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, October 29, 2009

Entry Forty Six: A temporary death..

She rolled her head to the side, groaning. Her mind felt foggy, thoughts distorted, abstract. Her eyes parted slightly and at first her vision was blurred. Just a sliver of pale light was visible. She blinked several times, trying to focus, forcing her eyes open all the way.

A large window came into view with rain gushing against the other side, pelting against the glass.

Phantom pain ached along her wrists.

Her body felt heavy as she tried to sit up in the bed, aching all over. She looked around the room...a hospital room?It looked sterile and cold, impersonal with bare metallic walls. She started to panic.

Sliding out of the bed, she moved over to the door and found it locked. Fear trickled down her spine. She tried the door again, this time beating her fist against it.

"Goddammit let me out of here!"

Silence.

She searched the room for another exit and found nothing but the window, and even that wasn't a real way out. As she slammed her fist against it, the hologram rippled.

Her fingers trailed through her hair out of frustration.

She spun around as the door opened. Vlad Cetes stepped into the room looking cautiously at her.

"What are you doing! Why do you have me locked in here? What's going on...I'm not your goddamned prisoner Vlad."

He closed the door behind him and leaned against it. "You tried to terminate your life."

"What?" She shook her head no, "I don't believe you."

"It happened. I found you a few hours after you had went to bed," his voice was ever so calm, void of any emotion, starkly contrasted to her hysterical one.

The memories of the previous night were vague and distorted as they flashed through her mind. She hadn't went to sleep as she told him she was going to do. Instead she started to drink. She had been far too distraught to simply sleep after what she'd been through with Raphael followed by watching Micah die, then nearly dying herself to Kathetel. But had she really tried to commit suicide?

I wish...I wish I could just erase it all.
Well, you can, you know.

The conversation she had with Micah before he died ran through her thoughts. He had suggested that she do it so she could forget, though it wouldn't have been a real suicide, not a real death. Clone jumping, but in the process losing all memory of what had happened since her last brainscan.

Her gaze met Cetes, "Why did you stop me?"

"Because you weren't in your right mind, you didn't really want to do that...did you?"

I don't even remember it...

"No.."

She absently put her hand to her head, feeling faint, the memories congealed into a mishmash of blurry images and emotion but nothing she could fully grasp. "What exactly happened? How am I here and not in some clone vat in Amarr? How did you stop me?"

"You attempted to terminate your life."

She grew angry, "You keep saying that but I don't remember it! I don't remember anything that happened last night after I left you!" She started to pace the medical room, trying to make sense of it. It was possible he was telling the truth. She had completely broken down, she remembered that much. The feelings of betrayal from Raphael, the anger, feeling used. Micah dying.

But it also didn't seem like something she would do. Not willingly.

"I don't feel right," she said as she moved over to the bed, sitting on the edge.

"A medical drone administered a sedative. You are now recovering from the after affects."

"A sedative..it wouldn't make me feel like this. I don't feel right..." She glanced down at her wrists again. No bandages.

"How...?" She looked at him questionally, "Did I...did I die? Am I cloned?" If she tried to do something and failed there would be some kind of visible mark left behind, wouldn't there be? Had she succeeded? Was she cloned? A million questions ran through her mind at once. "How am I here?"

"Your human body is dead...you have been placed in an artifical one. For the moment."She felt sick to her stomach as she shook her head to protest, "What? I don't understand.""Your human brain remains as your DNA created it. Same with other organic components needed for vital life support...with some upgrades. Your skeleton system has been replaced with a carbon nanotube structure, your muscles an advanced microfiber system."

She paled, "Oh god...what have I done?"

"You have advanced. Thrown away your humanity and embraced evolution."

She rubbed her hand across her forehead, "You should have let me die."

"Negative. Permitting you to die would be counterproductive."

She glared at him, "Why do you even care?"
Why do I even trust you?

"You know too much."

"I don't understand." She leaned her head against the pillow, staring at the artificial rain. All she felt like doing was sleeping. "I don't know anything."

"A ...mistake was made."

"Mistake?"

"A data packet was added to the download."

"What does that mean to me?"

"It means that your mind has data it was not supposed to have. Data that is secret for a reason."

"What data? What are you talking about?"

"I will not reveal what the data is. I do not wish to compromise it anymore."

"Is that why you had me locked in here?"

"Affirmative. I will need to determine if the data is removable...or if not...plot another course of action."

"Fuck you, you're not keeping me here. I have duties to return to, I have a life to get back to."

I have to talk to Raphael..

"An absence would result in questions being asked, that is why I am letting you go when you are capable of flying out of here...however, I will be watching to ensure nothing unusual happens."

She looked at him incredulously, "I wonder how you would measure unusual after everything that's happened in the last twenty-four hours."


****

A few hours later...

A flash of light was the last thing she remembered before darkness enveloped her.

Gasping for breath, she pulled the breathing tube from her mouth as she came up out of the cloning vat.

Glancing around, she calmed as she looked around the familiar facility, Amarr Medical Center.

Attendants were helping her up as she tried to remember the last few moments before 'dying'. She was flying out of Stain in a ship of Vlad's. It was too easy not to hit the microwarp drive after she jumped through a bubbled gate. So very easy to watch as her ship got locked and do nothing. She braced herself as her display started to flash red.

She remembered thinking about what had happened, how Vlad had saved her from the cathedral only to trap her into a hellish existence that wasn't even human. She refused to live that way, to lose her emotions, her humanity. She would not become like him, existing only for one's self. It was selfish. She needed more, a purpose for living. She needed love...

After a quick shower, she dressed in a typical flight suit with her PIE Lieutenant bars pinned to her collar.

She slid on her boots then picked up her datapad, thumbing through the in-coming messages.

RefID:17590348483332 Your friendly insurance company has transferred..

Delete.

Clone Activated. So you died? Well you have a Clone Grade at...

Delete.

My Dearest Shalee,
I know the horrible truth of our origins hurts you. It weighs heavy on my heart as well. I know using you was wrong. I will make no excuses. I only hope that you that you can find it within you to forgive me and return to my arms. These past nights without you have been horrid, the memory of the night I told you haunting my memories, a wraith of guilt that has taken hold of my heart and even now consumes me.
I hope you will remember the love I have shown you, and know that my love for you is both true and deep. All those times I could have turned you away, left you alone, but stayed at your side. It is these times that prove my devotion to you; that I love you dearly.
I have contracted a set of coordinates to you. I hope you will accept them and immediately go there.
-Raphael

Save.

She never noticed the half written, unsent message to Saint saved in the drafts tab.

Dear Raphael.
I can't do this anymore. I can't live with the truth of us, knowing that everything was a lie. Even if it is true now, it was a lie then. So many memories of us together. I don't want to know that they weren't real for you. I can't live with that, knowing that you were with her in your mind. Oh god how I hate her and hate you for using me to get to her. It consumes me, Raphael. Every memory of us has now been weighed against this knowledge and I'm left wondering where she ended and I began. It disgusts me to know that, to know that you took my innocence and wasn't even seeing me lying beneath you, but her. I told you from the begining that if I slept with you I would love you. You knew. You had to have known, but you didn't care.
I'm sorry Raphael. You've hurt me and it should be so easy for me to walk away, but I cannot. I love you too much to just let you go.When I wake up...I wont remember any of this.
Never tell me again. I can't go through eternity with you second-guessing you, having some secret part of me resenting you, hating you for hurting me.
I'm sorry, but it's better this way.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Entry Forty Five: I watched him die..

((OOC note. I played around with the POV of this post, and took the RP Vlad and I did and wrote this out from his perspective))

Vlad Cetes leaned against a burnt out lamp post across the street from St Alms, hidden in the shadows.

He stared at the cathedral doors, observing the scene with well practiced patience. She had been inside for at least half an hour, talking to the imposter priest and he could hear everything being said thanks to a few special implants that were hacked into the church's security surveilance.

He listened to their conversation though he really didn't consider it eavesdropping per se. It was more or less gathering intel.

It didn't mean he was a goddamned stalker, after all, even if he was standing outside of a random cathedral in the middle of the goddamned night just to make sure she was okay.

Not that he cared or anything, he told himself.

He was beyond caring about anyone or anything. No human emotion. Most of his humanity had been replaced over time with artificial implants. Emotions were weakness, actions based on anything other than logic were a hindrance.

So why are you here? That little voice in the back of his mind nagged him. He told it to shut the fuck up.

Movement across the street caught his attention. He watched as another person entered into the cathedral.

He could hear them. Shalee, Micah, and Kathetel. He grimaced as he heard Kathetel's threat.

Fuck.

He ran across the street and pushed open the stained glass doors, easing into the foyer in time to see Micah die.

As Kathetel forced Shalee to start walking, Vlad yelled out, "Cease and desist immediately."

He spun around bringing Shalee with him, looking at Vlad. "Vlad!" She screamed out his name, only to be choked by the agent.

He advanced toward the agent, "Release her at once, or die." As he spoke he was communicating via the Nexus, a highly sophisticated implant that gave him thought to thought communication with his subordinates. He gave the orders for some of his guards to move in on the cathedral.

Kathetel laughed, his voice ringing out across the chapel. "Make one more step and she dies."

The security team entered in with their rifles drawn."I believe we have a standoff, human." Vlad said.

"Human? You must be joking." His fingers tightened around Shalee's throat to the point that she started gasping. "Send your men away and she lives."

"I do not believe a human can asphyxiate a standard human being faster than aimed projectiles can eliminate a human's ability to live. You have five seconds to release her, or they will shoot."

The agent scooped her up into his arms and started to back away, using her as a shield. "Shoot me and she dies too."

"And what is she to me?" He bluffed. "It appears though you were interrogating her. If she dies, you lose. You think you can attack me and walk away?"

"I don't need to. I just need to get the girl out of here," he said as he continues walking backwards making his way to the backdoor.

Vlad sent a mental command to a guard -Flashbang! Now!-. The guard instantly tossed a cylindrical object towards the back door. As it exploded, it's magneisum charge blinded the room with light while emitting a 180 dB sound.

The agent had lightning fast reflexes but wasn't able to make it through the door in time with Shalee struggling in his arms. His vision changed, adapting with the burst of light as the pair of them were blown forward by the blast, and in the process he lost his hold on her.

Vlad Cetes sprinted forward and grabbed Shalee. She fell into his arms, smearing Micah's blood across his shirt. As she went limp, he scooped his arm beneath her knees and started to carry her towards the exit, crouching as security provided fire over the top of them.

Railgun projectiles pierced the billowing smoke as another grenade was set off. Tear gas filled the chapel.

Shalee buried her head against Vlad's shoulder, terrified, coughing, gasping for breath.

"Fight through the gas Shalee, it wont kill you."

Kathetel made it half way up the aisle before falling to his knees, choking on the smoke, bleeding.

The security officers continuously ripped into him with bullets, slaughtering his body long after he died.

Once outside, Vlad carried her across the street. "Are you alright?"

She was pale, trembling, still in shock. She stared at him with wide eyes then finally shook her head.

He couldn't leave her like this.

Without a second thought, he carried her off to his waiting shuttle. Once inside he sat her gently down onto one of the seats then headed off to give orders to the pilot to join up with the legion. Armed security kept watch out of the portholes.

He went back to her, easing himself down beside her.

She was still in shock, white as a ghost, staring off at nothing. Finally she broke the silence, "You were following me...why?"

"That will remain a secret."
Because I don't know..

She was too out of it to argue. "I can't go home. I don't even know where Saint is ...but I can't face him now." Tears dripped down her cheeks. "I just can't. And oh god...I saw him die. Micah." She glanced down at her blood splattered hands.

"We will go to Stain. It is far enough away, give you time to think."

The shuttle docked aboard the Legion, then a course was set and cloak was activated. They would not be followed.

"I've never been to Stain." She attempted small talk, though he did not respond.

"How are you so calm?"

"Calm under pressure is a nature of my enhancements. The elimination of emotion is one of the steps of evolution."

Her expression showed her confusion, "I don't know what you mean."

"My medulla oblongata has been surgically removed. I do not feel joy, pain, anger, sadness...no emotions. I function off of logic."

"No emotion? No love?"

"Negative."

"And you are okay with this? How long have you been this way?"

"It does not matter. My path is set."

"But why? What happened to make you like this?"

He ignored her question and checked the time.

"Why wont you tell me? What are you hiding?"

"I realized early on that humanity was flawed, that it had to evolve or die."

She shook her head, "So you chose to do this to yourself?"

"I have seen it's benefits against humanity. I chose correctly."

"Without emotion you're little more than a drone with flesh."

"Negative. Drones do not have true intelligence. I have the benefits of machines and humans, augmented with the AI of the Sleepers."

"And thats enough for you?"

"No. There is always more to be done."

"For your whole life, you will never know love or happiness or joy..?"

"The process isn't complete. I will eventually be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. That is the goal..though for the moment that is unreachable."

"To be like God..." she frowned.

"There is no God....yet. To be a god, that is the ultimate goal."

"There is a God."

"I will not debate the obvious. Believe what you want." He glanced to her, noting her disapproving frown. At least her color was starting to return. Sparking her anger made her forget about what she had witnessed. "We are almost to Stain."

As she turned her head, he caught a glimpse of her reflection against one of the viewport glasses. Her words replayed through his mind again,
"No emotion, no love?" "Negative."

That nagging voice whispered against the back of his mind
. "Liar."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Entry Forty Four: The sin of a Saint

The young lieutenant stepped into the foyer of St Alms after having spent an hour or so at the Paradiso talking to Tyr. She had meant to get back out to patrols but her heart wasn't in it. She was restless, edgy, unable to concentrate.

She wanted to speak to him, to yell at him. Something. Anything.

She needed to come to terms with what he had told her, and so far she had failed miserably at it.

She couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, could barely function, and she knew she had to somehow resolve this, to find some way of dealing with it so she could get her mind back on her duty. It was impossible for her to fly now.

She stood there, staring out at the moonlit stained glass windows, just taking it all in, letting the memories of them flow across her mind, trying to find some solace in them.

But instead of comfort, they brought her misery.

"Why did you want to be with me? You barely could tolerate me before, so why did you pursue me? Why?"
He stood there silent for the longest of moments, looking at her, then he turned to face the alter. "Why, Raphael? Tell me. You want answers from me, well I want them from you too."
He closed his eyes. "You...you reminded me of someone."
Her heart sank. "Oh..." Breathe. Just breathe. "Who?"
He let out a long sigh. "Nephanie. You look nothing like her, but your hair...it's a similar color. That night in here, when you were sitting on my lap, I tried not to focus on you, to preserve some modesty. I thought about Nephanie. She had died only a week or two prior, and during my reverie I noticed your hair. Suddenly the two of you were linked...I never got to touch her, feel her, love her. And since I had linked the two of you in that moment...."
She sucked in her breath feeling as if the floor was pulled out from under her.
She became dizzy, nausated. So she was just a fill in for someone else he had loved and lost? "Nephanie..." She grabbed the end of the pew and wrapped her hand around it, holding it so tightly her fingers were turning white.
"But I stopped thinking that way long ago. After the Commander's order, I started to see you, Shalee. You. The night I first told you I loved you. I was talking to you. I was talking to Shalee Lianne. Nephanie had passed from my thoughts weeks ago.
She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall "At what point did you see me? When I first kissed you, was it me you felt or her you wanted? That first dance, were you dancing with me or her? The first time we made love, was that me..? Or were you with her in your mind?" God, she was a fool.
He looked away.
"Say it. Tell me the truth."
He turned to face her, his gaze intent upon her face. "Her."

"I'm positive that wall can hold itself up.."

She jumped, startled out of her reverie. "Oh. You."

The imposter monk flashed her a smile "Yes, me. Are you not here to see me?"

"No."

"Ah. I thought maybe you needed to talk, after all that's happened..."

She widened her eyes. "What?"

He smirked, though his expression was kind. "You do know we have this place under surveillance."

She turned a bright shade of red "Oh god...you didn't...you saw...you know...?"

He had the decency to wipe the smirk off of his face and take on a more reverent somber pose "Mmm, well, yes. But don't worry. I erased most of it before sending it on the my superiors. Not like they need to know everything thats happened."

"I can't believe this is happening. It was humiliating enough hearing it the first time, I certainly don't want to talk to you about it."

"Might do you some good..."

"You're not even a real priest, are you?"

"Not so much, no. But I am a good listener."

She sighed, "Fine."

He lead her to the first pew and sat down, motioning for her to start talking."I don't know what to say really, you already know everything."

"Hmm, well you can start by telling me how you feel about what he said."

"How am I supposed to feel? It's all been a big fat lie. He was in love with someone else and pretended it was me. I was just a nothing to him. He used me."

"But he loves you now, surely that means something? Surely that matters."

"Maybe."

"You had your own secrets from him."

"Thats different. They had nothing to do with him. I may have misrepresented my past somewhat but I have never been dishonest about how I felt about him. I have never pretended he was someone else." She shook her head, still having a hard time comprehending it all.

"You have a valid point. But that doesn't change the fact that he loves you now."

"But it's based on a lie..."

He took her hands "Lieutenant Lianne...isn't your career based on a lie and yet it is a core part of who you are now."

She sighed, resigned to the truth."You're right. You're absolutely right...I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I held it against him..."

"Shalee...I just want you to know, that I love you more then I ever loved her. Even if she was on my mind then, she isn't now. As far as I am concerned, it was always you I was touching, loving, before I even knew how much you would come to mean to me. I know there's nothing I can do to ease your pain, to make you forgive me. I don't expect forgiveness. What I did then is unforgivable. But I love you, Shalee. I love you. I love you more than I could ever express. I love you more than there are stars in the sky, more than there is ISK in the world...."
"How can you say that and expect me to believe it? Everything we are is based on you wanting another woman. How can I even compete with that? Shes a fucking ghost who has consumed you to the point you would...." She was trembling she was so angry "...you would fuck me to be with her. Everything was for *her*." She couldn't stop shaking "And you let me give myself to you and you didn't even want me, you let me humiliate myself, you let me believe that I could trust you." Their whole relationship flashed through her mind, all of those firsts with him, all of those new experiences and none of it was even real. It was for another woman. But it made sense, perfect sense now. She could never understand before why he had suddenly wanted her but now everything was vividly clear.
"I wish I could make it all better, Shalee. I don't want to lose you."
She said nothing in response. What could she say to it? Tears dripped down her cheeks and she couldn't stop them. Helpless. Broken. She stared at the stained glass window.
"Shalee, you know, when I look back at those times, I see you, not Nephanie. I only see you anymore. You're the only one I see. There are days where I notice no one else, when I just drift through the day, waiting for when I run into you again. I'll never love anyone else, Shalee. No one will be able to live up to you."

"So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know. I love him and hate him at the same time. I hate him for doing this to me, to us."

"You hate him for being honest with you?"

She shrugged, "I wish I didn't know. I wish...I wish I could just erase it all."

He gave her a long look. "Well. You can, you know."

She blinked, startled. "What? No...no. I couldn't ...die."

"You'd only lose a certain amount of time."

"But still." She shook her head, "I couldn't. And it wouldn't change anything...would it? It would still be the truth of us, even if I didn't know it."

"How were you before you knew?"

"I loved him with my whole heart."

"So there is your answer."

"It seems like cheating."

He shrugged. "Like you said, I am no priest. But that is what I would do."

"I'll think about it."

"It's either that or forgive him." He quirked a brow as he looked at her "Or lose him."

She paled at the thought of losing him."I can't lose him...I can't. He is already leaving next month...I just can't.."

"Think about it. You know I will be here, I could help you with it..."

She wrinkled up her nose. "You'd help kill me? Oh, what are great friend you are."

He laughed, "I don't mean it like that, but, if you do decide to take that route, it'd be best to have someone there you trust."

She nodded, "You said you'd tell me about Michael..." She tried to change the subject.

"I did."

"Well...?" she prodded.

"He is still alive. Barely, but he is still alive. Remarkable really. His objective is not yet complete, theres a twenty-eight day cycle, the time should be nearing soon. Once he completes his task, all will be well. He will be allowed to return."

"But he told me theres no way off of the planet..."

"Mmm that is unfortunate."

"Well where is he!"

"I cannot tell you that."

"God damn you, don't tell me I can trust you and you hold something like that out on me. Tell me."

Still holding her hands, he smiled and gave a wink. "I cannot." He flipped her hand over as he pulled something from his pocket and started to write on her palm. A system name. A planet. Coordinates. "Do you understand why I cannot tell you?"

She glanced down and quickly closed her hand as she pulled it away "Yes...I think so."

"Good."

"Another thing. One of the agents offered me a deal once. I might take it...for a price."

He looked curious "Oh? And what is your price?"

"Implants. For Ensign Atfal Al'Nudjum, to correct his vision. If something can be arranged..." she shrugged. "Well. Maybe I'll do some sidework."

"I'll pass it along."

She stood "Thank you...by the way....I don't even know your name."

"Micah Tabris."

She nodded "Micah. I am glad to have met you."

"As I am you, child." He gave a mischievous grin as he took on his priestly voice once more. "I will walk you out."

He stood and started down the asile with her.

A figure stepped out of the shadows of the foyer.

"Going somewhere?"

"Kathetel...let her go. She means no one any harm."

"Tsk tsk tsk. You too, Micah? Falling for her charms? Have you forgotten your task?"

Shalee tried to brush past Kathetel but he stopped her, snaking his arm out to clothesline her "Ah ah ah, you're not going anywhere."

"You can't keep me here!"

"I can and will."

"Let her go." Micah stepped towards Kathetel. "She knows nothing."

"Are you so certain of that, brother." He grabbed Shalee by the hand and held it out "You call this nothing?" Squeezing her wrist, he yanked her closer while he pulled a weapon from his belt with the other, aiming it at Micah.

"Please...please, I'll erase it. I didn't even look at it! Just let me go!"

"Micah lunged forward to grab Shalee. She screamed as she was torn from Kathetel's grasp and pushed down the aisle behind him to safety.

The agents moved so quickly she could barely tell where one began and the other ended. It was a swirl of brown robes and streaks of light and the sounds of combat.

And then there was blood splattering her.

Micah's blood.

He fell at her feet, dead, his blood spreading out across the aisle.

She screamed as Kathetel yanked her by the hair and forced her towards the alter "Start walking..."

She was in shock, "Oh god... you killed him!"

"I did, didn't I. Mmm, unfortunate really, but it had to be done." He shoved her forward "Not that you need to be worrying about him, I should think you'd be more worried over whats about to happen to you.."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Entry Forty Three: Prelude to Disaster

Two days ago

Rain splashed against the concrete, a humid breeze wafted through the open door of the apartment.

Janilla could hear the steady tapping of heels against the rain-slicked entry corridor floor, followed by a door opening at the end of the hall.

A few moments later the faint sound of music filtered through the thick air.

She followed the soft humming and stopped at the open door, looking over to the young woman who sat at a vanity, brushing her long dark hair.

"Poppet, come inside!"

Janilla gave a shy smile as she stepped into the room and neared the vanity."

You like this, yes?" She motioned to the tube of red lipstick that she'd just smeared across her lips.

Janilla nodded, and the woman leaned over to dab a bit against her mouth. "There, now you are more lovely, little rose." She flashed her a smile as she spritzed her wrists with perfume, then sprayed a bit onto Janilla's.

A knock against the opened door caught their attention.

A young, blonde Amarrian soldier stepped into the room.

He ruffled Janilla's hair, then kissed the woman on the cheek. "My two favorite girls." He pulled a necklace from his pocket and drapped it around the woman's throat, leaning over to brush his lips against her neck.

He gave Janilla a small chocolate bar, then ushered her out of the room "Now off with you scramp before they find you here." She dashed out into the hall and paused to look over her shoulder before stepping into the apartment.

The soldier drew the woman into his arms and started to dance with her as he closed the door. Her laughter echoed down the hall.

***
Shalee sat up in bed and ran her hands across her groggy face as she tried to make sense of the dream. It had felt so real, she could still smell the perfume. Yawning, she wondered what made her dream of people she did not even recognize. As she sat there waking up, the dream started to fade away and her thoughts drifted to the previous night.

She yawned again as she pulled the covers back, trying to force her thoughts on the upcoming patrol she was about to do but instead all she could think of was Raphael. He had asked her to meet him on a random rooftop and then broke the news to her that he was leaving.

She couldn't get it out of her mind....

The evening sky was overcast, creating a blanket of gray, orange, red, and pink clouds. They stood on a rooftop of a highrise, admiring the spectacular view of the surrounding city and mountains in the distance.

"It's gorgeous." She turned to the side so that she was facing him. "So why are we meeting here?"

"I...I have some news....."

"Oh.... What is it?"

"It....it concerns our future....I..." he paused, trying to find the right words. "...there might not be one."

"Are you breaking up with me or something...?" Her voice was suprisingly calm despite the torrent of emotions she was feeling.

"No, I want the maximum amount of time I can have at your side. It's just...."

"Just what? You can't say we may not have a future together without explaining why. Tell me."

"I'm going to be leaving. In a month or so. I just got the news."

"Why?"

He looked out over the city as thunder rolled in the distance. "It concerns my mother."

"Raphael..you died the last time you left to look for her..."

"I know..."

"I don't want to lose you."

"I don't want to lose you either."

"So don't go, please, don't risk it. I know that sounds selfish but...oh god. You died, Raphael. What if you don't come back next time?"

He glanced down at the street below. "I have to go, Shalee. I have to...."

"Can't you send someone else? Why does it have to be you? I need you.... I need you here. Why wont you stay with me?"

"I wish I didn't have to go, I really do. But it has to be me. It has to be."

She stared at him, "Then why do you say we wont have a future...are you not coming back? What's happening? I don't understand!" She felt as if he had just sucker-punched her.The rain began to fall.

"I'll be gone for a while. This one won't be a quick mission. I love you, Shalee, I really do, but I...."

She was oblivious to the storm around them, even as the rain started to drench them. She inhaled a shakey breath, trying to keep herself together when all she really wanted to do was break down, or leave. She had a hard time dealing with abandonment. And breakups. Was he trying to breakup with her? "But what? Say it, Raphael. Just say it."

He sighed. "...but I don't want you to hate me. I don't want you to think that I'm leaving you. I don't want you to think that I want out. It's the last thing I want. In a perfect world, I'd die of old age, with your face being the last thing I see."

"Then take me with you."

He felt his heart sink as the rain began to pour. "I....I can't. There's no possibly way I could take you with me."

She ran her hands across her face as she looked away, seemingly wiping away the raindroplets. "Yeah. Okay." She tried to remain calm and was having a hard time of it. "So thats it huh? No details. Just that you're leaving me and we have no future together?"

"Dammit Shalee, I'm not leaving you! And I do want a future! I said there might not be one! I didn't say there wouldn't be one!"

"Couldn't you have started the conversation with that instead?"

"I did! I goddamn did! I never said anything was a sure thing! But you were in such a hurry to blame me! Can you trust no one? I'm sorry Zenton left you for piracy! I'm not doing that! I'm not running off to get my goddamn jollies!"

"Will you come back...? Will you promise me that you will come back to me? Promise it, say it."

"Not even death will keep me from you, Shalee."

She wiped her face again as rain soaked them both, her thoughts racing all over the place. She stared at him for the longest of moments, wanting to believe him.

He gripped her by the arms and looked down into her eyes as the torrent fell around them. "I swear it, Shalee. If you can wait for me, I'll come back."


***
She activated the camera drone as she moved into the kitchen, it followed behind her, recording her every movement, every word.

"So Raphael is leaving. I have a month with him at best...and I don't know when he is going to return." Her heart felt heavy, "If he is going to return."

"I can't help but to feel selfish, to want him to stay. He has made up his mind, he is going...and a part of me can't blame him but at the same time I'm heartbroken over it."

"The more I try not to think of it the more it consumes me."

"A month."

"And then what? My days will be marked by endless patrols and countless hours missing him, wondering if he is alive or dead. It's not fair...and theres nothing at all I can do about it but watch him leave."

She poured a cup of coffee as she spoke "Zenton left. I try not to make comparisons but I can't help it. I'm tired of hearing 'I love you' in the same breath as 'but I'm leaving you'. I know he says he will come back but what if he doesn't?"

Her thoughts drifted to all the others she'd known from PIE who had left. Koronakesh, Garst, Michael, and Swatyy.

Leaning against the counter, she slid back until she was sitting on it, dangling her feet over the side. "I hear Swatyy is flying with DIA now. I think it is fitting, really. Both Koronakesh and Zenton are with DIA. It is a good corporation and Invelious is a good leader, so I'm glad he ended up there. I just hate that the whole Lallara fiasco lead to it. If he hadn't of come to my defense on that report, then Hiigaren would have never said anything to him...and Swatyy wouldn't have had a reason to attack him."

She sighed to herself. "Some people outside of PIE are making it into more than it was, trying to make it out to be my fault, saying that I had 'driven him to distraction by my ranting and whining'.""I think that is absurd, I barely know Swatyy. Granted we had a few drinks here and there and went on a patrol or two together, but that is the extent of our relationship."

She slid off the counter after finishing her coffee, "And I haven't even seen him since he has left." She tidied up the kitchen then went off to change into her uniform for patrols, having no idea she was about to face the worst day she's ever had since joining PIE..

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Entry Forty Two: The Confessional

Candlelight flickered along aisle of the cathedral as she made her way toward the alter. The room was quiet, reverent. Empty.

She pulled the hood of her cloak back as she went to her knees, her expression troubled. Long strands of dark red hair tumbled about her shoulders and fell down her back.

She whispered a prayer absently, trying to get her thoughts centered, focused. She had too much weighing on her, too many things running through mind at once.

A shadow fell across her as a priest in long black robes neared her."My child, you seem troubled."

She lifted her gaze to him, hoping for a moment that it was Michael but knowing it wasn't.

"Isn't everyone?" She attempted humor, and failed.

"The confessional is open..."

She hesitated for a moment.

"Alright..I suppose." Standing, she followed him over to the confessional booth. After stepping inside, she closed the heavy curtain then pulled open the screen.

"I've never done this before.."

"Never?" He sounded suprised.

"No. It was considered a sign of weakness in my family."

"How unusual."

"My family was unusual. Sure, to the outside world we were like everyone else but..." Her voice trailed off as a little girl's memories flashed through her mind, things that she tried to forget but was never really able to.

"But..." He urged her on.

"Actually Father I really don't want to speak of it, it's not why am I here."

"Then why are you here?"

"Just to...to get away. I needed somewhere to sit and think."

"About what?"

"Life."

He remained silent, waiting for her to continue.

"I just feel like I'm drowning sometimes. Struggling to keep my head above the water but theres always someone there just below the surface, pulling me under. I guess that doesn't make any sense."

"Sure it does."

She sighed as she shifted on the bench, leaning her head against the back of the booth. Soft light bled through the filigree screen and covered her face with a shadowy design. "One of our ensigns, Aldrith, he found himself in some trouble. Big trouble. I mean, theres trouble and then theres the kind of trouble where you wake up from death with traitor branded into your skin kind-of-trouble, you know? He was in that kind. And come to find out those who were chasing him were friends of mine... the kind of friends I'm not supposed to have while in the Praetoria, but friends none the less."

"Vince is the one who told me. He thought I would hate him for...and I almost did. He put me in the position of choosing between him and a corpmate, a brother. And as he confessed the things he had done all I could think about was how I was betraying Aldrith by hearing it all. How could I sit there so calmly with a man who tortured my own brother?"

"But heres the thing, Father. Aldrith deserved it. Or, at least I thought so, in that moment. Vince with his Devil's tongue had me eating out of the palm of his hand. I was gullible and I bought it all. I even offered him comfort, this man, this dark angel. How could I have believed him?"

"Later, I had spoken with Aldrith at the Pax, the first time he walked out on me. The second...well. He explained. Everything. The part he had played in this ghastly tale of kidnapping, seduction, and deceit."

"How could I then not try to help him, Father? How could I not do everything in my power to save him? Those who were after him would stop at nothing if the slave-girl had not been returned to her pirating friends. And the one who had her, the one Aldrith had given her over to was a blooder."

The priest coughed and she imagined he was uncomfortable. "Sorry...I should go."

"No, please continue."

"Alright.... So I had imagined a way to get to the woman. I went to the Paradiso, spoke personally with the owner, Tyr, hoping to put the word out in that world that I was interested. It was easy enough. I lived that life for so long, it was easy enough to play the part. I ordered a set of private rooms to...to do the rituals in. I figured if anyone would know how to get me in touch with her, it would be Tyr. But I couldn't be suspicious about it, just couldn't bounce up in there and asked to be introduced."

"So anyhow, that was that. Spent a few nights at the Paradiso during all of that, to be seen, to be available if something should happen."

She hesitated, wondering if she was supposed to keep talking, having no idea how the confession was supposed to go. He said nothing so she continued.

"In the end, my help wasn't needed. The girl was rescued...but not by Aldrith or I. Though that should be enough reason for the others to back off of him."

"Sounds like it all ended well enough then?" he asked.

"Well...no. Here is my real confession, Father. I would have."

"Would have what?"

"Killed...maybe. I don't know. You see..." She sighed a long miserable sound. "Raphael...I was losing him. We had a fight and I...I just couldn't lose him. I lost Zenton because I wouldn't leave with him. I loved him and I lost him because I wouldn't follow him. I couldn't let this happen again. What started out as a lie with Raphael became true over time. I feel in love with him and then I had to choose. Love him for who he was, someone who wanted to murder Jhaelee, or let him go."

She nervously bit on her thumbnail. "I couldn't do it. I could't let him go, I couldn't do the right thing." Her hands trembled from nervousness. "He found me in the Lantorn hangar and I just broke down and told him I'd help him."

A look of utter misery washed across her delicate pale face "I told him I would murder her myself.

"The cold realization of what she was made her nausated.

"But did you...?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because...because I opened myself up to him...I showed him who I really was...or could be... and I think it scared him. I think it frightened him so desperately that he couldn't go through with it. It became less about Jhaelee and more about what I was becoming."

"So nothing ever actually happened. You never actually committed a sin. There is no crime in thinking, only doing."

His words did not soothe her, would not ease her guilty conscience.

"But you don't understand! I would have. I would have done anything, I would have betrayed who I am...who I want to be, my very own sister." She couldn't bear the thought of it any longer. "I have to go." She quickly stood up and closed the screen, then hastily stepped out of the confessional booth.

"Wait."

He met her outside of it, "Please, wait. Shalee, you haven't done anything wrong. You can't torture yourself over what you might have done. Everyday we make choices. You may have had some terrible thoughts but you have not brought harm to anyone. Can't you understand that? Forgive yourself."

He said her name. She never told him who she was. She shivered, feeling as if some unseen force was dragging the tip of a dagger down her spine. Taking an uneasy step back, she looked around the cathedral. Still empty. Damn. "I didn't tell you my name..."

He approached her "I know who you are."

"You're one of them." An accusation.

"Yes...but I'm not like the rest. I want to help you."

"Fuck you. The last goddamned time your kind tried to help me I had bruises for a week. So thanks but no thanks."

She dashed along the length of the aisle, moving to the opposite side of the pew.

He made no move to chase her.

She paused by the door, looking over her shoulder, her heart racing.

"I'm not going to hurt you, I'm not going to follow you...but you'll be back. You need me....you need me to help you find Michael. He's still alive..."