so sure of yourself beforehand."
A look of misery washed over her face. How could he say such things? "How can you believe I'm choosing sides because I don't want to be a party of you MURDERING someone!" She inhaled a shakey breath then exhaled slowly, trying to keep her temper from spiraling out of control. "I trusted you, but now I'm afraid of you. And I can't reach you, you'd soon as kill me to get to her and I know that."
He frowned at her words. His voice softened considerably. "You're...afraid of me? And you know I wouldn't kill you..." His mind flashed back to the time he had his fingers around her throat. Something inside of him had wanted to kill her, but he hadn't. He had let her live. "I would never kill you..." he repeated, somewhat unsure himself.
She shook her head as the pent up emotions from she'd been carrying suddenly hit her. Her blue eyes filled with tears though she would not cry. Instead she blinked several times as her vision blurred. "Would you not? If I stood in the way? Last night..." She shook her head again "...I've never been so afraid of you. You didn't even see me, I couldn't reach you! It was as if I didn't even exist, Raphael."
He frowned, his anger slowly rising again. "What her brother did to me is unforgivable! All of my father's work was destroyed! His legacy in ashes! I almost died myself, with all of my friends, my family. I'll never be able to forget it."
"And you shouldn't. But take your vengence where it is appropriate. Against her BROTHER, not her."
"To me, they are one in the same."
"Are they? And should I be held accountable for the sins of my Father? If so, please go ahead and do what you wanted before, kill me now. Because I would deserve it. Go on. If you're so fucking keen on killing someone, do it."
"What are you going on about? I do not know your father, or any of the things he has done."
She stared at him, her voice hinted with a challenge, her body tensed as she spoke, knowing that it would make him even angrier "He is the kind of man you hate. Wealthy beyond belief, powerful. A slaver. He had no regard for any life but his own and his *male* heirs. He killed." Her voice was cold "Murdered so many people I can't even begin to remember. Made us help him. Taught us everything."
Raphael stood silent for a moment, not knowing what to make of what she said. "So you're telling me you're a noble as well? You?"
"I tell you that I've murdered and you focus on the fact that I once was noble...?"
"We kill everyday, Shalee. Kill thousands of crew aboard the TLF ships. Death surrounds us all."
"Do we drink their blood? Do we perform rituals with it? Do we slice open pregnant women just because the blood of an infant is prized more so than anything else?" Her voice dropped to a whisper.
"What....what the *fuck* are you talking about?" His face twisted into revoltion at her words.
She said nothing.
He stared at her, digesting her confession, imagining the rituals she spoke of. "My God...."
She trembled as he dragged his gaze across her, knowing that he was disgusted. All kinds of emotions assaulted her at once. Fear, loathing, anger, pride, hurt. "Before I was ever introduced to society I was introduced to 'prayer time'." She looked away, unable to bear him looking at her like that. "Its what he called our time in the chapel. Our 'sacrifices' to God, we'd send them to heaven, you see. Their bodies, what was left? That was just....a vessel, something discarded, and God doesn't care about that, or so he told us." She whispered again, "You can't even imagine the things I can do with a knife."
He dropped his jaw, realizing that he didn't know her at all. She might as well as be a total stranger. He finally tore his gaze away from her, saying nothing as he started to exit.
"Raphael..." He stopped despite everything inside him yelling to keep going. He stood there, still looking down the hall, waiting for her to speak.
Silence filled the air for a long moment as she struggled to find the words "You can't kill her for what her *family* has done and let me live ...knowing the things *I* have done."
"Despite the utterly horrible, despicable things you have done, Shalee, they were not against me and mine."
"So thats how it is?"
"Perhaps...if I did not feel the way I do about you, I could hate you. But I have no such attachments to Lieutenant de'Auvrie."
She exhaled a sharp breath. "I don't know what to say. It's as if I don't know you at all." And he probably felt the same way. "But I can't knowingly let you murder her."
"What power do you have to stop me?"
"I'll..I'll go to the Admirality if I have to..."
"Do you think they would trust the word of a blooder?"
She tensed again. "You would destroy me as well?"
"I still believe we have something, Shalee. If we go down, it will be together."
"Then *don't* do this. Let her be, take your revenge on her brother, not her. Please Raphael..."
His eyes flashed with anger. "What am I to do, Shalee? I could find no record of her brother once I was able to. Now God has given me a chance to take my revenge."
She darted her tongue out and licked away a tear, "Then you will destroy us all."
"I didn't choose this Shalee. de'Auvrie did. She pushed me this far."
She shook her head, "But you don't have to push back. You can let it go, maybe God brought her into your life so you can find forgiveness instead, maybe theres some other meaning for her being here than simple revenge. But if you do anything to her, then I *will* turn you over to the Inquisition, even if it means my own downfall." And with that she slammed the door.

She leaned back on the bed and stared up at the painted ceiling as tears slid from the corners of her eyes. "He once told me he would protect me...but who will protect me from him?"

For a long moment she laid there, miserable beyond belief, feeling the weight of the galaxy upon her shoulders. "I can understand him wanting his revenge, I do. I don't blame him for wanting justice for his family, his friends. But this isn't the way."

Her thoughts drifted to Vince and the things he had told her. She tried to verify it with Aldrith but the Ensign seemed reluctant to confide in her, and after she told him Vince was a friend of hers, he had walked out on her. She wouldn't ever forget that look of betrayal. She felt as if she had let him down somehow even though she was certain he had done the wrong thing, that he had done something so horrible that Vince had no choice...

Could that be the truth? Could it be as simple as that? Or was she lying to herself? Was it easier to think the worst of Aldrith so she wouldn't have to face this impossible friendship she found herself in with Vince...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Entry Forty: Choices

The camera drone came into focus inside of the Tuomuta spaceport hangar where Shalee was standing in front of one of the industrial fans, cooling off. Her long red hair blew behind her on the breeze in silky waves.

She turned around, letting the breeze blow against her neck as she scooped up her hair.

Raphael had just left a few moments prior."After the opera yesterday, Saint and I went our seperate ways since he had an early patrol and I was on the schedule for later. Anyhow, I dropped by Paradiso, it's a new club that had just opened up recently. I had a few drinks with the proprietor, Tyrias Devereaux. He seemed really nice, we chatted a bit in the VIP section, then Maxx showed up. I danced with Aura, I hadn't seen him in months, we had meet a long while ago at the Paradise Found. It was nice catching up with him."

"Tyrias gave me a tour of the club, offered some of the house amenities, then offered me use of his apartment for the night. Alone, of course, he was staying elsewhere. I was beyond exhausted by that point and spent the night."

"I started my patrols early the next morning, the usual route. I stopped by the capsuleer garden on TZVI after getting a message from Vince asking if I could meet him there. A part of me wishes I hadn't."

"It's not that I wasn't happy to see him...it's just...the things he said. The things he confided in me. There was a moment when I was sitting there, just thinking about what he had said, wondering if it could be true, praying to God that it wasn't."

"But in the end, I had to make a choice, pick a side. Do I believe the word of a pirate or do I turn my back on him and hand him over to the authorities for his cruetly. Cruelty against a corpmate.."

"Oh Aldrith...what have you done?"

Silence filled the air as she stood there, thinking, looking over to the Navy Omen Zenton had given her as a gift that morning.

"So many choices to make lately."

"I spoke with Zenton. I still haven't quite brought myself to say all the words to him that flow through my mind when I am not with him. A part of me will always love him, love the man that he once was. But is he still that man any longer? He makes promises all the time but he doesn't keep them. How can I even trust him? How can I possibly give myself over to him again knowing that we are on two different paths? He is happy with DIA."

She closed her eyes as the cool air flowed over her. "And I am not happy with PIE. I am not happy with my superiors...well, most of them. Suprisingly Mitara has supported me in this whole fiasco. I hadn't expected it even though she had apologized to me recently. It was hard to take her at her word, I had in the past found that she can turn on you when you least expect it. So her personally speaking to me about the matter meant a lot. I have also heard from various ensigns and junior officers who were outraged over it, though really nothing from the brass. Nothing personal anyhow. But that is to be expected. Captain Laerise is favored and I am a poster child for bad behavior. I find it ironic really, seeing how my worst 'crime' is going to a pirate bar to speak to Koronakesh about leaving PIE all of those months ago. They are quick to remember that but easily forget the obscene amount of hours spent on patrols, the countless times I have volunteered for anything asked of me or the corporation. That is forgotten or never noticed since I rarely even see the brass."

She continued her ranting as she threaded her fingers through her hair, pushing it from her face as the fan continued to blow it forward. "I'm not being fair. Admiral Lokri has noticed, but he is the only one. If it wasn't for a message he had sent me last month, I wouldn't even be here. I had decided to resign my commission...I hadn't told anyone but I was just really tired of the 'shadow games' and the backstabbing that I hear about. I mean, if you can't trust your superiors to have your back, then who can you really trust? So I had made up my mind, had worked out in my head what I was to say, logged into the mail system ...and there was a message from the CEO thanking me for my efforts."

"Needless to say, I felt it was some kind of sign and decided to stick it out."

She sighed. "It's just aggrivating really, knowing that my whole PIE career I'm going to have to deal with Captain Laerise badmouthing me. She's going to be there every step of the way, every time I ever come up for rank or promotion, she will be there trying to hold me down."

"Sometimes I think I should just give in and let her win. I mean, it's not like I don't have other places to go. In the last month alone I've had at least ten offers from various corporations. Granted I know it isn't due to my impressive skills on the killboards, but, some are willing to take the time to train me properly. Like Invelious. He said my combat skills were unimportant, that he'd teach me."

She thought about how different things would be if she joined DIA. She could be with Zenton...though Zenton said she belonged in PIE.

Garst said the same thing.

And Raphael.

Her thoughts drifted to the Saint again. "Raphael and I started out on a lie, a ruse because our Commander suggested it. Since then, after spending so much time with him...things have become complicated. I don't know what part is pretend and what is real anymore. I talked to him about it and we decided to take a few weeks to figure things out, see if we are falling in love, if it is real or just some byproduct of a fucked up situation..."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Entry Thirty Nine: Superior Betrayals

Lieutenant JG Lianne paced across her bedroom floor of her hotel room on Amarr, searching for her shoes. She wore an elegant flowing black formal gown with a matching velvet choker snug around her throat that secured a sparkling blue gem in the center. As she turned, the light from the lavish chandliers would reflect against the gem, casting a prism of color across the wall.

Finding her shoes, she knelt down and slid them on, checked the time, then realized she was early.

Pacing over to the floor length mirror, she checked her reflection one last time before settling down on the edge of the bed to pull on her gloves.

"Activate."

The camera drone came into focus."

Raphael suprised me with tickets to the Old Imperial Opera tonight. I don't know what the special occasion is, maybe he saw the report and wanted to distract me from a possible bad mood."

She smoothed her dress as she sat there, anxiously looking to the clock.

"Late last night after patrols, I was half tuned into the PIE Public neo-comm channel as I made my way back to Tuomuta. We had a visitor, an ex- PIE Admiral by the name of Lallara Zhuul. Granted, I did not recognize the name, it has been some time since she has been a part of the Praetoria and I'm not in the habit of checking everyone's previous history, but even if I had known I would have still said what I did."

A sour expression fell across her face. "Miss Zhuul had the audacity to sit there and call the Empress an 'abomination on the Golden Throne', 'the agent of the Deceiver' and went on to claim that the Empire has forsaken God. I waited for a moment, hoping that Lieutenant Hiigaren would put a halt to the heretic remarks and he did not. Instead, he engaged her in conversation."

"At this point I was compelled to say something because we have a strict policy upon joining the channel that states 'comments that are disloyal to the Holy Amarrian Empire, or to our Divinely Appointed Empress will not be tolerated."

"I asked her politely to keep her opinions to herself, to which Lieutenant Hiigaren told me to 'be quiet'. I pointed out the policy of the channel while he went on to inform me that she was an Admiral of PIE once. To which I countered with 'that should not excuse her comments'. He then said he wanted to hear what she had to say."

"I said 'you would like to encourage heresy?' and he went on to sing her praises, saying that he had trusted his life with the ex Admiral."

"I felt that if he wanted to converse with her, he should have done so privately instead of allowing her to mock our Empress and Empire in our public channel."

"Instead of enforcing the rule, Commander Merdaneth felt the need to reprimand me in public, saying I was 'pointing fingers and shouting heresy' and that I was mimicking her 'crude behavior'."

"I pointed out to him that I had not once elevated my voice nor was I crude, that I merely called what she said heresy and thought the rule of the channel should be enforced, a rule implimented by our CEO."

"Lieutenant Hiigaren tried to make light of the situation by calling me 'youthful', as if apologizing to this heretic and seditionist."

She stood and started to pace again, her face flushing with annoyance. "And if that wasn't enough, getting reprimanded by two superiors in public, Captain Laerise then opened up a private comm call with me."

She mentally replayed the conversation.

"Lianne."
"Yes Captain?"
"What the hell do you think you are doing?"
"Pardon?"
"Shut up! I asked you a question and I want an answer."
"Could yo be more specific, Captain? What do I think I am doing in regards to what?"
"Well, for starters what about running around shouting heretic."
"Did you hear what she said, Captain?"
"Yes. Your lack of decorum is shocking. We are Amarr, we are the mountain of God- We are not some pack of Gallente mobsters wielding frying pans."
"So it is customary to sit back and let outsiders degrade the Empress in our public? I merely asked that she keep her opinion to herself. Nothing more."
"I am not interested in your opinion at this point. I do not want to see you utter that word in such a situation ever again while you are wearing our colors. Bring it up to your superior so we can take action."
"As you wish."
"If you are so keen keen on starting a civil war, please leave and go join your suitor Garst. That is not to say that I do not agree with you on certain things, but public places are no forum to call someone a heretic, understood?"
"Please do not imply that there is anything going on between Garst and I. I do not presume to involve myself in your personal life. And yes, understood."
"Good. Do you want anything to the record at this time?"
"Certainly. Calling someone a heretic when they are a heretic should be no crime. And as I said in PIE public, I felt the need to step in and ask that the conversation be halted. No one else seemed interested. We have a policy, it should be respected."
"You are not a member of the council, you have no right to call someone a heretic until they, or your superiors, do Lieutenant. I do NOT want this to spiral out of control, again."
"Very well Captain. Now write a report of what happened, attach the logs and leave it at that."
"As you wish."
"Good, that is all."

Gloved fingers slid through her long red hair. "So not one, but three senior officers felt the need to reprimand me for asking that our Empress's name not be defiled in our public channel. And it's probably a safe bet that the rest of the Admirality will agree with them and that somehow I will be reprimanded even further for it."

She shook her head "I think it appalling." She sighed a sound of frustration, "It's no secret that Captain Laerise dislikes me. And with her remarks 'please leave and go join your suitor Garst', I can't help but wonder if that is how the rest of the Senior Officers feel?"

A knock on the door caught her attention and she started towards it, deactivating the recording drone along the way.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Entry Thirty Eight: A Cruel Place

A camera drone followed her through the Tuomuta hangar as she took inventory. Covered in a thin coating of dust, grime and sweat, she frowned at her distored reflection against a probe launcher. Trailing her hand across her forehead, she pushed her hair out of her face and attempted to pull it back into a ballerina bun, holding it in place with a bit of discarded wiring from one of the nearby containers.

She unzipped the flightsuit and let it bunch around her waist, having a thin tank top on beneath it with the PIE insignia embroidered across the chest.

Fanning her face with a printed out inventroy list, she moved over to 'the table', an upside down parts crate, and sat down to have her lunch."Over the last few days Raphael and I have decided that it should be safe enough to stop spending every waking moment together. We haven't had any visitors. No word from Michael either."

A look of worry washed over her face, "I think he is dead. I don't want to believe it but its been weeks now. I don't want to give up on him...but I don't know what else to do. I don't know where to begin to search for him."

"It's been an impossible situation, the not knowing, feeling helpless, thinking he may be out there somewhere hurting, waiting to be rescued."

"But I do think that if he was alive he would have found some way to contact me by now. He knows I would be worried sick, he knows that I'd be out of my mind with grief by now. That is why I think he is dead."

She picked up a bottle of water and held it absently, staring off at the Navy Slicer Garst had given her."I feel like I have failed him. He trusted me with the truth, he came to before anyone else and..." she shook her head "...and I've failed him."

A few frustrated tears slipped down her face. She quickly swiped them away with the back of her hand. "I think he loved me."The memory of one of their last conversations in St Alms played through her mind.

"Can I ask you an intensely personal question which will no doubt make you exceptionally uncomfortable."
"You may ask me anything."
"How do you feel about me?"
"Why would I be uncomfortable about that? I adore you Michael surely you know that?"
"You adore me. As... as a friend?"
"What do you mean? Of course you're my friend?"
"I just wanted to know.... to know what I was coming back to."
"What do you mean?"
"Many years ago, when men went off to war, they were seen off by their friends, and returned to their wives. Or they were seen off by their wives, and returned to their friends. The point I'm making is that when people are apart for a time, their feelings towards each other may change. I wanted to know if they had."
"Have yours?"
"Shalee...."
"Are you afraid that mine had become something improper?"
"I'm in a combat zone, dealing with lack of nutrition, sleep, and a poor conversationalist. I'm not in the right mindset. Of course, I want companionship. But I'm afraid that, yes, I let my own condition dictate my mental state."
"I think that I know what you mean. Maybe."
"You know as well as I do that war changes the way people think about those they left at home. That's why some return to wives they didn't have when the left, and other returned to friends instead. Suffice it to say, and I feel guilty saying this, but my praying for you wasn't just piousness."
"It wasn't?"
"Don't be shocked, war changes the minds of those within it. I had to ask you how you felt, in order to check myself. To make sure that I really was dreaming it, or if it was reality."
"Im confused."
"I asked if you had feelings for me, in order to see if my feelings were the result of my current situation or if they were real."
"Oh...you think you have feelings for me?"
"Right. But my question was geared more towards finding out of I developed those feelings because I was in a combat situation and miss the comfort of having a relationship, or because I am actually in love with someone who loves me as well."
"So your feelings are based mostly on what I feel?"
"I would say it like this, "It would be inappropriate to have feelings for someone who doesn't feel the same way. Being said, it is far wiser not to show feelings what-so-ever until you're absolutely sure of the other party's."
"But if both people were reluctant to share their feelings then how would anyone ever know?"
"That's the conundrum. I guess it boils down to the subtlety of body language, the inflections of the voice, the finer nuances to the way their eyes move when they're around you."
"I see....I don't know Michael. Ive never ever allowed my thoughts to go there. You are my priest. It seems sinful to think of you in any other way..."
"While it is permissable in all aspects, it may be... uncomfortable a thought."
"I just have never let myself go there in my mind."
"I'm not in my right mind anyway."


She leaned back on the crate and stared at an overhead fan, absently watching the blades circulating the filtered air throughout the hangar. "It's hard to believe in the word, love. People say it but they rarely ever mean it. Or if they do it isn't the same kind of love that you feel. Zenton loved me. But not enough to do the right thing. My love wasn't enough to keep him from piracy, to keep him in PIE. Garst loved me but we are practically strangers now."

Her gaze drifted over to the slicer he had bought her as their last conversation played over and over in her mind like a bad holo drama on repeat.

"I only came here because I wanted to find you"
"Oh? Well, you found me. Is everything alright?"
"Im leaving the Praetoria by the end of this week, and resigning my commission"
"Why?"
"There isnt a place here for me any more. They aren't fighting the war aggressively enough. They are bogged down in excessive tradition and obsolete strategy while our pilots suffer. New Eden is a cruel place. One must be crueler to survive. I've found many likeminded pilots in the Crusade. We're going to work together to bring death to the enemies of Amarr. Nothing more. Nothing less. No mercy expected and certainly none given. Thats why."
"Oh... I wish you luck."
"Why does everyone keep telling me that.."
"What else would you rather I say?"
"It doesnt matter. I just keep getting a feeling of dejavu."
"No. I guess it doesn't matter at all."
"Everyone acts like im never going to come back. Like im flying into a black hole and nothing anyone could say matters."
"Well what did you say when Zenton left? That he left us, remember? You said he turned his back on us, thats kind of how it feels now. But it doesnt really matter, I hardly ever see you anymore anyhow."
"You belong in PIE Shalee. It seems like you and the rest of the Praetorians are more interested in drinking and carousing than throwing back the barbarians at the gate. So yes, you havent seen me lately. And if all you ever frequent is this bar or that club, I dont think you will either."
"How dare you say such a thing to me. I do my duty, I log plenty of flight hours."
"There is only death left for me Shalee. Death and death again. You have too much to live for. You belong with the Praetorians. I'll do the dying so you can keep living your life. Its what I do best"
"Thats not true. Youre no different then any of the rest of us, so don't make yourself out to be some god damned martyr."
"There was a saying that the proctors drilled into our heads at the start and end of every day when I was training in the Theology Council. "Mankind stands on the shoulders of the martyred" Where do you think the martyrs come from Shalee? Thanks to this cu...gift of immortality, I get to fight in ways that previous generations have only dreamed of."
"Fine. Whatever. I hope you're happy wherever you go. Just don't forget about us."
"The only friendship I find is on the battlefield. Im tired of fighting it. Im tired of fighting what I am. A war dog. Nothing more."
"Thats such bullshit. I'm your friend, always have been."
"You said it yourself you never see me anymore."
"Because you are always off with militia. Not because I don't wish to. But. Whatever. It doesn't matter. I really, really do wish you the best...I hope it makes you happy. Anyhow. You know where to find me."
"Yes. With the pirates and scoundrels at the bar. Good bye Shalee. Ill miss you."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Entry Thirty Seven: Sleepless Rambling

A camera drone followed Shalee as she paced the lower decks of the ship they had borded for the night. She couldn't sleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night she had awoken from a nightmare about the Imperial agents and couldn't shake off the feeling of unease. Deciding a walk would clear her head, she grabbed a cigarette and left the room. Not that she had ever been a smoker, until recently that is.

"It's been over a week and no word from Michael. I don't know if he is even alive at this point, I want to believe he is but..."

She glanced away, shaking her head.

"He probably isn't. He probably died alone out there on some goddamned planet in the middle of nowhere and we will never really know what happened."

"I'm just so frustrated over the whole thing. Theres nothing I can do but worry, constantly worry and watch over my shoulder for the next attack."

"How is this happening? How can loyal subjects to the throne be subjected to such horrible mind games? I am a capsuleer for god's sake! I've given everything, my eternal soul, for the goddamned empire and this is how I am repaid? Every day we put our lives on the line to protect imperial sovereignty and this is the gratitude we are shown in return? Michael left abandoned and possibly dead in some unnamed system, Raphael and I threatened and beaten like common slaves. A part of me believes that I've put too much trust in Michael...that maybe he has it wrong. Maybe he isn't working for Her Majesty. Maybe it's all some big fuck up, you know? Maybe he only thinks they are from the Empire? Maybe he wanted to believe it because he really wanted what they were offering him and now he has drug us into this madness and now there is no escape."

She trailed a hand through her long messy hair and paced some more.

"How long is this going to last? I suspect by this point they aren't even worried with Saint and I because they figure we will end up killing each other before too long."

The memory flashed through her mind. Moonlight Sonata played in the background of the Pax Praetoria as his fingers wrapped around her throat, murder glazed over his drunken eyes. He wanted to torture her, to kill her, to smother the very life out of her. Every second stretched by agonizingly slow. She couldn't breathe, not by his force but from her own choking fear. She gasped and then closed her eyes, his face the last image she'd ever see, she thought. The face of her protector. Her murderer. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't go through with it.

Yet, anyhow.

She had nearly driven him to the brink of madness, but he looked at her knew he couldn't go through with it.

Gods how she hated this situation, hated all of the lying. The manipulations. The double life they lived. And she hated herself, hated her weakness, hated being vunerable, of needing him, needing his comfort because he was the only one who really understand the mental torture she was under.

Sleep with me.

She couldn't even bear to sleep alone anymore, not after being drug from her bed by the Imperial agents and having been told they were always watching her, even when she slept. It was humiliating, sickening, to remember his mouth against her neck, his hot breath against her ear, kissing her, whispering to her. Everynight she woke up from a nightmare with his voice still lingering in her mind, him telling her he watched her as she slept and knowing that he was still out there somewhere.

"I make Raphael sleep in the same room as I. I can't stand being alone. I wake up at the slightest of sounds now."

"Sometimes I think he hates me... and it doesn't matter, I still force him to share a room with me because I'm too much of a coward to wake up alone. He probably hates that too. Hates the situations I force him into, simply because I outrank him."

She took a long draw off the cigeratte and sent a plume of smoke spiralling upwards.

"We are almost together twenty four hours a day. Granted not every second because that would be impossible. We have to continue with our duties of course, have to pretend that everything is normal. Pretend, pretend, pretend. Lie. Who cares. What does anyone care about the truth so as long as everything appears normal?"

"So tired of this fucking masquerade."

Another plume of smoke dissolved into the air above.

"We ran into Zenton last night in the Garden of Babylon."

The camera drone recorded several moments of silence as she stood there, looking out a viewport. She darted her tongue out and licked away a tear that had settled into the crease of her mouth.

"I never meant to hurt him. He was going to Aset anyhow but I could see the accusation in his eyes last night. I sent him away. I sent him away so that I could be with Saint."

She shook her head, "He came to tell me he was leaving. He did this. Not me. He put us on this path of seperation." She trailed a frustrated hand through her hair as tears streamed down her face. "He left me when he left PIE. He knew things would change. He didn't love me enough to stay. He didn't love me enough to fly with me, to be with me. It was about what he wanted. He wanted to try piracy and didn't give me one goddamned thought when he left. He did this. He seperated us. Not me. He said he would come back to PIE but he has not. He said he would do anything to be with me but he will not."

She wiped at her cheeks with the back of her hand, "He forgets all of that. He forgets so easily the hell he put me through, those long days where I had no words from him. I had no idea what was going on with him, only that he had left. Everyone looked at me with either pity or accusation. Everyone knowing his security status was dropping more and more, everyone knowing what he was becoming. And they couldn't question him about it, so they looked to me for answers and I had none."

Pacing the corridor again, she inhaled the fragrant smoke and exhaled it slowly, trying to calm herself out of the exhaustive frenzy she was in but failed to do so. Words came tumbling out, all of the things that were wound up in her mind, all of the things she wanted to say to him but couldn't. "Fuck you Zenton for looking at me like that, for accusing me. For not understanding, for not trying. For not caring. For not fighting for us. For three days I abandoned my duty to find you, I never gave up on you. I went to every goddamned pirate bar in New Eden to find you. I never stopped caring, I didn't let you go. Even when you left me I didn't leave you. Even when you told me it brought you pleasure to kill, I never gave up on you. I still loved you god dammit."

Hiccuping, she choked on her words, sobbing. Every pent up emotion from the last few weeks came flooding out. Again she wiped at her cheeks, using her sleeve to wipe away her tears.

"It doesn't matter now. He's left and it's over. And I'm with Raphael."

She laughed at the irony. Raphael, the man who probably loathed her more than anyone ever could.

"I just hope we can find Michael and end this charade. I know he is tired of me, I can see it in his expression. He doesn't even have to say anything. I know... I just feel it. I know he wants his space, his freedom, his life back. Even if any of it was real, he would never love me. He doesn't believe in love."

"We attempt normalcy. We have started going out, but usually it ends up in the silent treatment on the way 'home' because he really doesn't like most of the people I associate with."

"And if we are with the people we know, it is still awkward. We caught up with Garst the other night at My Blue Heaven. Garst was out of it, not drunk, just exhausted. And a little angry at us, not because he knows of the ruse, but because he thinks we didn't miss him all of those weeks he was gone. Saint and Garst argued over other things too but by that point I just sat there with my mouth shut. Thats how they are, apparently. They fight harsly in one moment and in the next are buying each other drinks."

Her pacing brought her to another viewport. She stared out mindlessly, not really noticing the space station they were nearing.

"I used to think I could tell Garst anything. I hate that we are keeping this from him."

"I just don't even know who I can trust anymore. I guess I never really have. Trusted my Father and he betrayed me. Trusted V and he used me. Trusted Zenton and he left me."

She licked her lips, tasting the salty tears, "It isn't a guarantee that I can trust someone just because they are in the Praetoria. And if I can't trust my own corpmates, then how am I supposed to trust Vincent?"

Leaning her forehead against the cool glass, she finally took notice that they were about to dock soon. "He found me in the capsuleer garden inin Tzvi again while I was waiting for Raphael to reship the other night. Vincent could tell I was upset, jumpy. Somehow he got it out of me. Not everything, only that I was in trouble, being followed. Without any details, he offers me help, says he has a ship we can hide out on if I ever am in need of refuge. Just like that, this man is offering to help me...but can I trust him? I don't even really know him... and he is Veto. But so is Davlos."

"At this point I don't even know if they are part of the problem or part of the solution."

"And goddamn Cetes! He fired on Garst the other night. My own corpmate, my friend. How dare he be so brazen, so bold, so heartless. I ran into him in the Gardens and chewed him out for it, swearing I will never speak to him again."

"He simply had no right."

A saccharine-sweet automated voice rang out over the internal intercomm, announcing that they would be docking within the minute.

She terminated the recording and tried to force her emotions under control, knowing that she would have to face Raphael soon for their next round of patrols. She dropped the cigarette and stomped it out with her foot, then made her way back to the captain's quarters, hoping that he was still asleep...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Entry Thirty Six: In the bleaks

"You've only got each other..."

Commander Michael Priboj's words echoed through her mind over and over as she laid there restlessly, trying to fall asleep.

She and Raphael had been inseperable since the incident inside of St Alms, though not by choice. It was an order, one that they were taking very seriously since the discovery of a dead body inside of her apartment a few days prior.

They had dropped by the space station on Tuomuta where she kept a small set of rooms, hoping to be in and out within a few minutes, always cautious that they were being followed.

As soon as they stepped into the apartment she could tell something wasn't right. The stench of death permeated the air. A gallente reporter, Tharn Blash, was unceremoniously laid out across her bed, drapped in stark white Amarrian robes stained with dried blood.

She winced at the memory of it, of her and Raphael having to stuff the body in a crate from her hangar to dispose of it. Unable to sleep, she started to pace the small room and activated the recording drone.

"For a week now I've been living with Raphael. We are constantly on the move, dividing our time between the war zone and exploration, trying to make it appear that everything is normal to the outside world. To explain our being together out of pod, we have to pretend we are a couple though I hardly think we are doing a good job of that."

"Last night we went to the Pax Amarria to relax and ended up arguing. As always. I frustrated him I think to the point he tells me if I think I can make it out on my own, then leave. I start for the door, he grabs my arm. I'm yelling at him and he is demanding an answer to something I wont tell him and bam, in walks Captain Newell."

"We both kind of froze, though he wouldn't let my arm go, wouldn't let me walk out of there without telling him. Captain Newell gave us that I-know-you're-up-to-something look. She starts questioning us, asks if we are involved, to which we have to lie and then she has the nerve to tell me she is going to go to the Admirality about it."

"That was all I needed. My career jeopardised over a fake relationship."

"I lost my temper. However, Raph managed to convince the Captain to let us deal with our problems...so maybe she will stay out of it. Doubtful, but hopefully anyhow."

"Theres just so much going on right now and I don't know who to trust or where to turn. Michael says trust no one other than Raphael...but why should I put my fate into the hands of an Ensign? Why Raphael? Merely because he walked into the Cathedral and overheard a conversation that he shouldn't have?"

She sighed as she walked over to a window and perched down on the bench that stretched out beneath it. Starring out into the blackness of space, she fell silent for a few moments, thinking. "I guess that really that isn't a fair thing to say. He has went out of his way to keep me safe when I'm sure he'd rather just be done with the whole thing."

Leaning her head against the cool glass, her expression betrayed her worry. "Zenton has probably heard of this lie by now and no doubt he hates me for it. I've not had the chance to explain it to him. The one chance I did have in the Garden of Babylon, I lost because I was just so angry with him, we ended up fighting over something else. I should have told him then. I should have just been honest with him despite what Michael says."

"I'm pretty sure I've lost him ...though it is probably for the best. They have already proven they will stop at nothing to keep this quiet. If they will murder a reporter, I'm sure they will have no conscience over killing a capsuleer."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Entry Thirty Five: "I watch you while you sleep"

Twelve hours ago...

She had been hiding in the shadows of St Alms Cathedral as Raphael Saint met with the strange operative that had 'requested' his presence in the PIE public neocomm channel. Candlelight flickered at the windows and around the alter, casting both men in a soft faint light. The cloying smell of incense and flowers wafted through the room, making her nausated, or perhaps it was the sight of Saint getting sucker punched in the gut.

She wanted to scream out, to help him, but he had demanded that she remain hidden no matter what.

Blood dripped from Raphael's nose as the operative pounded his fist against it.Tense with fear, she watched helplessly, waiting for it to be over.

Moments later the operative sent Saint from the cathedral with a warning 'stay out of it or die.'

As soon as Raphael exited, the agent slamed the massive oaken door behind him, then barricaded it with a heavy beam. He walked to the altar and looked around slowly, his eyes changing from an artificial white to a blue due to his ocular implant's scanning mode being activated. He smirked as his gaze settled upon her highlighted form hiding in the shadows.

"You can come out now, sweet puppet. I won't be as rough with you today."

She felt her breath catch as he spoke to her, knowing that she'd been seen and could do nothing but step out of the 'safey' of the shadows to face him.

He blinked, his eyes returning to their normal white shade. "That's better. You look much better in natural light."

She remained silent, watchful.


"Why were you spying in a house of God?"

"I was praying."

"My ears are also augmented just as well as my eyes. I hear it in your voice when you lie. Would you care to try again?" He smiled.

"I was waiting for Saint."

"He seems to have left you in my quite capable care," he said as he took a step towards her.

She dropped her hand to her waist, wrapping her fingers around the hilt of the gun Garst had once given her. "Don't you dare think about touching me again."

"While I would be lying if I said I didn't want to, I dare say that my thoughts are nothing close to causing you harm, sweet puppet. However, you've been here long enough to cause me to think that you know more than you need to."

She glared.

He took another step towards her with his palms up to show that he was unarmed.

"I mean it. Don't you dare touch me." She was already sporting several nasty bruises from the other night.

He paced forward, closing the space between them.

"Stop."

He halted and smiled devilishly.

"Tell me Shalee. How have you been sleeping?"

She lifted her brows, her gaze penetrating, cold and blue. "You don't need to worry about it." Fear rolled through her.

"Oh really? I've watched you sleep a few times. You've even cried out. It would seem that your sleep is not only un-restful... but very disturbing."

"You've been in my apartment more that once...?" She twitched, clearly unnerved.

He nodded and licked his teeth. "I was there just not less than a few hours ago. I dropped a little "incentive present" off to you."

"What?" She paled.

"Someone who decided to de-crypt your message. They knew too much. It is quite a fool-hardy thing you've done. Now... several people must die."

"No! Why?" Her tone desperate.

"Because you've decided not to heed our recommendations." He took another step forward.

"Stop. Don't come any closer. I mean it!"

"Or you'll shoot me?"

"Yes. I mean it."

"Go ahead. Bloody your hands... you deserve it. After all the hell you've been through the past few days, what with an abusive boyfriend, dead bodies dropped in your bed, creepy stalkers watching you sleep, and vicious thugs beating you half to death.. it's your right to shoot someone. It'll be nice to shoot someone who can't shoot back for once, to hurt someone who deserves it." He paced towards her. "To feel the recoil of the gun in your hands... to see my flesh erupt in a fury of red. To know that the threat you face isn't there anymore. You'll feel better. You'll sleep better."

She pulled the gun from her belt "I mean it, I will shoot you if you try to touch me." Her eyes lit with fear. "So stop."

He smiled, then pressed at what at first glace seemed to be a lumenescent part of his collar, causing it to change color. He pulled at his collar and his top garment came undone along an here-to-fore unseen seam. He loosened it to his hip and pulled it apart. His chest was paler than his face, rippled with lines of blackened veins and stark white surgical scars. "Go ahead.... shoot me."

He took a final step foreward with his hands at his side, standing about three feet away from the end of the muzzle.

"What are you, some kind of monster?" She lifted the gun and aimed it at him. "I want to leave, and I don't want you to follow me..." She took a step backwards, her entire body tense.

"Monster? No. I'm an augment. I'm the next generation of Amarrian combat personel. A proto-type if you will." He stepped forward as she stepped away, keeping the distance between them relatively close.

"Stop!"

"Shoot." His mouth twisted with a mocking smile.

"Why? Why do you want me to kill you? Why."

"I want you to shoot me. I don't expect you've got the capability to kill me."

She trembled ever so slightly as a trickle of sweat beaded across her forehead. She felt hot and cold at the same time. Her finger curled against the trigger, though not yet pulling it. "Last chance. Step away."

"No."

She closed her eyes as she pulled the trigger.

He saw the muscles in her forearm tense and stepped to the left just as the beam seared the air where he once was. Quicker than the eye could see he stepped the final step, pushed up with one hand on the bottom of the gun and pulled down with his forearm across the crook of both her elbows effectively bringing the still warm muzzle of the gun underneath her chin. His hand atop hers, both fingers on the trigger, he moved fluidly, ending up behind her, flush against her back.He laid his head on her left shoulder, his breath cold against her neck. "The next generation of combat personel. I'd have thought you'd have had more brains than this. I can think faster than you, move faster than you. I can see more than you can, hear more than you can, smell more than you can. And because of your own self-centeredness... you're now in a dangerous place. A laser at your chin and an enemy at your back. The last thing you'll see, will be that altar. I hope it brings you solace and comfort in the next few moments."

She winced as she felt the muzzle underneath her chin. Her body trembled with uncontrollable fear. "Then do what you came to do, monster. Kill me."

"I aim not to kill you... but allow you a chance to be reborn. Join us. Help us get Michael to complete his mission and we'll provide you with augmentations that will make you more powerful than anything else in the cluster. Including me."

"Help him how?"

"Firstly.... stop communicating with him."

"Don't ask that of me. I'd rather die."

"There are things worse than death."

"Like not communicating with Michael. Don't ask that of me."

"It's a difficult choice to make. I understand if you can't make it all at once. There are alot of variables that must be factored in. Tell you what... I'll give you a day to decide. But I warn you, anything fool-hardy like you pulled last night and we may just have to terminate Michael's mission because of compromised security. Terminating Michael's mission would be very bad for him. Very bad indeed."

She answered in a dull tone that she hoped hid her consuming fear, "Very well."

He kissed her on the neck, then continued a path of kisses to her earlobe. He gingerly nibbled it. "I've always enjoyed the taste of fear. Good night, sweet puppet."

He reached up with his free hand and jabbed her on the side of her neck, immobilizing her for a few seconds, giving him enough time to step into the shadows and disappear completely.

____

"Take me away from this place."Raphael had carried her to the shuttle after rescuing her from the cathedral, lying her down as the door closed behind him. "Shalee, you alright?"

She shook her head no as she pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs. She propped her chin up on the top of her knees and stared at him, her face tear stained. "Hes crazy."

He frowned. "Yeah, I didn't take to kindly too him either. Why didn't you get out when I told you?"

"I didn't want him to see me, I was waiting for him to leave...but he knew I was there.

He sighed as he sat down beside her, "I shouldn't have left ...and I shouldn't have brought you with me."

Shalee blinked several times, trying to keep the tears from falling. "Hes been in my apartment many times. He has watched me sleep." Her face twisted into an expression of misery. "God." Her gaze locked on his "We have to stay together now. You can't leave me.. you can't, say you wont. I don't wont to be alone."

He placed a hand on hers. "I won't. Just don't run off anymore, like you did today. I know it has nothing to do with what happened, but I don't want him to catch you alone either." He lifted his other hand above his mouth, pulling his bloodied fingers away, examining them.

"You're bleeding. Oh god. Are you okay? Did he hurt you very badly?"

"No, I think he just broke my nose."

"Want to go to the medical facility to have it looked at? I think we should...and then I think we should decide what we are going to do."

He shook his head. "No, just give me a second." He played with his nose for a second, wincing in pain, before wrenching it to the side, putting everything back into place. "Now, yes, just what are we going to do?"

She winced and looked away, practically feeling the pain of it herself. "I don't know. I don't where to go or who to tell. Who to trust. They are everywhere, seems no place is safe."

"You know the Commander best, and I'll let you decide. I'll back you up on whichever path you choose. I betrayed your trust once, I won't do it again."

"I dont know. I dont know what to do, but I know we cant leave him out there to die can we?"

He stared at the wall intently. "No. I might not like him for putting us in this position, but I do not wish him to die. We can't leave him."

"He is a good man, he doesnt deserve to be out there all alone. We're all he has at the moment, we can't abandon him." She tried to think of their immediate problems. "Where should we go? We can't go back to my apartment. Yours is probably compromised too. Where do we go from here?"

"Well, if we wanted absolute secrecy, I have a few ships fitted with cloaks. We can cloak, and I can order the crew to go radio silent."

"Do you trust your crew completely?"

"We can sleep on an Aegis ship. I trust those crews with my life."

"Alright. Take us there." She was still a complete wreck, trembling, trying to calm down. "Nobody is going to believe us."

He placed a hand on her shoulder before walking into the cockpit to tell the pilot where to go.

She watched him walk off and almost decided to follow him. She did not want to be alone, but at the same time she didnt want him to think she was weak. And so she stayed.

Moments later he returned. Not knowing exactly where the two stood anymore, he took a seat on the opposite bench. "You'll like Aegis. Lots of good, hard working people. I'm sure you'll get along just fine."

She stood and moved over to him, sitting beside him, her side flush against his, just needing to touch someone safe. "Im sure I will."

Surprised by the move, thinking that their friendship was long lost, he ventured putting an arm around her shoulder and pulled her a bit closer. "I'll protect you, Shalee. On my life."

"I know."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Entry Thirty Four: St Alms

Seventeen hours earlier...

She stood in the foyer of the St Alms, having walked in on a holgram acoloyte speaking with Raphael Saint. Assuming it was Michael incognito, she waited until he could come speak to her in private. Moments later the acoloyte made his way to her.
"Shalee.... thank God."
"Michael! Oh god I've been so worried are you alright? Are you coming back? Whats going on?" Her voice a soft whisper, not wanting Saint to overhear.
"My situation has gotten worse. My lone companion has died. He never was one for conversation, but at least he could alternate the watch with me. Now, I'm stuck to using proximity sensor grids and stims to keep track of the natives."
"Please come home. Whatever it is it's not worth it..."
"They've, thankfully, stopped attacking us. But they definately know we're here. I'm afraid they might let slip to the Jovians my location before I can complete my objective. I want so badly to return home. I can only imagine how terrible it is for you all without me." He grinned.
She sighed, forcing a faint smile. "I'm so worried. You have no idea whats going on here, I am not even supposed to be talking to you..."
"You're telling me. Remember that I'm on a god-forsaken rock half on the other side of the cluster camping out with the local three-legged natives who would rather eat me than see me while waiting for a jovian scientist. Wait.... why can't you talk to me?
She pulled her cloak open, baring one side. Beneath she wore her flight suit. Unzipping it to her waist, she tugged it open, showing him bruises along her ribs. "The men who did this."
"My word.... what happened?"
"I had a little visit from your 'friends'.."
"Bah!," he exclaimed, a little too loud, then stepped in closer to whisper again. "They're no friends of mine. They're a wretched excuse for a....well... For a whatever they are."
She whispered, "They dont want me talking to you or anyone about you."
"Government organization, religious order, fanatics, terrorists.... fools the lot of them. They really do want my mission to succeed. And I can't say I don't blame them. The cure for the Jovian sickness would be a powerful political tool to bring to the bargaining table in exchange for Jovian technology."
"So what now? Just wait it out?"
A smile played across his mouth "Did they leave you a method for contacting them?"
"No they just show up randomly."
"Have you made any reference in your logs to our conversations?"
"Logs? You mean my private logs? Um...probably so. Why?"
"Lay everything out in a private log, encrypt it as heavily as you can, and send out several hundred of your logs to every news agency you can think of. Give hard copies to your servants and several paid strangers and have them send them out to the news outlets as well. Eventually the outlets will crack the code, but by that time... I'll already be back in Amarrian space. I can "disprove" the whole thing."
"But I don't understand...in case they should kill us?"
"However, you can send the encryption codes to the news outlets if you don't get what you want from... my friends. They'll see you send your logs out, I'm sure. So they'll know you've got leverage over them."
"And what would I even ask them?"
"They'll contact you again not long after that and ask you what you want. Shalee... I have no method of returning to Amarrian space. I was shot in a magrail capsule to this rock.... there's no ship to take me back. Except the Jovian's. And can you really see me, or anyone for that matter, taking a jovian vessel single-handedly and piloting it back to Amarrian space? They want me to die out here... but I don't know why."
She paled, "They meant for you to die there? Oh god. No. No you will not die there, absolutely not."
"Then get me out of this damn place."
"Yes of course I will! I will find you, do you even know the name of the system?"
"As long as we hold the chips in our hand, this organization must bow to our wishes. Ask them to come and get me."
"I don't trust them to."
"I can't let you risk yourself for me."
"Michael I'm already at risk."
"If you send out your logs and then come on out after me, what's to stop them from blowing you to smithereens in space and making it look like a gate malfunction?"
"Maybe they wont know when I come for you, I'll get someone else to bring me. I know people...people not connected with PIE..."
"If they can find you in your quarters, you can be tracked no matter the ship. It might be better for you to send your logs, then stay in public as much as possible."
"As you wish." She sighed softly.
"It'll draw them into contacting you without beating the crap out of you. Forcing them to come and get me out of this hell-hole, and keeping both of us safe."
Raphael Saint finished his prayers and looked to the alter, his gaze lingering on it before he stood and headed for the exit. He entered into the foyer and stopped, seeing the acolyte and Shalee. He hesitated for a second, seeing what looked to be a serious conversation between the two then continued walking, hoping to reach the exit behind Shalee without ever making eye contact.
She nodded to Michael then fell silent as she saw Saint. "Ensign."
Michael turned towards Raphael while stepping away from her, attempting to pass off the conversation as nothing more than a meeting between Priest and congregant.
Raphael came to a stop, thinking they were acting a little too suspicious. He turned his gaze to Shalee "Lieutenant."
The holo-image rippled.
"So...giving counsel to the Lieutenant, Acolyte?"
"Yes. She's proving to be an adept pupil of Father Priboj's brother."
"Oh? And just what was the problem, if you don't mind me asking?""
"Problem?" She looked at Raphael, clearly annoyed.
"That's.... umm... a good priest never breaks confidence."
Saint narrowed his gaze. "It seems the Lieutenant is not even aware of a problem."
"Rule number one actually. It's what Michael taught me," she said with a tone that made her annoyance at his disruption evident.
"Right. That's exactly what Michael taught her."
"Oh? Are you an expert on what he has taught her?" Raphael inquired.
"It's none of your business what he and I talk about unless you want to tell me what you and he were talking about first," she retorted.
"How do you know I was even talking to him?"
"I overheard you when I came in."
Saint frowned, "Sneaking about, are we? Is there a particular reason this congress was held in the entranceway of the Church?"
"I'm not sneaking about. Anyhow I wanted to talk to him in private."
He crossed his arms, unconvinnced.
Michael crossed his arms as well, intending it to be a stalemate... instead, his holo-image rippled again."
Saint looked over, quite certain of what he had seen now. "Enough of this charade. What is going on, Lieutenant?"
She lifted her chin, assuming an arrogant expression, annoyed. "Don't presume to ask me what is going on, I don't answer to you."
"Answer me, Shalee."
The holo-image backed away from the pair.Raphael Saint pointed his hand at Michael. "Don't you move! And don't you dare deactivate! You're not going to want to leave her alone with me." His face flushed with anger.
"DO you really think that you can harm either of us? As we're both holo-images?"
"Ensign! I suggest you watch your temper, " she yelled out the order.
"You seem to have figured all of this out. So tell me.... what do you think is going on Ensign Raphael Saint of PIE Inc"
He yelled at Shalee. "Quiet! I won't brook any insolance here, regardless of your rank." he looked to the holo-image. "I am quite certain she is here, holo..." he trailed off as the holo addressed him by his name and rank.
"Well? You seem to have it all figured out. Do tell." Michael stepped forward, a few feet closer to Raphael.
"You...you're not going to wrap me into this either. I don't care what faction you are from, but this meeting is not going to end well." Saint looked to Shalee. "Have you been feeding him information on all of us? Who're you spying for!?"
"Spying?"
"You don't scare me, Holo. Approach as much as you like." His gaze lingered on the Lieutenant. "So, this is why you have been out of sorts. And it certainly explains a lot. Goddamn you Shalee."
"No goddamn you Raphael, how dare you speak to me in such a tone, and who are you to suggest such a thing. Do you not trust me at all?"
"You will stop addressing me unless I address you first. No more games." Saint said to Michael, his expression grim, then turned to Shalee again. "You! You're the one, getting friendly with everyone, asking them personal questions. I thought you were just friendly, but now I see. And Zenton, your precious boyfriend...well, we got him out of PIE, but he still spies on the militia. Now I know why I saw Koronakesh at that decripid Arbitrator. It's all falling into place."
Micahel laughed, the sound filling the small cramped space of the entrace quickly, echoing throughout the church. "Ensign.... you really do have alot to learn. You're about to get into a whole heap of a mess." He looked to the Lieutenant, "Shalee.... I'm going to have to do it and he'll wish he'd have learned self control over on that pew over there."
Saint slid his hand down, reaching for his pistol only to realize he wasn't carrying it. He pretended he had it anyways, keeping his hand at his hip. "Don't try it!"
"Ensign Raphael Saint of PIE Inc,. What I'm about to tell you is classified by her Imperial Majesty Jamyl Sarum herself, and is pursuant to PIE Executive General Order 17 which states, "Any information given to a member of the Empire by the Imperial Household may not be in turn dispensed to any member of PIE in any form of tribunal, inquiry, hearing, or conversation. In other words, you tell anyone what you're about to hear... and you will die a painful death. Period. Do you understand what I've just said?""Shalee paled as she watched him reach for the gun she knew he carried.
"You would kill me? How could you...oh god how could do this. You've got it wrong, all wrong."
Raphael looked ot the holo, barely registering Shalee's voice.
Saint frowned, not comprehending. "You...you can't be with Amarr. Why all the secrecy here? Why not in a more secure place?"
"Do. You. Understand."
"Hit me."Michael reached foreward and touched a console outside the view of the holo-projectors at his end of the line. His holo-image reformed into the face and body of Michael Priboj of PIE inc. His face was dirty and his torso and arms were covered in fresh wounds. His metal right arm had been dented and hung nearly lifelessly at his side. He was dressed in Amarrian stealth commando combat attire, it's obviously been worn for weeks without washing or changing. On his hip hung a rather advanced amarrian laser pistol, the power cell long empty.
"Oh Michael.." she whispered, heartbroken at the real sight of him.
"I told Shalee and this....this organization decided to rough her up a bit. It might be prudent for you to keep your mouth shut as well Raphael." His holo-image flashed again. "I don't have much time. The sun's coming up again."
"Commander....?" He shook his head. "Commander, what was it we talked about when I requested your counsel?"
"You were about to betray a friend. Then you're being hot headed. And now, mere moments ago, you were accusing a friend of betraying you... and displayed such hot headedness again."
"No, not tonight. I need confirmation it's you. It's obvious you can change your form to anything. When I first met you, when I first met the Commander, what was it I spoke of?"
Michael closed his eyes to remember. "You asked me on our public channels if there was a place for a Miner in PIE Inc,. I encouraged you to apply."
His jaw dropped "Commander? I...I had heard you were dead."
Michael grinned "Yeah.... I heard the same thing." The holo-image flashed again taking longer for the image to return to normal. "I don't have much time Raph. Long story short.... my death is a cover up by a shadow organization within the Amarrian government, sanctioned by the Empress in order to have me covertly camp on a planet in the middle of the Kalevala Expanse and wait for a Jovian Scientist and as payment I'm getting better implants, prosthetics, and a large amount of isk."
"Well what the hell are you doing here?"
"I hacked an orbital minnie communications relay three sectors away in order to broadcast a secure comm line to this location and PIE's public channel. I wanted to keep in contact with those I care about enough to defy The Empress over." He smiled.
"If this mission is supposed to be so damn secret that I would be killed for speaking a word of it, you tell Shalee about it and put her in danger? How does that show you care?"
"I didn't realize it'd be dangerous to her when I did it. Obviously... I was mistaken."
"Well you obviously learned of it's danger at some point, and yet here you are contacting her again. And PIE public? Hopefully you disguised yourself there."
"Of course. I may be foolish, but I'm not stupid. So... now that you... now that you.... now now now that you know." The holo image faltered momentarily.
"Commander!?"
"Michael?"
"Yes... yes... Sorry. Unfortunately due to forces out of my control... I can't communicate on this system during the day. Solar interference."
"When do you expect you'll have your mission completed?" She asked.
"If all goes according to the plans we discussed a while ago, very soon indeed."I'll get on that tonight."
"Thanks. And as for you-for-you-for-you." The image rippled and he disappeared completely before reappearing again a few seconds later. "And as for you, Ensign Saint. You're going to keep your mouth shut, and you're going to stay with Shalee every moment of every day until I get back. That way, you're both protected. Play it off as though you're dating or something. But both of you now know, so you're both in danger."
Saint looked over at Shalee, frowning heavily. "I hope that's not an order, Commander."
"What?! No." She protested.
"Listen you two.... I'd happily camp either one of your quarters to insure your safety. I expect the two of you to figure out some way to keep each other safe as well."
"Commander...you better get the hell back her quick."
Michael laughed. "Shalee has a task of which you might be able to help with. Shalee will you brief him on what you're doing tonight and hand him a copy and have him do the same thing to his logs?"
She folded her arms across her chest, clearly annoyed with the whole idea. "Is it an order?"
"Dead men can't give orders. I'm just hoping that the two of you understand what I'm asking you to do and put aside any... whatever-the-hell-it-is you have between you."
Raphael Saint frowned.
She mirrored his expression.
"Listen up boys and girls... this is bigger than the three of us, and if we have any hope of getting my butt back to you in one piece, you'd best start figuring something out quick." He looked up from the two of them into the distance, far beyond the walls of the Cathedral, then returned his gaze to the two of them. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Fine. Whatever."
Saint grunted his acceptance."And Raphael.... if you so much as lay a finger on her that isn't got a medical device in the other hand, I'll personally tear them off of you one by one when I get back. So no fighting you two."
He sneered. "No problem there."
"G.....Good. Alright... Time to go."
"Be safe, Commander.""
Remember what I said, You've only got each other as backup. Trust no one, not even PIE members."
Shalee furrowed her brows, worry etched across her face. "Will we see you again soon?"
"I don't know. I'll contact when I can. But I promise that when I do, I'll be alive." He smiled warmly.
"Alright. Take care okay?"
The holo-image nodded and wordlessly tapped a few commands on a console out of sight. His gaze lifted to the pair of them, he smiled to Shalee then vanished.