A scream caught in the back of her throat as she jolted up in bed. Her heart was thundering, breath ragged. Her eyes went wide as she searched the darkness, trying to calm herself, realizing it had only been a dream.
She pulled her legs to the side of the bed and dropped her feet to the floor. An artificial breeze from the apartment's cooling system blew against her, chilling her damp skin. Her nightgown clung to her as she stood up. Goosebumps spread across her bare arms and the back of her neck felt as if some invisible hand were brushing against it. She shivered, feeling strange.
The nightmare hovered on the edges of her mind despite her best effort of trying not to think of it.
As she picked up a robe and slid it on, she forced her attention to the scene beyond the glass walls. Endless space. A thousand lights flickering, both near and far, from stars scattered across the inky blackness and spacecrafts closer to the space station as they came in and out of docking range.
She sat down on a bench in front of the glass wall and pulled her knees up to her chest, watching the station traffic, finding it oddly comforting.
Finally she managed to calm herself enough to think about the dream rationally without falling to pieces over it.
It felt incredibly real, not as if it were some pieced together montage of images floating around in her subconscious when she was asleep but something more. Real. Factual. As if it happened, as if she were reliving some real event in her life.
But that was impossible.
For one, the dream must have taken place a hundred years ago or more. She couldn't be certain of anything save for one thing.
She wasn't dreaming. She was remembering.
"It has to be real," she whispered to the empty room.
Standing, she made her way over to a small holo terminal and sat down to do a search on the Intaki religion via the GalNet.
She was vaguely familiar with their ideas of past lives and reincarnation. Until now, she never really believed in any of it, though until now, she never had a reason to.
Vivid blue gaze locked on the screen, reading the first article she had come across.
One core tenet is that all things are in a cycle. Death leads to rebirth. A solution only leads to more problems. We know that the "soul" or "spirit" is eternal and will be reborn many times to learn new lessons, and once it fuly understands the cycle it may finally move on. The Reborn are an important part of this. These were people who had reached a level of understanding that they may choose to be liberated, but choose to remain and teach others. In earlier times there were many tests and rituals to ensure that a soul had indeed been reborn, and through mental discipline and training these Reborn were able to continue their life work over many lifetimes. These rare people were given the title of Idama.
In modern times, with the assistance of technology, the rebirth process has been made more certain. In fact many of the techniques and experiences of the Reborn have assisted the development and perfection of psyche restoration and cloning. But even today the status of Idama is still reserved for those who have been reborn without assistance.
She rubbed her hands across her face as she sat back in her chair, thinking, trying to make sense of it. What triggered these nightmares in the first place? Was it something in her day to day life that brought them about...or was it someone. Mentally backtracking, she tried to remember the people she had come in contact with during the time she had an episode. Could it be that simple? Could a person trigger this?
And if she were right, if she were some incarnation of someone else, some reborn soul...then was it possible that others were as well? People she knew, were they part of some bigger picture that they just weren't aware of?
It was mind numbing to think of it. To consider the possability that she had lived before...but then again, why was that so improbable? In an age of cloning, what made the idea of being Reborn so unrealistic?
Her Amarrian ideals instantly went to war with the notion of the gallente's religion being true and real.
But if they weren't, then how could she explain remembering a life that wasn't her own?
Bits and pieces of some poor girl's final days during The Reclaiming had been plaguing her for months now. When had it started? She couldn't remember, though definately after she joined PIE.
Did she have some kind of unfinished business with someone in PIE, or someone connected to the corporation?
The screen faded to black as she killed the connection and stood up. "This is absurd."
She started to pace, wishing she had a cigarette to calm her.
Her gaze drifted to the twinkling lights beyond the glass once more.
All of those pod pilots had lived countless lives with the help of cloning. She had 'died' several times herself since coming out of the Naval Academy.
So why not?
She nodded her head as if accepting it as fact. She had lived before. Fine. Okay. No big deal. Or was it?
Wearily her hands slid through her hair again. "So what am I supposed to do now? What am I supposed to remember?"
She made her way back to the holo terminal and sat, this time bringing up an empty file and started to fill it with names.
In no particular order she began listing those people she had regular contact within the last year, then tried to make a loose time line of when she'd dreamed the most.
A pattern started to emerge.
She sat back and stared at the screen, her brows drawn together as realization settled in. Some long ago event was still haunting her and people she knew now somehow were connected to it.
Two hours later she was in the kitchen unpacking. Though it was the middle of the night, she was unable to sleep and needed to keep busy, to keep her thoughts off of everything she had read.
After spending the better part of an hour reading about the Reborn, her search took her in all kinds of directions. Theories about souls and spirits, hauntings and alternate realities.
Once that door was open, once she let in the possability that there may be more to life than what she knew, it had overwhelmed her. She tried not to think about any of it, and instead distract herself with unpacking and recording a journal entry.
She poured herself a drink and hopped up onto the kitchen island, staring off at nothing while she activated the camera drone.
"A few days after we officially opened the corporation, I met up with Zenton at the Last Gate. I had invited him there to ask about Invelious, if he knew where he was, had any contact with him, or could tell me anything at all about his disappearance. I had only meant to ask about Invel but we started talking about other things. Nothing in particular but....it seemed there was just..." She trailed a hand through her hair, "It was like old times, almost. It's easy, being with him. Talking with him."
"The next day he dropped by my office in Arzad out of the blue. He showed interest in the corp, said he wanted to join. He said he regretted all the things he's done, that he wanted to fight for the Empire."
She gave a small shrug, "I thought he was sincere, I thought he meant what he said...but no. Several days later he was back with his old gang. Xaerik. Always Xaerik. He cancelled his application with the Knights and joined Xaerik's pirate corporation. Again."
"A part of me wanted to hate him for it, for getting my hopes up...for thinking that things could be different. But I somehow knew even as he sat in my office telling me he wanted to come back to the Empire that it wouldn't happen. And I was right."
"But...I don't have it in me to hate what he does and I cannot be angry for him choosing something different. A few days later when I was out on patrols with Aldrith and Lucien, Zenton commed and asked me to meet him. He took me into a wormhole that his new corporation had staked out. They had set up a POS, he showed me around."
"...and then he asked me to join him."
"Zenton has always maintained that I belonged with PIE, with the Empire. And now all of a sudden he wants me to leave it all behind? To betray my beloved Empire to join him and his friends in piracy?"
"I had a thousand questions but couldn't seem to ask any of them. All I could do was beg off and get back to my duties. And all I could think of on the patrol route was why? Why did he suddenly want me to leave, why does he want me there with them. With him. Are they just after another recruit or is this personal with Zenton?"
"In the following days, I noticed that they started showing up in my local. At first I chalked it up to coincidence, but then it became so frequent that I figured it was something more."
"On one particular frustrating night when I was on patrols alone, I encountered a bit of trouble while trying to assist the Navy inside a military complex and there was no one around to help. Not in local, not in the corporation, even the Amarrian intel channels were empty. I took a chance and commed Zenton's corporation to check if they were anywhere nearby. Xaerik responded and within minutes was there, fighting my enemies for me."
"Since that night, they have assisted me numerous times whenever I've needed help. If I were still in PIE I'd no doubt be demoted or even booted out for flying with pirates. But Aldrith doesn't seem to mind how I get things done, as long as I do my duty."
"I've always thought of Xaerik as the enemy of sorts. He was the one who lured Zenton into piracy after he left DIA. I couldn't help but hold a grudge against the man...but now I realize I may have judged him too harshly."
"Even he wants me to join." She picked up her data pad and reread the message Xaerik had sent her.
Dear Ms. Shalee Lianne,
It is with great honour and respect that I extend to you an official invitation to join the Proper Villains aquisition and reclaiment services corporation.
We do not extend these invitations to just anyone but you have shown yourself time and time again to be a friend and loyal ally in battle.
If you decide to join you will have a wide variety of assets and services available to you. For example:
- Fully defended POS in wormhole space where you can partake in the aquisition of equipment and salvage from the demonic 'Sleepers'
- A group of competent combat pilots who will fly anywhere to engage in honourable combat with anyone willing (sometimes those unwilling)
- Pilots who have been selected through a rigorous recruitment process for their loyalty, honor and comaraderie.
-A light-hearted, fun filled and active group of allies to share in the good and bad of space-aquisition.
-A bond of loyalty to one another, something that has been hardened by countless battles side by side.
We eagerly await your application and entry into our exclusive organization.
Captain and CEOXaerik.
PS Join or die. <3
She chuckled to herself at the 'ps' part. She couldn't help but let her thoughts drift for a moment, to wonder what it would be like with them, living a life bound to no rules or Empire, loyalty only to those inside your corporation. Flying with Zenton again. Being with Zenton again...if he wanted her like that. It would be so easy to just give up on the war and Empire and everything she fought for to go be a part of them. To let Zenton take care of her like he had done in the early days of her career. Then she'd never have to worry about Garst again, Zenton would take care of it.
Zenton would take care of everything...if only she'd let him.