((OOC note. The nightmare Shalee has at the end of this post was written by Saint. I thought it was interesting and decided to work it in here.))
Morning sunlight slanted through the filigree of leaves, piercing the semi darkness of the forest that she had spent the last hour walking through.
She wasn't even certain where she was, she'd been so tired coming off of patrols that she just randomly chose the closest habitable planet and set course.
Leaving her small crew with her coercer, she took off walking, thinking the fresh air would revive her, clear her head. She was tired of relying on stims.
Plus, she was in no hurry to get home.
Eventually she'd ended up by a creek and settled down on an enormous rock that was half submered in the water.
Pulling her backpack from her shoulders, she dropped it to the rock then sat to pull off her boots and socks, rolled up her pants and dipped her feet into the tepid flow of water.
She activated a recording drone while pulling out a datapad that would let her access her recruitment files and personal mail.
She glanced through her personal messages first:
Congratulations! Even if you have not entered, due to mix up some numbers and names of InterGalatic Lotto, you are a lucky winner anyhow! You win 10 billion isk! All you have to do is send your bank info to...
Lianne. Where have you gone? Is your mental state unstable? Your actions are illogical, you continue to cling to emotion when it has failed you. Contact me, there are new developments that need to be discussed. - Vlad Cetes
She sighed as she pondered a response. Should she even respond at all? Ignoring him would only work for so long before he started showing up in her systems again. He would find her. She mused on it, going back and forth, thinking maybe she wouldn't meet him. He had pissed her off by attacking Zenton in Huola the other day, though no doubt that was done just to get her attention.
RE: Vlad. Fine. I'll meet you in the Gardens later. Shalee.
I will be able to return to Amarr within the next day if all goes according to plan. I informed Invelious of my plan to return to service within Praetoria. He wasn't very understanding of it. He spoke to another director that I could have just possibly been a spy in the corporation, I hope that he's since changed his mind on the issue. I do wish them the best... But it's time for me to fly for the crusade once again. - Zenton Karvash
RE: Zenton, don't be angry with Invelious, no doubt he is just upset over losing one of his Directors. You are an important part of DIA, it's a heavy loss for him. Though honestly this suprises me. I never really thought you'd do it, that you would actually try to come back to PIE. I wont complain. The militia needs you. And of course, I love flying with you. See you in the skies. - Shalee
Shalee, So far my mission has yielded little. It wasn't too long ago that I was told my mother had stopped reporting to the company. She had told me that she would continue to work after my Father's death, and has been doing so for the last seven years. Though I know little about what she actually does, my Father had told me she acts as a representative and sets up business deals. Although the starting of the Caldari branch of SHUTZ had been her work, results from her are few and far between lately, and I wonder if she has been having trouble for some time. I hope this message finds you well and that you aren't having too many troubles. I look forward to returning to you and hope to find you just as I left you. I love you Shalee and I hope you can wait for me. Forever Yours, Raphael
She read the message several times, feeling a mixture of anxiety and relief. At least he had finally gotten word to her but she knew it'd be impossible to send a response. At least he was alive. She consoled herself with that knowledge, that he was still out there alive, and apparently unhurt. Though he wasn't returning. Yet anyhow. God she missed him.
Shalee, the way PIE (damned derelicts) has responded to the so called "Quebec Power" incident thoroughly disappoints me. I need to speak with you, I need to know if you are with or against me.... I can't stand the thought of you against me but as long as you wear that PIE insignia on your collar...
Just message me... - Garst Tyrell
She stared at the blinking screen, reading the message twice. She was still so incredibly angry with him, how could he not know that? Had he forgotten how he treated her in My Blue Heaven? He was acting as if it never happened. Raphael had asked her not to see him again, made her promise she wouldn't have any contact with him. And now the new CEO, Archbishop, had issued orders that greatly restricted her expore to No Mercy & Garst. She debated a response then decided against it. It was better if he would forget about her. Let him think she had made her choice, let him think she was against him.
Lt Shalee Lianne, Given my increased administrative workload, I am unable to conduct installation patrols as often, and for as long as I would like. Therefore, I am charging you to take the initiative when I am otherwise unavailable or occupied to form up and lead patrols in the warzone. You do so with my authority. You have spent enough time in my fleets to know how I like things done, so I trust you to lead them properly. I will be appointing a stand in combat FC in addition to your role. Once I have decided on the pilot, we will all have a short meeting to flush out expectations and to answer any questions. Go with God. -Captain Mitara Newelle
RE: As you wish, Captain. May I recommend Lt. Shutaq. We already spend a considerable amount of time on patrols together and he is quite knowledgable. I trust his judgement. As it stands, when we do our patrols we already unofficially assume these roles. Also another to consider is Karvash. He will be putting in a re-application to PIE very soon. - LT Lianne
Lieutenant Lianne. We have orders to collaborate on a recruitment campaign presentation to be presented to both new recruits and the press. I'll mail you at a later date with the details. - Lieutenant Hiigaren
RE: Sounds good. I have some ideas. We can break it up, you cover the history of PIE, perhaps get some quotes from some previous Admirals and talk about how PIE originated and I'll speak on where PIE is today, what our goals are, etc. What do you think?
She turned off the screen and leaned back against the rock letting the sun warm her face and arms. A thousand things ran through her mind at once. Orders and obligations. Friendships and hardships. Loyalty and love and loss.
So many choices to make. Was she doing the right thing? She lay there for an hour letting the thoughts trickle through her mind like the water across her feet. Eventually the sounds of nature and the warmth of the sun lulled her into a relaxed state. Before she knew it, she was fast asleep with the recording drone still flying about, abandoned like the countless scanner probes she'd lost throughout the warzone.
Moments later she was lost in nightmares...
Stepping off of the shuttle, Raphael hefted his bag further onto his shoulder as he exhaled, happy to be back. He had promised her he would return, and now he had. She was waiting a mere fifteen minutes away, and soon he’d have her back in his arms. Feeling happy despite the disappointment his recent outing had been, he found himself humming slightly as he began the walk to her apartment.
The entire four weeks he was gone she had been on his mind, sometimes just below the surface as he focused on something else, but never was there no thought spared for her. Finally, he was returning to her, even if for only a short time. He was planning on making the most of it. Anytime either of them weren’t on patrol, he was hoping to spend together.
Entering into a large atrium that bisected a number of the floors in the station, Raphael looked up at the large, backlit dome. It illuminated the entire room, and was set to mimic the daylight cycle of the polar capital of the Ducia Family Refinery Corporation. It altered between twilight and midday; shining at the moment with the glow of a late afternoon sun.
Usually the place was full of militia pilots grabbing something to eat or some shut eye, but Raphael found it almost devoid of life. The only other person in the place was a lone pilot on the other side of the atrium; directly between Raphael and his destination. As he got closer, he recognized the lone figure.
“Garst! What’re you doing here?” Raphael asked in a friendly tone. He was glad to see familiar faces after being gone so long.
“Saint,” came his reply, his voice cool, calm.
“I thought you based out of Ohide, or had already moved out of the Empire entirely.” Raphael came to a stop to talk to his old friend. It had been a long while since the last time the two met face to face.
“I came to see you,” Garst smiled a bit, “and Shalee.”
Raphael cocked his head to the side. “Oh? How did you know I would be here? I haven’t told anyone that I was coming.”
“I’ve had a few friends tracking you on your journey.” Garst reached into his coat as if to retrieve something. “Did you think I wouldn’t keep tabs on my old friend?”
Raphael frowned a bit. “I hope you haven’t already talked to Shalee. It was supposed to be a surprise.”
“Oh, she’ll be surprised alright.”
Raphael heard a loud bang and felt something hit him hard in the chest. He stood there for a second dumbfounded before slowly looking downwards. There was a small hole in his uniform where something had pierced it, and slowly reality dawned on him. He attempted to speak but all that came out was a bloody cough. He took a slight step backwards before collapsing.
Garst calmly took a few steps forward until he was standing over Raphael. “I don’t take kindly to betrayal, Saint.”
A look of confusion spread across Raphael’s face as he tried to comprehend everything that was happening. He tried to speak, to move, but his whole body had frozen from the pain.
“I loved her, Saint. You knew that. You used to defend me on it.” Garst was speaking calmly, wiping the gun down before tossing it into a bush nearby.
Raphael stared up at him, trying to speak, but was gagged by the blood that was quickly filling his mouth.
“But you stole her from me, and tried to marry her. You’re no friend.” Garst was reaching into his coat again.
Raphael couldn’t breathe. The bullet had torn through his carina, and now breathing was impossible. Blood was filling both his lungs, and as he tried to speak, nothing but bubbles came up.
“Oh, have you something to say?” Garst feigned concern.
Raphael couldn’t speak, but he focused until his thoughts were clear. I’m not sorry for loving her.
“Slaver hound got your tongue?” Garst laughed. His hate had manifest, and he was enjoying himself. “I’ve got a surprise for you as well.” He tossed something onto Raphael’s chest.
Raphael willed himself to move, craning his neck up to see what had landed painfully on his chest. It was a datapad, its display lit up with a message.
KOR-AZOR FAMILY CLONING BUREAU
OWNER: SAINT, RAPHAEL
CONTRACT STATUS: CANCELED
Garst laughed as he saw Raphael’s eyes widen at the message. “Friends in high places and all that.”
Raphael looked up from the data pad to Garst’s mirthful face. I’m sorry Shalee.
“Enjoy yourself, Saint. As for me, I’ve got to go console an old friend. You know how vulnerable women are after a loss.” He laughed again as he turned away and began walking towards Shalee’s apartment.
Raphael watched him for as long as he could, still craning his neck, straining against the pain. His vision was growing dark, his body growing cold, and thoughts starting to blur. Laying his head back down, Raphael closed his eyes for the last time.