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."
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.
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.
"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."
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."