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...