She activated the camera done.
"These past weeks can be measured by countless hours of patrols. I've logged more in-pod hours than I care to think about. Every shift is nothing but endless hours of sky time, bouncing from one system to another in an attempt to defend what we had, hold what we've captured, and to push the front lines even further. It has been a tireless effort of the entire militia."
"With the aide of our Caldari allies we've managed to light up the Metropolis star map. In those first few days we had systems falling every few hours. I don't think I slept any. It was a balancing act of trying to help capture those systems while keeping up with my duties as a Recruitment Officer. There was no time to fly back to Amarr, not while everything was in such an uproar. I'd comm the recruits and have them meet me in whatever system we were currently fighting in, meet them at the nearest spaceport and conduct the interview right there admist the fighting. Though usually by the time the recruits made it to the front the systems would be ours."
"It's been a strain on our pilots. We are overnumbered by far. As the Caldari move back into their own space because the Gallente were taking advantage of their absence, we have had to add even more flight hours because theres just so much to now to defend. On top of that, the Minmatar militia picked up several new corporations, including PIE's long time enemies, EM."
"I can't help but marvel over the 'morning' shift's abilities. I know that Dante, Condor, Merdaneth, Veshta, and Laerise have been fighting very hard to maintain control over our space."
"It almost reminds me of the time when Dark Rising joined the Minmatar militia, at how everything was at such a hectic pace for a few weeks, where every pilot mattered. Those long endless patrols very much remind me of what we face now. I remember flying wingman to our then CEO, Gaven Lok'ri in a punisher, losing them quicker than I could fit them practically. It was chaos then, and it is chaos now."
"And it doesn't help matters that Captain Newelle is stuck behind a desk more often than not these days. A lot of the 'night' patrols have Lt Shutaq and I calling the shots."
"Not that I mind. I like the extra responsibility. I like my duties in PIE."
"I stopped off at the Basilica last night to pray and happened to run into the Captain. I stopped to make small talk, catch her up an informal training op with some of the new recruits."
"So anyhow, I wanted to talk to her about a personal matter. I probably should have known better but I'm glad I did, otherwise I would have never found out about PIE stripping Raphael of his commission."
"I wanted to talk to her about Zenton. For the past few weeks he and I have been spending time together, not a lot but whenever we've had some down time. As friends, of course. But he has been there for me. So anyhow, I dropped by his office and there were boxes everywhere...he was packing up and leaving. I just looked at him. That's all it took. One look, and I knew. I knew he had fallen again."
"He had resigned his commission from DIA and it didn't take a titan engineer to figure out what his next steps were. His wingman Xaerik had left DIA earlier in the week for piracy. Obviously Zenton was to follow him. Despite everything, despite every promise he had made to me, he was leaving. He lied to me. Again. He swore he'd come back to PIE...but that didn't matter to me, not really. I was happy knowing he was in DIA, knowing that we were serving the Empire together, didn't really matter to me what banner we flew under individually as long as it was for the same side."
"I don't know if the stress of these last few weeks just pushed him over the edge or if he really and truely is a pirate at heart. I can't believe that he is, my own heart tells me no but..."
"He is out of DIA and no longer a faithful servant to the Empire? So what is to govern him now? What laws will he uphold as a pirate? What will guide his conscience? I have no doubts what-so-ever that he will fall so dark into this pit of vulgarity that he will say anything, do anything. And why not? What is to stop him? What is to stop him from trying to murder Raphael?"
"I still love you Shalee."
"His last words to me were of love! But what kind of love is that? His love is like Garst's, selfish and unpure, and I will not have the love of a pirate."
"I wanted to speak of this to Mitara, to tell her that I have reservations about what is to come, that I wholeheartedly believe that Zenton will come after Raphael. I wanted the Brass to be aware of this because they always seem to be overly involved in my relationships."
"She said, "I don't see how Raphael Saint concerns them anymore."
"I asked her why and that is when she told me they have decommissioned him. In that moment I just lost it. Fueled by exhaustion and a hot temper, I exploded. Right there in the middle of the Basilica, right in front of God and Empire and I didn't care. Words cannot describe the depths of anger that poured through me as I paced back and forth, shouting my words of rage to the Captain. I pulled off my Lieutenant bars and dropped them on the pew in front of her, telling her that I refuse to fly under a corporation that kicks out my own fiance."
"They never even warned me! Not once did anyone come to me and explain to me what was happening!"
"She tried to make me take them back, forced them into my hand and told me to sleep on it and then left. I screamed at her that I was done with it as I threw my Lt bars into the garden."
"Math'ra Hiede was walking in at that same time and tried to talk to me, no doubt overhearing the last bit of my rampage. Math'ra is militia, I've flown with him several times but rarely have I seen him out of pod. He tried to talk to me about it but I was in no mood. I did apologize to him for causing such a scene and then left."
"The other night I had stopped by My Blue Heaven right after patrols and ran into Gaven. We shared a bottle of wine and he told me and Ruah, who had come in later, to "relax some, we have a war to fight, cannot be on edge all the time."
"So here I am. Relaxing. Admiral's orders after all."
The camera drone panned around, showing a rustic cabin room. Once she left the Basilica, she didn't bother to return to the warzone. Or Amarr. She needed time away from it all, to figure out what she would do next.
"I almost believe that Hiigaren is behind this. It wouldn't be the first time he has tried to get rid of one of mine." She had an odd attachment to the recruits that she'd interviewed. Dominic had been one of hers and in the weeks since he'd joined PIE, she had flown with him a lot, he had become a standard in her and Aldrith's plex patrols. So when she found out that Lt Hiigaren had a talk with Dominic and informed him he wasn't active enough, she lost her temper. As usual. She couldn't help but notice the similarities. Had Hiigaren had a hand in Raphael's dismissal? Was Hiigaren secretly working against her? It made little sense to her but then again there was a lot about PIE that baffled her.
Sheer white curtains rippled as the breeze picked up outside of her window. As the curtains split, for the briefest of seconds an image of a small girl stared at Shalee. The same face that had been haunting her for months.
Shalee darted off of the bed and jerked back the curtains to find nothing. As always.
She trailed her hands across her face, frustrated and afraid, exhausted and feeling as if her whole life was shattering into a thousand pieces. Nothing made sense anymore and she couldn't bear the thought of being alone.
Without the distraction of war, it was too easy to let the nightmares bleed over into reality. She never saw anything while she was with someone, it happened when she was alone. That was why she'd spent the last weeks since Raphael's departure everywhere else but their apartment. She'd stayed at Zenton's, the back of the Paradiso, even falling asleep on a pew at the Basilica from time to time. A nomadic existence, staying wherever there was the energy of life. It protected her somehow, kept her seeped in reality, kept her from coming face to face with what was hidden in her dreams...