Five weeks had passed since the brutal kidnapping of Invelious, former CEO of Deus Imperiousus Acies.
During the following days after his abduction, Shalee had spent as much of her down time as she could trying to track him down, following the one clue he had left behind. A secret set of files hidden away in his office. It had led her on a wild goose chase with no real answers and only more questions.
From there, she had started to investigate him as much as possible without being obvious, trying to glean any bit of information that would lead her to him.
While visiting Zenton in sleeper space, Shalee had rumbled through Zenton's room when he was out, not particularly looking for anything, just being her usual curious self. Afterall, Zenton had been her first real love and she felt a bit of entitlement in going through his things. And he probably wouldn't mind anyhow if he knew. She rationalized her snooping by thinking if he had anything to hide he wouldn't have asked her to come in the first place.
By chance she found some boxes left over from his time in DIA. He had been one of Invelious's right hand men and was privy to a lot of inside information, things that might aide her investigation. After half an hour of reading over various files, she'd come away with nothing but an address of a house that Invelious kept on Avair. It could be nothing, most likely was unimportant but she had to check it out, just to make certain.
Two days later she had left word with her CEO, Aldrith Shutaq, that she was going away from the warfront for a day or so without leaving a reason why. She'd been pulling double shifts that she felt secure enough to take a night off without it causing too much problems.
Not wanting to pull anyone else off of duty to accompany her, she'd asked Vlad Cetes if he'd take her there. She really didn't know why she felt safe with him, there was really no reason to...except he had saved her life, once.
Within a few hours, he met her in Arzad, her current home station. He disembarked from his transport, bringing with him two security guards dressed in uniform.
"All set?" She eyed the guards curiously, then glanced to Vlad.
"Affirmative. Follow me." He made his way back onto his Manticore class stealth bomber.
She moved along after him, trying to squash the butterflies in her stomach. She was nervous without really understanding why. Once aboard the manticore, she handed over the coordinates "This is our destination."
"Unknown location, where is this?" He asked as he plugged them into his navigation computer.
"Avair. I've found out that Invelious has a house there...I need to investigate it."
She was mostly silent for the first few jumps. Once they neared the Avair system, she finally broke the silence by asking, "Your corporation would consider me an enemy would they not?"
"My corporation has you set at neutral."
"Do they not care that you are with me?"
"Yes but, the whole NBSI policy. And well...I've heard of what is happening in Provi. With CVA and all. Those are our allies...which makes you an enemy of sort."
"We are allowed to associate with neutrals, we are also allowed to shoot them...at our discretion." He smirked.
"Strange when you think about it."
"Your allies are dead, it is best to move on and act in your bests interests."
"As an entity they are dead."
She nodded, knowing he was right. "What will happen now? To CVA, I mean." She had been following the situation in Providence as most everyone else loyal to the Empire.
"I do not know, nor especially care."
"Fair enough, I suppose. So what do you care about?"
"I care about -A-, and H A V O C." His corporation and alliance.
"...and what about me?" She asked, unable to truely figure him out. She never understood his interest in her. It wasn't sexual, it wasn't out of any kind of emotion. Other men wanted to claim her as a prize, wanted to dominate her, make her love them. But not Vlad. "Why are you here with me?"
"I see you are one who could be saved."
"Saved from what?"
"Saved from the human remnants."
"Oh. We are back to that again. I don't want to live in an emotionless world, Vlad. I need love."
"Love is not a necesity."
She shrugged, "It is, for me. I don't want to be a drone." She glanced out the window as they neared their destination, regretting bringing it up.
Fifteen minutes or so later, they were approaching a house. She paused, glancing at it from the walkway. A chill of unease snaked down her spine. "Here we are."
He scanned it, seeing nothing amis, "What is significant about this house?"
"It is a private residence of Invelious...not many people know about the place. I was hoping to find something, anything, that will help me find him."
"Find him? What is he needed for? And when did he disappear?"
She neared the house and frowned at no obvious door, just a few crucifixs scattered along the wall in no particular pattern. "A few weeks ago. He and I were talking via holo and I watched as someone kidnapped him."
"Roger. Do you know what location the emitter would be?"
"No." She neared the house and hesitated, not wanting to give up so easily. Absently she trailed her fingertip across one of the crosses, examining it. She winced as something pricked her finger. Blood dripped onto the cross and it triggered some sort of mechnasim that opened a secret door.
"Oh god, that scared me."
"Hold up. Let me secure the room, there may be something secret hidden." He turned to the security guards, "Secure an exterior perimeter, weapons free."
She stood outside, waiting. A few moments later he motioned her in.
"There is a painting, oil, no emissions in either infrared or other electromagnetic spectrum."
She wandered into the room, her brows drawn together. She moved over to the painting and paused before it. "Have you ever seen anything like it?" Her arms folded across her chest as she stood there, staring at it. Something pricked her subconscious, a nagging thought that she should recognize it, that it was familiar somehow.
"Negative. It appears somehow related to this artifact." He pointed towards the spear...however do not touch it."
She turned her gaze to the glass case and stepped over to it. She knelt down to get a better look. "Why?"
"It could somehow be connected to his disappearance, do not touch anything."
She held her hands up suddenly afraid. "This place gives me the chills."
"There is a communication device here." He pulled out a portable communicator, "Use the shipmounted codebreaker to hack this device, get a log of all comms made and received within the past two months."
She moved over to the glass case and knelt down in front of it, her gaze locked on the contents. Vlad followed her over and knelt on the opposite side. Her gaze met his through the glass.
"It appears 3000 years old and ceremonial in nature. The handguard is smooth, too smooth to be a real combat implement. Look at the handguard." He motioned towards a part of the weapon. "I do not have knowledge of what ceremonies this would be used for, perhaps a war ceremony?"
"What would Invelious be doing with it?"
"Perhaps he would be involved with such ceremonies. Or it may have historical value I am unaware of. Or it may be an interesting weapon." He gave a small shrug, "I do not know."
"Neither do I. Did you find anything on his comm device?"
"A comm made to an Amarrian called "curator" in its listing. We would need to track this human down and find out what he knows. I would assume it is something to do with this spear."
She opened her mouth as recognition spread across her face. "I've heard of that name before! Koronakesh told me of him."
"What did Koronakesh mention?"
"That he can decipher some files I got from Invelious's office. It's in some old ancient language."
"Roger. We will need to contact this curator. I would advise an armed escort, but not an overly large show of force... he could be "invited" to a secure location and made to decipher the files."
Shalee gave him a look through the glass, her mouth opened to protest....and then she quickly closed it. She was getting desperate enough to try anything, "Yeah, okay.