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...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Entry Fifty Three: Haunted

She leaned her forehead against the cool glass, staring off into the darkness of space. She'd been sitting there for more than an hour, slumped in her usual spot on the floor after a bad dream had awoken her.

The InterGalatic Summit channel played softly in the background. She had turned it on to fill the silence, though after ten minutes it had only served to annoy her. The entire channel was nothing but slanderous feeds about Garst and PIE. A part of her thought maybe Garst brought some of it on himself, but the accusations against PIE were intolerable. She couldn't understand why the galaxy at large held PIE responsible for everything that happened within the Amarrian militia, as if they had some sort of special authority to lord over the rest.

PIE had no more favor with the Empress than the fickle Helljumpers.


Her thoughts shifted to Raphael.

It was going on the second week now with no word from him. He had promised to keep in touch if at all possible, and she knew that if he could possibly send word to her somehow he would...

But he hadn't so far.

What could it mean? Was he in danger? Was it worse...was he dead?

She blinked back the frustrated tears. She'd spent several agonizing nights tossing and turning, dreaming, losing herself in nightmares.

Her patrols were haphazard and distracting. She couldn't quite get her mind focused enough to be on the battlefield though she had tried, pushing herself beyond her limits. Stims could only take a person so far.

And now, here she was, going out of her mind.She stared at the reflection against the glass in front of her as she pulled her head away...but it wasn't her own.

A girl of ten or twelve stared back at her. Wide blue eyes, caramel blonde hair. Her delicate pale face was distressed, her mouth twisted into an urgent frown.

Shalee blinked several times as she tried to find her breath, a scream caught in the back of her throat.

What the fuck..?

And as suddenly as she saw her, she was gone. Shalee finally broke through her paralyzing fear and was able to stand, moving away from the glass though all she saw now was her own reflection.

She trailed a frustrated hand through her long auburn hair as she stared at the window, waiting for it to make sense.

"Oh god, I'm losing my mind..." she whispered to herself.Turning around, she looked around the dimly lit apartment. Nothing out of the ordinary. Certainly no child running about.

Her penetrating gaze shifted back to the window and saw nothing but the expanse of space, the planets and sun in the far distance. A sprinkling of stars. Her own faint reflection.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

But the face was familiar. Not her own, certainly but familiar...though how?

Her thoughts were a tumbled mess. She needed a drink, company, and conversation, though at this hour most everyone she knew was on patrol.

Instead, she moved over to the minibar to pour herself a shot while activating the recording drone. She did two more before finding her voice.

"I am out of my mind apparently. Seeing things that are not there. Dreaming of people I don't know. It's like theres something going just beyond my grasp and everytime I try to figure it out, to understand it, it fades."

She started to pace, "I don't even know what I am saying."

Hot tears spilled down her cheeks as she moved around the room, somewhere along the way lighting a cigarette. "Things are changing. Everything is different now. Raphael is gone and I don't know when I'll see him again. Garst can go to hell, I don't want to ever speak to him again."

She darted her tongue out and licked away a salty tear drop from the corner of her mouth, "Captain Vaarun up and quit the Praetoria without an explination. We have a new CEO, Admiral Lok'ri has stepped down and Admiral Archbishop has taken his place."

Her thoughts were unfocused and she lost the will to make a recording about her corporation.

"Deactivate."

Her tear stained gaze locked on the window once more, now convinced that she was hallucinating earlier. Too many stims with too little sleep. That had to be it.

So why couldn't she shake off this feeling of unease?

After another quick glance around, she decided to spend the night elsewhere, even if she had to check into a hotel of some sort.As she packed an overnight bag, she ran though a mental list of other pilot's that would possibly take her in for the night. Condor? Zenton? Atfal? Vince?

No not Vince, you can't run to a Veto pilot everytime you're in trouble, she mentally scolded herself.

She left the apartment thinking she'd figure out the details along the way. Surely there'd be somebody around to talk to...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Entry Fifty Two: Unforgotten

The malediction broke through a heavy patch of clouds before coming to a land near Zenton's punisher. Earlier, at the Basilica she had told him of her engagement to Raphael and he quickly left under the pretense of paperwork. Less than an hour later she discovered he had gone to Inis, a place that was special to them when they were together.

She saw him by the water and made her way to him....

"Some paperwork."

"The paperwork was a lie, I just wanted to get away."

"You're angry..."

"No, not angry Shalee, you did what was best for you I can't blame you for that." He hesitated, "You could have told me... said something, a mail even."

"I didn't know how to tell you. It was like...once you left, you just disappeared from my life for good."

He stared off over the lake, "Yea, glad Rapheal was there to move in and pick up the pieces..."

"You left me, what did you think I would do? Wait forever for you to decide I was important?"

"I... I don't know what I expected, I wasn't thinking about it... I.." He wiped away a tear form his face. "I'm sorry, I should be happy for you."

" ...but you're not?"

"No... I still have feelings for you, and out of selfish desire I'm not. I know I shouldn't, I should just accept this and move on. I came here hoping I might be able to put it all behind me, to say my goodbyes. I think it's only making it worse."

"I'm sorry."

"I am the one who is and should be sorry. My own darkness has brought me to this end, my demons may be quelled but I now must live with the consequences of my actions."

"Zenton...I don't know what to say. When we were together, I wasn't enough for you. I wasn't enough to keep you happy, to keep you from falling into the darkness. You can't imagine how that hurt me."

"I can... probably no less than hearing your engaged to someone else hurt me. I never wanted to hurt you Shalee... God knows that to be true."

"You didn't want to but you did. I just wasn't enough for you..." She folded her arms across her chest, "Did you ever find what you were looking for?"

He glanced to the starry sky, "You would only find me foolish if I answered the question."

"I would not."

"I had what I was looking for the whole time, I was just too blind to see it. The grass isn't always greener on the other side...."

She sighed to herself, feeling horrible without really knowing why. "I dont know what to say to that."

"My empire, my faith, I was even blessed with love for a time. I threw it away in hopes of finding what? A spot amongst murderers? I don't know what I was thinking Shalee. And here I am, a broken soul seeking redeemption."

"You're on the right path. You're serving the Empire again."

He was silent for a moment. "So why did you come, actully how did you even know that I was here...?"

"By chance really. Your friend, Nitrog. He was having some problems with his interface, I was showing him how to work it...anyhow. Stumbled across you on the starmap. Saw you were in Inis...I knew you werent doing paperwork. I came to see if you were okay."

"I'm glad you came, better than me being here alone."

"You should have told me you were coming."

"I didn't want to involve you in my troubles.."

"I'm still your friend, Zenton. I still care for you. Thats not going to change."

"So what do we do about this place? Forget it exist?"

She shook her head no, "I'm not going to forget. And theres no reason why we can't come back here to talk."

He moved closer to her, "Why didn't you look me in the eye when you told me you we're engaged?"

"I don't know...," She glanced away as he approached her.

"You're discomforted by my presence?" He frowned.

"No of course not." She turned her head, looking at him again. "I wouldn't be here if I were."

He laughed nervously, "Too right you are, and I will be okay, to let you know."

"I know you will Zenton. You always come out on top, right?"

He didn't answer right away, "No not always. I don't think I've came out on top yet."

"I don't believe that for a moment."

"How do you figure?"

"Well. You've fallen pretty far at times but you are still in the militia are you not? You've gained the respect of your corporation, chancellor..."

"Chancellor.... it's just a word. I am nothing more than any other pilot in the Bleaks."

"Apparently not. Invelious thinks highly of you."

"He does. I've proven myself and I'm trying to make the best out of everything in DIA. I have no where else to go."

"I don't really believe that. I'm sure there are other places you could go. But I like that you are with them."

"They are a good group... fiercely loyal to one another for the most part."

"Unlike PIE who is at each other's throats half the time."

"I don't remember Praetoria ever being at each others throats."

"Not to your face, that wouldn't be very Amarrian, now would it."

"No I guess it would not."

"But I'm glad DIA isn't like that."

"It has it's own problems."

"Like what?"

"Nothing that needs discussed, internal issues that are bound to be resolved."

"Yes, of course."
He doesn't trust me anymore...

He stood there in an awkward silence for a moment thinking about lost times, "So, whens the wedding?"

"It will be a while. Raphael is going away for a while, a personal mission. So I don't know really."

"I see."

"I mean, we only just got engaged."

"You know I find it unorthodox some fake relationship blossomed into something real, hell... you seemed to hate him last I seen you."

"I know it's hard to understand. It's hard for me to understand sometimes. I did hate him for a while. But we spent a lot of time together."

"That you did."

He walked over to the shore of the lake and picked up a small flat pebble and skipped it across the water. "So when you told me, "It's not what you think" when I first learned about the relationship, what was going on? Surely it's been long enough you can tell me now. Not like it would hurt anything."

"Zenton, so much was going on. Commander Priboj? He went on a mission for the Empress, and got himself into a world of trouble. He told me one night as a hologram. But that put me in danger. Suddenly I was being watched...and they wanted to make certain I would keep my mouth shut." She furrowed her brows, remembering. "Anyhow, Michael came back again as a holo. Saint walked in on us, so then he knew. Michael ordered us to pretend to be a couple so that we could be together to 'watch each other's backs' 24-7. Thats how it happened."

"... it was an order?"

"To 'date' him? Yes. Thats how we started, I hated him back then."

He picked up another stone and tossed it into the water, "Fuck praetoria and it fucks you back, fair enough," he said to himself as he watched the ripples dissapate.

"I never meant to hurt you. I wanted to protect you from it all..."

"Nothing is going to stop the hurt, the hurt of finding out your dating Rapheal, hurt of finding out today -my second day back- your engaged to the guy. Returning to the empire's borders have been nothing but pain for me... the fall of Arzad, having lost you for good to him..."

She couldn't help but to get angry because he was making her feel horrible. "Well I hurt too, you know. When we were together...I didn't even know how you really felt, you never touched me, always kept me at arms length. And YOU didn't ask me to marry you. You never tried to make anything of this relationship. Never asked me to live with you. To be with you. And then you left, I begged you not to go and you made all of these promises on how you wouldn't. But you did."

"You told me to go," he said grimly.

"Long before that." She trailed a frustrated hand through her long hair, "When you left PIE. When you left to be a pirate. When you said you'd come back to PIE."

"I didn't want to rush our relationship... we're immortal, we live forever, we would have had all of eternity... I wanted to build something special that would last forever...." He sat down on the ground and stared out at the lake, "I screwed up when I left PIE I know that..."

She sighed to herself.

"I didn't know that Zenton." So many memories flashed through her mind in that moment. She moved over to where he was sitting and sat down beside him.

"No, you didn't Shalee. I really did want to come back to PIE.... I just... besides you, Mitara, Vaarun, and Omni...I didn't feel wanted, that's why I didn't try to return. And there is no way in hell I'd get back in now after telling Laerise to get over herself." He laughed softly, "See why being impulsive isn't a good thing?"

"I'm not asking you to come back now." She shrugged, "Theres no point. You're good where you are, you belong with DIA."

"I know Shalee..."She watched a shooting star fall across the sky the purple sky. It felt strangely comfortable to be sitting there with him, like old times. In the past they used to stay out by the water for hours, talking about the war, their future, their jobs. "Invelious asked me to come to DIA."

"I wont, and never will say I would be in objection to it...."

"On those bad days that I think about leaving PIE, I admit my thoughts take me to DIA."

"You'd have a bright future in either corporation but... you'd never want to leave your husband to fly with your ex-lover in another corporation. That might look bad to him." He chuckled, "Can't say I would blame him for thinking that."

She blushed, "No I guess not."

He smiled genuinely at her as she blushed. "Thank you, by the way."

"For?"

"Coming all the way to Inis just to check on me..."

She leaned against him, "How could I not Zenny? Once I spent three days scouring ever pirate bar in New Eden just to find you to check on you."

His grin widen, "Only to find me at a loyalist establishment none the less if I remember correctly."

"Yup." She laughed softly at the memory.

"I only ever went to one pirate bar, that was The Sky Hook, and only talked with one person had a drink and left, I'm just not a very good pirate."

"Your security status says different..."

"I've done... some bad things in my time Shalee... I don't try and hide it."

"And now?"

"I just want to repent and save what ever I can of who I used to be..."

"Is that why you were at the Basilica?"

"I went to pray for those who died in the recent battles with the Matari. We incured some pretty grievous defeats yesterday... and I also had an ulterior motive."

"An ulterior motive?"

"To find you..."

"You could have just commed me."

He smirked, "Where's the fun in that? We wouldn't have ended up here, talking away the entire evening."

She smiled in return, "Very sneaky. Did you have the thing with your corp mate planned too?"

He grinned, "Perhaps."

A moment of easy silence passed between them as they sat there. Memories of their past played through her mind again and for a brief second, it was easy to imagine things were as they once were. He had been everything to her; mentor, friend, confidant. She opened up her mouth to tell him about her problems with Garst, "Zenton..?"

He gave her a curious look, "Yes?"

"I..." She hesitated. She had always been too dependent on him, maybe that was one of their problems. Having him fix everything for her.

"I should be going...I have to get back out to patrols...." She stood quickly, "Take care, okay?" And before he could answer her, she was dashing off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Entry Fifty One: "Taking what I want"

She had awoken sometime during the middle of the night from a nightmare to an empty apartment. Sliding out of the bed, she made her way into the dimly lit living room and glanced around for Raphael though she could tell he wasn't there.

She could feel the emptiness of the open area and knew that she was alone.

Still unnerved by the dream, she pulled a blanket from the back of the sofa and curled up in it as she moved over to the floor-to-ceiling window to settle down in front of it.

The stars were comforting. Space was home. The glow of a planet off in the distance captured her attention, the way it was backlit by a sun. It was beautiful, breathtaking.

She spent most of her time in space, even when off duty they lived aboard a space station and rarely did she go planetside.

Until last night...

The stress of seeing Garst played through her mind. Everything he said, the way he touched her. She forced the thoughts away with a groan of misery.

She was almost glad Raphael wasn't there at the moment, she didn't want to tell him. He was leaving in less than two days and she couldn't bear the thought of adding to his anxiety. She wanted him to be okay with leaving her so that he could concentrate on his mission and come back to her.

Laying her forehead against her knees, she made a cocoon of the blanket around her, wishing away the lingering nightmare. Again she thought of Garst and it brought her to the verge of tears but she would not cry. Not now, not when Raphael could come home any second and find her. She would keep it all bottled up for now, hidden.

She would lie to him.

And as soon as she made up her mind to do so, Condor's words echoed through her mind,
"If I was Raphael...I would want to know. Imagine if he was to find out from someone other than you. I live by a simple little phrase, 'bad news does not get better with age.' It might not feel good, but it would feel worse if he found out another way."

The memory of it all flashed through her mind...

***

She had met him at the Amarr Legio Basilica at his request, surpised to hear from him. She found him in the outer courtyard, sitting alone, deep in thought in the private little alcove she and Zenton used to sneak off to.

Once, Mitara had caught her and Zenton coming out of it and had tried to cause some trouble with the pair, telling her that she had expected to see her coming out with Garst instead of Zenton.

'Ironic,' she mused to herself as she approached him. Something about the way he was sitting there, alone, contemplative, made her feel sorry for him.

"So..." She stopped in front of him, looking down.

He lifted his gaze and slid it down the length of her, "You didn't expect to hear from me so soon." He dusted off the bench, swatting a few leaves away before motioning for her to sit.

Apprehension flashed across her face as she neared him, taking a seat beside him. "No. I did not."

"I don't blame you after what I said. Frankly I didn't expect to... need you so soon."

She stared at him as a thousand unasked question flittered through her mind. She settled on one. "Need? Do you need something?"

He turned to her and lifted his hand, brushing her hair from her face as he cupped her cheek, bringing his mouth to hers. "You."

She lifted her hand and pressed it to his chest, keeping him from kissing her. "Garst...no. You know I am engaged to Raphael." What is wrong with him?

For the moment she had a hard time believing he was serious. He had been her friend for so long, she had trusted him. Raphael had trusted him.

Garst made a show of looking over to the nearby bushes. "I don't see him here, perhaps he is hiding in the bushes behind us?" He grinned at her and she told herself he wasn't serious, he was just trying to break the ice. Trying to apologize.

Voices from nearby caught their attention. Aldrith Shutaq and Ekaterina DeSilverstris were walking through the garden, talking.

Garst leaned over and whispered to her, "Look. Let's go someplace private and have a drink?"

Private? She was too uneasy to be alone with him, though she was trying to rationalize it by telling herself that it was Garst. He wouldn't hurt her. "Where do you want to go?" Also, she didn't want people seeing her with Garst in such a private little spot. Though it was innocent on her part, people had a way of making things into something more.

"My Blue Heaven? I've prayed enough for one day, I need to unwind." He glanced over to the statue of the praying angel.

She relaxed. My Blue Heaven, their old haunt. It wasn't exactly private either. She realized she had been skittish for no reason. "Alright, I'll meet you there."

Twenty minutes later he was waiting for her at the entrance. He pulled the door open and she stepped inside, passing by a lowborn worker. The place wasn't exactly up to the standards of most wealthy capsuleers, but that is why they all liked it. You never had to worry about running across the brass."It's been a while since I've been here."

He took her coat then lead her over to their old booth in the back.

She slid in and turned to face him once he sat. "Are you alright? You seem different tonight."

"Makes sense. I feel different. Like I need a change."

"I see. Well. Buy me a drink then." He gave her a charming smile as he snapped his fingers, telling the shot girl who answered to bring a bottle of the good stuff and two glasses, ignoring her angry glance at his rudeness.

"So...how are things now?" She was reluctant to bring up the news for now.

"Stressful," he admitted before quickly changing his tone. "The last few weeks have been very hard on me. I've got wrinkles on my face and if I had hair, maybe I'd have a few grey ones by now." He chuckled, "I guess I'll have to order my next clone sans wrinkles." His tone was playful.

He smiled again as he sloshed some of the newly bought vodka into the glass, filling hers first then his own. "A drink, as promised."

She did the shot quickly, sat the empty glass on the table and waited for a refill. "I'm sorry things have been so bad for you lately."

He refilled her glass eagerly and did another shot to catch up. He was silent as he looked at her, his expression thoughtful.

She absently ran her fingertip around the top of the shotglass, thinking as well. Though they were sitting in silence, it was an easy silence. Comfortable. Like old times. She felt foolish for being worried earlier.

"A man I knew growing up once told me a man could be successful, and achieve. Or he could be unsuccessful and have friends. I always thought I could have both."

He shifted so that he was facing her, "I was wrong."

"You don't feel that you have both?"

He gave her an odd look but said nothing. Instead, he refilled both shot glasses and picked them both up, holding one to his mouth, the other to hers.

She furrowed her brows as she took the shot, feeling the affects of so much alcohol in such a little time. She blinked, starting to get a little dizzy. After he sat their shot glasses on the table, he closed the space between them, pinning her against the wall of the booth. His mouth covered hers as his hand dropped to her leg, grasping hold of her inner thigh.

She panicked and froze at the same time. Oh god. Fear slithered down her spine. Her eyes widened as she rolled her head to the side, breaking the kiss. Her hands lifted to his chest, trying to push him away. "Garst stop! What are you doing?"

His mouth grazed along her neck, "Taking what I want...what I need."

"No, stop." She managed to push him away, "Garst, I wont cheat on Raphael....and I can't believe you would do this to him."

"Oh get real, what did you expect when I told you to come get some drinks with me in the basillica? Here have a shot, you'll feel better."

"Get real? I expected a drink! This is a public place, I didn't think you would..."

"But you wanted me to. So just have a drink and see where the moment takes you."

"Do you really think so poorly of me to think that I would fuck around on Raphael, that I would go behind his back for sex? God Garst, what's gotten into you?"

He growled as he knocked back a shot, defeated, "'No' is a word I'm hearing too much of lately and frankly its getting old god damned fast."

"You can't just take what you want."

"Recent history says otherwise, and frankly, I'm beginning to like it. So drink up because im not going anywhere."

She was trapped. There was no way out of the booth unless he moved. She glanced around the bar and realized there would be no one to intervene if she called out. A bartender and a waitress, and they weren't likely to get involved with capsuleers.

Resigned, she stretched her hand out for the bottle, willing it steady, not wanting to betray just how afraid she was at the moment. She filled her glass and did a shot.

"That's more like it." He refilled his own glass and drank it quickly then pushed the bottle of vodka away. "I didn't come for this crap. I came for you. Let's go." He grabbed her by the arm and drug her out of the booth.

"No." She shook her head as she struggled to free herself from his grasp, prepared to put up a fight. "No, I'm not going anywhere else with you!"

He locked his gaze on her, anger flushing his face. "Then I'll find someone who will." He shoved her away with a look of disgust, then dropped a few isks to the bartender on his way out.

***

Shalee unravelled herself from the blanket and went to pour herself a drink. She perched on the kitchen counter with a bottle beside her, a cigarette in one hand, a glass in the other.

Activating the recording drone, she started to talk, thinking it'd help her feel better.

"I don't know what I'm going to do about Garst. A part of me feels like he's just...just lost. That the stress of Kamela and Arzad and the war has gotten to him. That he isn't himself. That's what I want to believe...but another part of me feels like I never really knew him at all."

"After I left the bar last night I knew I couldn't go home, not then. Not while being so upset. I wasn't sure where Raphael was and I couldn't risk him finding me so out of it. After flying around for a while, I ended up back at the Basilica."

"I don't know...I thought maybe prayer would help calm me down. Anyhow. Aldrith was there. We started talking.' She took a long draw of her cigarette and blew a mouthful of smoke out into the kitchen. "Apparently the captain has asked Aldrith to befriend me. Stupid really. I don't need the captain setting up playdates like I'm some kind of goddamned child."

She was frustrated, "One night while on patrol, Mitara and I were assisting the Navy, helping to secure a rather large military complex. Boring really since there were no hostiles in system. So I started talking hoping she would open up some. Everyone knows she is dating Aldrith but neither seem keen on talking about it. Anyhow, I mention to her that I felt rather lonely in PIE, that the ranks really didn't inspire friendship but she didn't take the bait. I was hoping she would open up some. But whatever. It didn't work, and now she is sending her pet lieutenant to be nice to me."

"God how insulting. Aldrith of all people." She exhaled another mouthful, sending a plume of smoke towards the ceiling. "He was very insincere about the whole thing and then had he gall to mention something I had confided to him when I was trying to help save his sorry goddamned life."

"I promptly told him to fuck off and walked away. Bastard." She was ranting to one in particular, "Who the hell does he think he is anyhow? Just because he is banging the captain, he thinks he can threaten me like that?"

"Anyhow, I stormed off into the courtyard and stumbled across Condor. Thank god." She calmed a little as she poured herself another drink. "He and I talked for hours, I think. I told him what happened with Garst and then we talked about other things." As she finished off one cigarette she lit up another, "He's a good man, and I think he will be a really good friend to me, especially while Raphael is away."

She sat there for a moment, staring off at nothing. "On the way out Aldrith tried to apologize. I accepted it, but he knew I was just as insincere at accepting it as he was giving it."

Another moment of silence passed as she sat there thinking, drinking, dreading the passing of time. "Only two days left before Raphael leaves." She heard the front door open to the apartment and slid off the counter, trying to hide the evidence of her misery, quickly tossing the empty bottle into the bin while drenching her cigarette under the faucet.

Seconds later she was making her way to him, greeting him with a hug and a kiss, hoping to take advantage of every moment she had with him still and secretly hoping she could somehow convince him to stay.

If only...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Entry Fifty: Losing Arzad

Solar System: Tararan
Sovereignty: Amarr Empire
Constellation: Jayai
Region: Devoid
Location: Space Station

"It took him less than twenty four hours to contact me again." Her voice was slightly muffled as she held a blood-soaked tissue to her nose. She'd just come out of the pod a few moments prior after a small skirmish inside of a military complex where she'd lost a coercer to a pirate.

"Granted he barely said two words, just 'Arzad is vunerable, grab your harbinger and meet up with the fleet' but I guess he didn't really have time for an apology. Though at this point I don't know who should be apologizing to who. We both said things, and well.." She shrugged.

"Anyhow, by the time I got undocked in Amarr, the fleet in Arzad engaged and as I got one jump out, the battle was over and Arzad was lost. I listened to the chatter over voice comm, waiting for the second wave to rally up. After fifteen minutes or so Garst called it off, there simply wasn't enough pilots nearby to make a stand."

"It was Halmah all over again."

"Within moments I rounded up a few pilots to start a plexing patrol. By that point I needed to focus on something immediate, something to shake off the feelings of defeat."

She chucked the bloodied tissue in the bin and grabbed another. From time to time she'd get nasty nosebleeds when pulled out of her pod by someone other than her trusted crew. At the moment the Tararan pod-medics ranked only slightly above the Minmatar and Star Fraction on her shit list.

"We did an extensive patrol, had a few skirmishes here and there, but over all we managed a full defensive sweep and defended a lot of complexes."

Her thoughts were racing. She was exhausted and buzzed at the same time, having to rely on stimms to keep her going the last hour of her patrol. No wonder she fucked up and lost her ship to that pissant pirate. She was worried over the war and couldn't quite focus because of Raphael and Garst. Raphael because he was leaving and Garst because of her fight with him. The previous night had unnerved her. In a short amount of time he had sent her emotions spiraling all over the place. And she hated to admit it to herself, but a part of her was afraid of him. Before, when he was in PIE his larger-than-life presence was tempered by her commanders, by rules and order and military command. Even when she confided her darkest secrets to him she knew he wouldn't ever really hurt her. But now she wasn't so sure. Now he was answerable to no one.

His words echoed in the back of her mind,
"Do you feel safer with or without me fighting for you? Do you sleep better at night knowing im at the gate holding the barbarians at bay?"

He thought he was saving her from the barbarians but who would be there to save her from him? Could he not see what he was becoming? His lust for the fight was consuming him, turning him into something dark and powerful, someone to fear. "You're not the man I once knew."

She tipped her head back while keeping the tissue pressed against her nose, starring at the recessed lights. A part of her wanted to just run away from it all, to leave PIE, the war, and everything that came with it. She longed for a break though she knew in her heart that she wouldn't walk away. Not now, not while the pressure for reclaiming Arzad was on.

Her thoughts drifted to Raphael. She had a little less than four days left with him and she was stuck here in some goddamned holding room while she waited for Scotty to ready her ship.

Four days and then he would be gone. But she wouldn't think about that now.

Liar.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Entry Forty Nine: Laurel wreathes and fallen heros

She had asked him to meet her at the Paradiso and waited for him in a corner booth near the back hoping they could have a bit of privacy. He found her moments later and bowed formally.

"Ms. Lianne"

"Mister Tyrell..." She nodded to the seat in front of her, "Wont you sit...please?"

"I cant say no to eyes that blue...," he said with a coy smile as he slid in beside her.

"So..."

He said nothing as he leaned back in the booth, his gaze intent upon her, expression relaxed. From the corner Vlad Cetes watched them.

She placed an order to the passing waiter then looked at him again, needing to know. "Is it true...?"

His smile faded. "What now?"

"What they are saying on the news...is it true Garst?"

"I dont watch the news."

"That you are wardecing Amarrian loyalist corporations for profit. That you have fallen to piracy..."

"Loyalist corps eh? Is that were there saying now?" He chuckled mirthlessly.

Vlad Cetes made his way over to the table. "Lianne. Tyrell."

She gave a glance to Vlad, her face paling, then she quickly looked away. "Well. Explain it to me Garst."

Garst distractedly nodded to Vlad, "Explain what?"

"Who you are wardecing, and why."

"My my darlin, did you join the Theology Council since last we spoke? You remind me of my old instructor. He always wanted the details, now now, now!" He grinned as he took a shot of whiskey.

"It's important to me Garst...I want to know the truth. You spoke so badly of Zenton after he left to pirate, I dont want you doing the same thing."

"So eager to judge. Just like every one else."

She shook her head, "No I'm not. Thats why I asked you here, to ask you the truth." She poured herself a shot and finished it in one gulp. "So. Tell me."

"Sometimes the truth is not all it is made out to be," said Vlad.

"Perception is reality. If they want to call me a pirate, then I guess im a 'pirate'. A week ago I was the 'Hero of Kamela'! Probably Loyalist of the year! Laurel wreathes and praise. Now a friend I haven't spoken to in weeks who calls me here to judge me? I dont need this honey." He knocked back another shot.

"I'm not judging you dammit."

"Bullshit. You already think I'm the monster those bastards make me out to be, or else you wouldn't have called me here. Damned if I was expecting this."

She glared at him. He always could push her buttons. "No. I don't.....what did you expect?"

"Tyrell, "those bastards" can be made to change the public's perception of you, with some encouragement." Vlad said.

Garst snorted at Vlad, then looked to Shalee again, "What did I expect?"

"Yes."

"Maybe a friendly drink. Im such an idiot. I thought for one second an old friend would want to catch up, and here I am jumped again from all sides."

"So stay. Have a drink. You're the one trying to walk away....like always."

"Maybe im tired of being hurt."

An awkward silent moment passed between them, and then she asked, "So if you came to catch up....let's catch up? What have you been up to Garst?"

"Pirating" or so they say."

She frowned. "Yeah. Okay."
Asshole.

"Isn't that what you wanted to hear? You did drag me here into this little trap, I can see the accusation in your eyes."

She wrinkled up her nose. "Is that what you really think of me? That I brought you here to accuse you? I thought to have a drink with you, to find out the truth. But whatever. You're not the man I once knew."

He sat there silently, visibly hurt.

"Is it all worth it? All of the glory, the isk." She slid out of the booth and stood, ready to leave, "You sold out, Garst."

"Sold out? You don't know a damn thing."

"You admitted to piracy!"

"Admitted? Sarcasm honey."

"Sarcasm? So you are not going after easy targets to fuel your war machine? Amarr corporations...?"

"Are they admitted loyalist corporations?" Vlad asked as he slid out of the booth, moving away to talk to someone else at the bar.

"Amarr corporations? Let me ask you this Shalee. Do you feel safer with or without me fighting for you? Do you sleep better at night knowing im at the gate holding the barbarians at bay, or off in some wormhole, chasing selfish riches?"

"You're not the only one out there defending this Empire."

"My record speaks for itself."

"And so does your arrogance."

He frowned, "There you go judging again."

"It doesn't even matter what I think anymore," she shrugged lightly.

" .... It matters to me."

"You have a funny way of showing it."

"You know how I felt. You didnt care."

She stared at him for a moment then shook her head. "Don't. I'm going to marry Raphael."

"Have a nice fucking life."

She sighed and turned to go, "I will."

He grabbed her wrist and pulled her roughly down into the booth, "Why? I have to know."

She locked her gaze with his, "What do you even care? You're out playing hero to Kamela and the rest of the god'damned New Eden. What does it matter to you now."

"It's who I am. Who I was born to be. I wont deny my nature any more than I will my obvious feelings to you. You knew damn well how I felt but didn't care. I keep grasping at straws and it just hurts, I dont know why I keep crawling back every time like clockwork."

She looked down, unable to meet his gaze. She stared at his hand wrapped around her wrist. "Im not going to compete with your lust for fame and power and everything else that you need to substain you."

"My lust for fame? Last time I checked the news has been talking about me, and not in the way I'd have liked, so yeah I'll trade this 'fame' anyday."

"That's a temporary thing and you know it. Next week they will be singing your praises again."

"Not if my enemies get their way. They want to destroy my reputation. Destroy everything I've worked for. PISSES ME OFF." He slammed his fist against the table.

She could feel the anger radiating off of him and instinctively leaned back, a little bit afraid. "But they can't."

"I'll kill them all first."

She nodded slowly, "I know you will." She kept her tone low, trying to soothe him.

He glanced away into the distance and forced a calming breath."Are you going to be alright?"

"When I've put this embarassing slander campaign behind me I'll let you know. It's reaching a turning point, one way or another.....I just hope they dont succeed in ruining me."

She wet her lips nervously, "Then don't give them ammunition to do so. Don't pirate...stop these wardecs. There has to be other ways of making money."

"God dammit stop listening to their lies! Theres no pirating! Rule number two in my corp charter: No pirating or ransoming. Going GCC for reds is fine but we dont shoot random neuts or probe down mission runners." He quoted it from memory.

"What you're doing *is* piracy."

"Is it now?"

"Isn't it?"

"I serve the Empire. Cracking a few eggs along the way doesn't bother me." He released his hold of her and stood. "Oh and by the way? Those innocents? Those wardecs of mine? They were working with Final STAND in Ohide last night. Trying to kill my pilots. I podded them and sent them screaming back to whatever hole they dragged themselves out of. Innocents my ass."

"I see." She blushed, feeling embarassed for not believing him earlier. "I'm sorry."

"Without people like me making the hard choices and defending the Empire you would be." He hesitated, "I don't want you calling me for a while. Maybe when this is over, maybe, I'll contact you." He turned and left her without another word.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Entry Forty Eight: Drinking Games

She entered into the Choonka apartment wearing a flight uniform with her damp hair hanging in a loose ponytail.

Yawning, she kicked her boots off by the door, discarded her jacket across the back of a chair, and unzipped her flight suit and left it haphazardly by the minibar.

She poured a stiff drink as she activated the recording drone.

Standing in front of the windows, she could faintly make out her reflection against the glass. Dark smudges beneath her eyes contrasted against her pale face. She looked tired, though there was no mystery why. Long patrols combined with sleepless nights, either with Saint, or missing him if he happened to be elsewhere.

And it didn't help matters to know that she had just a handful of days with him before he left on a personal mission to God only knew where.

She emptied her glass in one big gulp before pouring another, and then started talking sounding edgey and wound up. Frustrated.

"Mmm this has been a fucked up day. As soon as I went on duty, the Captain seemed anxious to have us all out on the field as quickly as possible. The map was glowing so I didn't bother to reship into something more durable. I stayed in my 'ceptor and immediately hit the closest contested system. Decontested that, then moved on to the next. As soon as I entered the facility a pirate warped in on me. I wasn't fit for solo combat, so I warped out, hoping he would grow bored and find someone else to harass."

She sighed to herself, finished off her drink and poured another. "I went back in. The bastard came in on me again. We did this little dance about five or six times. Meanwhile, I'm asking for some back up from PIE. Lt. Omnicide was about four or five jumps out but en route. He ran into a little combat problem along the way so I had to wait for him to reship."

"I really wanted to decontest this system and move on, plus I had no desire to leave because of some goddamned pirate...so I asked Garst if he was busy. I assumed he would be, or pretend to be if he wasn't. We haven't left things on the best of terms, you know?"

She shrugged to her reflection, "But he came. Just like that, he came."

The words he had spoken to her before he left PIE echoed through her mind, "You just dont get it do you? I don't think its any secret I feel that you're more than a friend to me... you've made me feel like no one else before and I've been trying to fight it but I just can't any longer."

"He was three jumps out when Omnicide told me that he'd asked a militia pilot to assist me, someone he'd met earlier. Against my own judgement, I didn't wait for Garst and warped back into the plex. Both the militia pilot and the pirate was sitting by the beacon. I relaxed slightly, neither was engaged, so I started towards the beacon."

"That was a big mistake. The pirate locked and scrammed me, and before I knew it I was a ship down....while that bastard militia pilot sat there and did nothing."

"Nothing. Not a goddamned weapon fired, not one attempt to do anything at all."

"That just reinforces my opinion that the militia as a whole is useless."

"Anyhow. Garst asked me why I didn't wait, I tried to explain that I thought I wouldn't need his help. He came anyhow, baited the pirate and ended up shooting him down for me."

"I admit that I took satisfaction in that, and I also took satisfaction in seeing the wreck of the militia pilot that did not help me after I warped back into the plex." She smiled with a guilty little grin of indulgence.

"So yeah, that was my last 'ceptor," she bemoaned. "That one was courtesy of Lord Berk."

She took the bottle over to the sofa and stretched out.

"After that little mishap, I met up with the fleet in Ezzara. It was a mess. As soon as we started in on the majors, the Minmatar came in on us en masse. We had to evacuate and reship. We rallied in Lantorn and joined up with Invelious and his pilots. Zenton was there...but we didn't speak."

"Anyhow, on the way back out we were to pick up some Ordo, though I believe they got snipped before making it to us."

"Once in Ezzara, we made a stand in a major complex while waiting for Garst and his pilots to join in the fight. The second wave took place at moon six with No Mercy reinforcements."

"The odds were stacked against us but our side managed to win the battle." She took a celebratory sip from the bottle, "Amarr victor."

Picking up the remote, she activated the holoplayer and turned it to the IGS channel. The holo'ed face of the infamous Jade Constantine blinked into view, sprouting off her 'free space' nonsense and attacking Garst. As usual.

"Don't you ever get tired of hearing youself old gal?"

Shalee propped her bare feet onto the coffee table and decided to play a drinking game with herself. Everytime Jade said Garst's name negatively she'd do a shot.

By the time Raphael returned home he'd find her passed out on the sofa...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Entry Forty Seven: "I'm Sorry"


Solar System: Choonka
Sovereignty: Amarr Empire
Constellation: Ryra
Region: Devoid
Location: Imperial Armaments Factory Space Station

A camera drone followed the young lieutenant through the living room of her new apartment on the Choonka space station.

Their apartment, actually.

Raphael hadn't hesitated to purchase it for her even after the realtor had named a ridiculous price. In the last few days in between patrols they had started moving their things over, turning the empty space into a home.

Their home.

It was at least four time the size of her place inTuomuta, though she never really cared about that apartment. It was just a place to sleep in between patrols, a place to store some of her ships and other odds and ends. She'd moved there on the suggestion of Garst months ago after finding out that a lot of 24th pilots lived there. It was functionable, but she never felt like it was home.

Choonka would be different. It was more than an apartment, it would be where they would start their lives together as man and wife.

She paused in front of the floor-to-ceiling viewing window and stared out into the darkness of space as the memories of the proposal played through her mind.

He had sent her a set of coordinates that lead to a space station. There she was contracted another set of coordinates for the next system over, Romi. She had flown out to the bookmarked location to find an amazing display of his love. He had painstakingly flown in over one hundred containers and positioned them perfectly to spell out "Im sorry". In a container beneath the display, another one contained a ring and an invitation to meet him at St Alms.

She had found him by the altar and had thrown her arms around him. "I love you I love you I love you."
"I see you got my message..."
"It's been horrible without you. I don't care anymore about Nephanie, she was your past, I am yours now."
"I'm hoping it wont only be now."
"I will love you forever. So...there was a ring?" She didn't want to just assume it was a proposal.
"May I see it?"
He had taken it from her hand and knelt in front of her."I offer us a chance to start anew. To see each other in a new light. To experience, for a first time, our life together as sacred partners, eternal lovers...as husband and wife."
"You mean it...you want me forever?"
He smiled up to her, "If you don't mind, I'd like a little bit longer."



She turned her head slightly as she noticed the camera drone in the reflection of the glass. She had meant to start recording much earlier but had gotten distracted with unpacking instead.

"So, here I am, in my first apartment with my fiance." She settled down on an unpacked crate and opened up a bottled water while turning on the holoplayer to watch a recording of the PIE promotions ceremony from the previous day.

"It's been strangely wonderful, to wake up beside him, to come home to him, to live day to day with him....it's more than I thought love could be."

"We've been mostly okay...there was one small bump in the road involving Michaela. She tried to sabotage us, it was horrible. And in that moment it was hard for me to not believe her when I knew that he had been with her before, that she was the reason he did not marry Nephanie."

She got a far away look in her eyes as she remembered the conversation with Michaela, Raphael's childhood friend who grew up to become much, much more than a friend. The woman had found Shalee when she had accompanied Saint to the mining colonly while he caught up on some business matters. Michaela insinuated that she'd been with Raphael recently and that Shalee meant nothing to him, that he would use her and then abandon her.

"But it doesn't matter now. Michaela is out of the picture." In great irony, the girl had attempted suicide once she had realized she could not come between Shalee and Raphael.

She took another sip of her water, "And we are happy. *I* am happy, very happy."

"Happy at home, happy at work." Her thoughts drifted to PIE inc. "Well, mostly. I'm only slightly annoyed by the fact that I'm still just an Interviewer and not a full Recruitment Officer despite being the most active recruiter since coming on board. I'm probably just being petty about the whole thing, but at the same time I can't help it. You want your superiors to take notice of your effort and when they fail to do so, you can't help but feel slighted. I plan on speaking to our CEO about it, I think."

"Hmm what else. There was a crusader op the other day lead by Commander Merdaneth to celebrate his 1000th crusader kill. It was a rush to fly under him, usually the scheduling differences have me on patrols with Captain Mitara or Lt SG Condor, so it was a nice change to fly with someone different."

"We also had a promotions ceremony yesterday. Aldrith was promoted to Lt JG, kind of suprised really, I never thought he'd last. I suppose everyone thought the same about me before I got my commission."

"The brass gave out a few awards, mostly the Captains were awarded for their work on the Corp Store, and then most everyone else was awarded the St Junip medal. That was nice really, my first medal."

Shalee stood up as the grandfather clock started to chime, marking the hour. Soon Raphael would be home. She hurried off to the bedroom to change into something to wear out to dinner as Commodore Shaikar's recorded speech echoed from the living room.

"Praetorians, it was a year ago that the Matari were defeated at Kourmonen and the remains of St Aman interred on Dakba. That year has seen the Crusade push on against the tribals, not only reclaiming systems but most importantly ensuring those systems stayed reclaimed. It has not been easy - the enemies of the Empire try our defences daily and many have fallen along the way. Halmah succumbed briefly and systems from Lantorn to Sahtogas have seen constant engagement. These are tests we will pass, no matter the cost. We must make His gift deserving. With God behind us we will emerge triumphant over the Matari, as we were with the swift relief of Halmah. St Junip spoke of tests at a dawn of greatness and and I believe we stand today at such a dawn, united behind the Empress. So on behalf of the Admiralty, it is my privilege to recognise the hard work and effort of the Praetorians over the last year with the creation of a new honour, the second campaign medal of this Crusade, the 24th Imperial Crusade - St Junip. This will be presented to all Praetorians who have fought in and supported the Crusade over the past year. Full details will be available on our communications nexus shortly. We cannot fail, for we have the Empress to lead us and destiny to follow. Amarr Victor."