(posted on PIE forums Jan 7th)
The young lieutenant sat on the edge of her seat, elbows pressed against her knees, chin against her balled up fists, watching the recorded holographic replay of the previous nights skirmish with a dramiel. She and Lieutenant Shutaq had been on patrols when she was griefed by a local scum pirate inside a minor complex.
She sighed as she watched her slicer's stats on the bottom of the projection easing into the red. Shields took a hit, fast. Her armor started to bleed red despite running her armor rep.
It was nerve wracking to face him alone, he had chased her into the complex and while she waited for Aldrith she tried to hold him there without getting a one way ticket to the cloning vat.
It was easy to see her mistakes now. She had been exhausted, on the end of the patrol shift and she had lost most of her aggression from earlier. Coming down off the stims, her reflexes were slow. She made a few mistakes, thankfully none that got her or Aldrith killed.
But still, that would have been a nice kill. They almost had it. Though, to be fair she almost lost her slicer as well.
She chalked it up to experience and knew what better to do next time.
Anyhow, she'd gotten a dramiel kill earlier in her patrol, though not alone.
She loaded the footage of that kill. Stars faded into long streams of light as she came out of warp, slowly pulling themselves back into a scattering of pale points of light around the accel gate. As she landed she noticed the dramiel there, waiting. Battle ensued, then out of no where Garst landed and took up her fight. With his help, the dramiel went down.
She clicked off the feed and started to thumb through her recruitment paperwork, her thoughts on Garst.
It had been a strange night. She and Ensign Sabot started out the patrol shift together, he scanned the Bleaks, she got Devoid, while Ensign Stavenhorst rallied with a militia gang. Not many pilots had logged in for duty yet, though she didn't mind. Sometimes she liked flying solo.
Somewhere along the way she noticed Garst in her local system but it was easy enough to ignore him.
Afterwards, every few systems she'd run across his path again, crossing at star gates, landing at the same stations. It was as if he knew where she'd be, though really he'd been in PIE long enough to know her usual route and habits. So it wasn't that much of a coincidence of him finding her when she'd engaged a dramiel on her own.
He had helped her down him with ease, then flew away without a word.Again they crossed paths when she was attempting to take a major complex on her own and ran into some trouble.
Again, he helped her down the war target then warped off without a word.
Eventually he broke the silence somewhere in Oyonata over local comms when no one was in system.
Abandoning her recruitment work, she loaded up the video play of her conversation with Garst and pressed play.
Garst's familiar face flashed onto the screen...
"Do you need a dashing knight in shining armor to defend you?"
She was silent.
"Do you bite your thumb maam? I am no pirate."
"I was teasing." After all, he'd saved her ass a few times already and there was no need for hostility on her part.
"If you will excuse me miss-oh-so-young-and-pretty. I've got something to kill."
He left system and sought her out in a private comm-channel.
"Consider yourself lucky it wasn't you." He smirked, hoping that she saw the lie upon his face.
"You would kill me...?" She paled.
"You would try me?" He answered, frustrated.
She frowned. "You've changed."
"The world has gotten harder. So have I."
"I don't like this side of you."
"Maybe I'm tired of trying to get you to like me."
She fell silent again.
He looked off screen as he entered in some data into the No Mercy system. "Another kill for for my logs." He smiled, "It's been a good hunt tonight."
"Anyone I know?" she asked, hoping not.He smiled, "The way you get around I dont know who you know anymore. Maybe. Probably."
"Not .... tonight."
She frowned deeply as her heart raced. "What do you mean....what have you done?"
"Dead men tell no tales."
"Tell me what you've done."
"Why should I?"
"I dont even know what you think of me, so why would I have to justify myself? You're in PIE." He spit off screen, "So I'll assume the worst."
" ... So that's what you think."
"You were in PIE too. It's how we met. How can you think so little of it now?"
"The ONLY good thing that came out of that bastard organization was that it showed me how NOT to run a corporation... and you. You really were a lucky find. It's a shame you threw away what I would have given you. Everything. I would have given you everything."
She shook her head. "I don't believe you. You left, Garst. You walked away from PIE, the Empire, me. You didn't even tell me you were going."
"The Empire and PIE have no place for men of ambition anymore. The frontier, that my dear, is where great men will make their mark and carve the next empire. Where the weak perish and only the strong survive. Yes Shalee, that is what I crave. Not the slow death of a complacent empire but the chance to make my mark or die trying on the edge."
"So go," she said dismissively. "No one is standing in your way. Go conquer it all for all I care."
"So that's it? Goodbye and good luck? Don't let the door hit you on the way out?"
"What else do you want me to say? You are leaving regardless."
"Then convince me to stay."
"You wont. There's nothing I can say to make you stay, I can't compete with your quest for glory, for your need to conquer."
"Maybe? You know I'm right. I never could compete."
He was silent.
She stared at the holographic screen, challenging him. "Fine. Stay. I want you to stay."
"Why? So you can have something for and your friends to hate. A puppet to point to and say 'Don't end up like that, oh ye faithful?' I don't want to stay. I want you to come with me."
"Come with you? Abandon the Empire? For what? To what avail?"
"Because I want you to come. Because I want to open your eyes and show you wonders you've only dreamed of, temptations you've denied for so long. There are no rules on the frontier. Only survival and victory."
"And this is what you desire?"
"I desire you. I always have. Must you be be so willfully blind? It hurts me."
"You desire me like a thing, a toy of some sort."
"A toy? Is that to imply that if I open up the back of your shirt I'll find a string to pull, and you'll say things like, "Shall we play a game?" or perhaps give a little judo chop in the air?"
"Something like that."
"You've never taken me seriously."
"No you've never taken me seriously," she retorted sarcastically.
"I don't know anything about pulling your strings but you sure like pushing my buttons. I took you from the brink. You were in tears, so close to leaving everything and since then everything has been downhill." He paused. "Ignoring, belittled, betrayed. These words spring to mind."
"I don't know why you feel like that."
"You wouldn't. You never could and it breaks my heart."
"I don't believe that."
"That my heart is broken? Case in point. You never take me seriously."
Her voice rose. "But you're leaving anyhow. If you cared so fucking much you wouldn't be walking away now would you?"
"This is going nowhere. Start over with me. Please, if you love me at all, come with me."
"No, no. You can't say that. If you loved me, then you'd stay and defend the Empire with me."
"I can't say that? I can't make demands but you can?"
"Why are your demands any more important than mine?"
"My love isn't tied to demands. I'm set on my course, I want to convince you that it's the right one, and that it would be better for both of us."
"And what of Raphael?"
"What of him? I haven't seen him in ages, it feels like years. So what of him?"
"You know I am engaged to him, your friend. Is that how you treat your friends?"
"And when was the last time you saw your dearly nearly betrothed, who engages you and runs off never to be seen again? My dear he's forgotten about you already, he's no doubt in the arms of some gallente whore light years away," he said cruely. "But I cannot forget about you, no matter how hard I've tried. So here I am."
"...why would you say he is with a gallente whore? Why are you doing this to me, Garst...why?"
"It's time you forgot about him like he's forgotten about you. Come away with me, let me love you like you should be." He gave her a charming smile. "Say the word and my men will be over tonight to pick you up and bring you to me."
"I'm not some prize to be claimed Garst."
"Of course not! It was destiny that brought us together, why are you fighting God's will?"
"God's will? You don't even care about God! You're abandoning him! You're leaving the Empire!" She scoffed.
A look of frustration crossed his face briefly as he was caught in his slip of the tongue, "Shalee I'm not the best with words in matters like these...maybe that's why I've never been able to express what I want to say in a way that could make you recognize the sincerity of what I'm telling you..."
"Garst, do you know something you're not telling me? About Raphael."
"You suspect something worse?" He paused, "You do. You know im right."
"I fear the worst. What kind of man would leave the one he loves for so long by choice? It's ridiculous."
"He wouldn't do that to me." Her voice softened.
"Wouldn't he?"She shook her head, "He wouldn't..." She tried to protest, but didn't sound very convincing.
"He left you. I never did. I've been here, day in and day out, no matter whether or not you've noticed me."
"But with your own agenda. At least when he is here is fighting beside me."
"My love is unconditional, no matter where my work takes me."
"Leave me alone...I need time to think."
"I love you, what is there to think about it? We'll speak soon, I can't wait to see you again in the flesh.... " He killed the connection before she could respond.