This is the diary & short stories of Shalee Lianne, in the fictitious universe, New Eden, in the game of Eve Online. Come be a part of her world...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Entry Seventy Nine: For Love and Empire

Mid March, 112, Before the fall of Arzad

It had been a week since their first encounter. She had met with him almost every night since, doing her 'duty' and distracting him from the warfront as often as possible.

It was too easy of a task. Often she would forget that he was an assignment, that he was a war criminal. A terrorist. One of the leaders of the Tribal Liberation Force. A man who had fought diligently against her people, who had led campaigns in the capture of so many of their systems.

When they were together, he was just another man. One who was charming, fun, and playful. He made her laugh, played silly games with her, taught her how to tribal dance. They had talked, long drawn out discussions about any and everything. He even gave her tips for the battlefield, schooling her in dogfighting and close combat.

She had met him at the Soft River, an establishment he owned.

They had shared a bottle of wine and was in the middle of conversation when both of their comms started beeping at once.

Their eyes locked.

For a moment, neither said anything as they ignored the urgent messages from their respective militias. A military complex in the Arzad system had been scanned down, a system both sides have been fighting over for nearly a month. The Amarrian militia had to defend the complex, the Minmatar wanted to capture it. If they succeeded to capture enough military complexes, the system would become vunerable and allow them to claim it.

Every military complex mattered. Both sides were fighting around the clock for those plexes.

She held her breath, waiting to see what he would do. Would he stay or go?

"I've got to run....will...." He sighed with a sorrowful expression. "...will you still be here?"

She hid her look of disappointment as she scrambled to her feet, "I have to go too..." Bastard.

He kissed her forehead before rushing out the door, "Please don't be mad..."

***

Hours later she reentered the bar, this time wearing her Amarr militia flight suit. Her hair was damp from post-pod shower. She looked tired, her shoulders slumped with defeat.

A part of her wasn't sure what brought her back to him.

He sat on one of the pillows surrounding the low table in the corner.

His gaze anxiously met hers, waiting for her to say something.

She met him at the table and dropped to her knees on the opposite side, resting back on the heels of her boots. Instead of speaking, she poured herself a shot of whiskey and downed it quickly.

"Are you ma-..." he sighed, "....of course."

She held up her finger as if to say -one moment-. She refilled her glass and quickly did another shot.

"...M-more?" He offered to refill her glass.

She nodded, saying nothing. She did the next shot in one big gulp and sat there, waiting for the alcohol to numb it all, to lessen the sting of losing. She couldn't help but to think the one responsible for it was sitting there in front of her.

Eran shifted uncomfortably in the silence, looking at his glass for a minute then up at her, "....so....Lola...." A name she had used during a game of pretend with him. They had decided to be Lola and Tom, ordinary people who had nothing to do with the war, who were not sworn enemies. He stared at her, wincing a bit, hoping for any sign of relief.

She stood up suddenly, face flushed with anger. "I'm not Lola. I'm Shalee Lianne, a Legatus Commodore in the Amarrian Militia, Paladin of the Sword of the Knighthood. And I am your enemy."

Eran Mintor frowned, "No Shalee, you're not my enemy. I can't see you like that."

She threw her glass onto the floor, ignoring the glass as it shattered, her gaze locked with his. "You didn't have to go. You didn't have to leave. If it's going to be a choice between this goddamned war or me, youre going to choose the war. Every time."

He pulled his gaze away, staring off at the murals on the opposite wall, "Would you have not done the same? Would you choose me over your ideals?"

"I didn't leave until you did."

His face was full of regret, "Yes..you don't have to believe me, but you mean a lot to me Shalee....the time we've spent has been short but...."

She cut him off, "I can almost deal with meeting you like this, with it just being 'Lola and Tom'. But when you leave me to go kill my people? Then...what am I supposed to do?"

"I would choose..."

"No. You wont. Don't even say it."

He looked guilty and full of grief.

"And that's okay. I cannot ask you to leave the war when I will not leave it myself. I cannot ask you to switch sides when I wont do it." She couldn't stop trembling, "So here we are."

"I.." He looked to her hopelessly. "I love you though Shalee. I can't help it. I want this to end between us....I don't want us to marked as enemies, because I can't see you that way. I just can't. It doesn't matter what you do....I'm blind, maybe. At this point..." he waved his hand, "but what do these words matter? You're right. I chose my duty over being here with you tonight....not because I prefer it....but...." He stared at her, "I mean....what's my guarantee that if I were to leave this war behind me you wouldn't leave me behind soon enough? I don't know what the future brings. I only know I've been brought to you, and I don't want to break us apart. I want to be here, with you. I don't want to be out there."

"There are no guarantees to anything at all Eran."

He nodded.

"But you went anyhow."

"I know..."

"And it doesn't matter at all. Even if you quit. Even if you switched sides? Even if you joined Amarr? Nobody would trust you."

He chugged down the rest of his drink as if trying to drown out her words with the alcohol.

"And you'd be branded a traitor by your own people."

"Yep...."

"It's a fucked up situation." she said in a low voice.

"It is..."

He sighed and stared at his empty glass, then over at the shattered glass on the floor. He looked back up to her as she towered over him still. "Where do we go from here? This isn't going to work, is it? I mean....I want to be with you but that doesn't mean I can."

Shalee stared at him, suddenly feeling if she couldn't breathe.

"Just kill me now..." He said in a very low voice as he withdrew an old Matari gun from his back holster and extended it to her. "Here....be done with it. I've killed more of your people than I care to count."

Simmering with anger, she stepped closer and took the gun from his hands. Did he think she would not do it? Could not? She curled her fingers around the hilt as her expression turned to misery. Her eyes watered and her hands trembled. Desperation hung on the air, heavy and thick. Emotions churned in her stomach. Hatered, pride, love, rage, duty.

"I don't want to continue...not like this." He lifted his gaze to her.

"And if I kill you I would save so many....one life sacrificed for how many I could save?

"Eran nodded slowly, "Exactly..." He took a deep breath and exhaled, closing his eyes as he prepared himself, "In sha' Allah," he whispered.

Hot angry tears dripped down her cheeks. "This isn't fair." She wrapped both of her hands around the hilt as she took a step back....and raised the gun slightly as if taking aim.

"Life isn't fair..."

She closed her eyes as her finger curled around the trigger. Seconds ticked away as a thousand thoughts ran through her mind.

"Do it..." He pleaded.

She blinked open her eyes and stepped closer, jutting the gun barrel against his chin. "I hate you."

He opened his eyes, as if to look at her one last time. His face softened and he seemed to relax. "I know."

"I hate you so much." She suddenly jerked the gun away and threw it across the floor. Dropping to her knees in front of him, she gasped a strangled little sound as tears blurred everything. "I could have killed you!" She sobbed, "I should have. This isn't fair."

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled in her close. "Oh Shalee, I'm so sorry for what I've done to you. This isn't fair to either of us." He rubbed her back gently holding her close, "Someday..."

"Don't." A muffled plea against the side of his neck. Tears dripped down her cheeks. "Don't make promises you wont keep." She sniffled, "And don't lie. I can't bear it."

"I just hope that someday this will be in the past, and we can move forward. I don't want to be stuck here....pretending....and you hating me." He stroked his fingers along her cheek, "I don't want to betray your trust. I can't....I feel like I already have. You're the biggest obstacle to me continuing on, and I'm afraid of losing you to this damn war." His voice dropped to a soft whisper, "Tell me what I should do. Tell me what you want me to do."

"I will not. Because you know what I will say. You know what I want." She clung to him helplessly.

"I never wanted to be in the war. I always felt like I had no choice, but the people needed my help." He brushed his lips against her forehead, "I don't want to betray anyone. Not you, nor my people who depend on me ...my family...friends...."

"No matter what you do you'll be betraying someone, Eran."

He burried his face in her hair, "I don't want to have to harm you... but I can't continue like this. You're the only thing I care for anymore."

Her mouth suddenly closed over his, smothering whatever else he intended to say. He might have had victory on the battlefield but this victory belonged to her.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Entry Seventy Eight: Beneath a Pirate's Heart

March 6th, 112


Xaerik kicked his feet up onto the table in one of the booths in the back while reaching into his jacket, producing a pipe and lighter. He began to pack the pipe as he noticed the red-headed Ni Kunni at the bar.

"Give the lady a drink. On us," he instructed the dreadlocke'd bartender.

Shalee waited for her glass of wine then made her way over to his booth.

"Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all," he said as he motioned across from him, taking a long pull of the pipe.

She slid into a seat opposite of him. "I wanted to thank you."

He broke into a chuckle, "For what? Turning your boy into a pirate?"

"For not killing me earlier."

He furrowed his brow for a moment, "Not killing you? You and I both know I could never do that."

She shrugged lightly, "I don't know. For a moment when I saw you on the overview, red and flashing. Well. I mean, I hoped you wouldn't but I couldn't know for certain. You really have no loyalty to me."

He tilted his head in a pause, "To you... no. But my loyalty to Zenton is unquestionable and whether you realize it or not... that grants you immunity." He smiled and tapped out the pipe onto the floor.

She sipped on her drink. "Why? Zenton and I are just friends, I barely even see him anymore. He would rather spend his time with you." She shrugged again, though it was obvious that she was bothered by it.

He kicked his feet off of the table and leaned in towards Shalee, "Your world is one he is not welcome in, where he is chained by rules and obligations to causes he doesn't believe in. If he was capable of changing the minds of those he's wronged as well as his own in order to retake his place with you in the stars he would in a heartbeat. Not a day passes without his braying in my ear about returning to faction space to," he put his fingers up in air quotes, "'liberate the locals'. We both know that means he wants to look for you."

She sat silent for a long moment, thinking. "Do you really believe that? And why does he tell you that he doesn't believe in my cause but when he is with me, he says differently. That he has regrets. That he wants to come back to the Empire."

Xaerik motioned for someone to bring him a drink, "Regret is a funny thing. He truly may want to come back to the Empire but that doesn't mean he can. Part of him will always be an Amarrian Loyalist, my dear... but the path he walks now is not something he can go back from."

"Is it because of you? What kind of hold do you have over him? Why does he stay?"

He sipped his drink quietly, "I don't keep him here. All I offer is a place where he can be his own man. Win or lose, everything is done by his hand not that of a God or Empress. I offer freedom."

A frown tugged at her mouth. "He doesn't even believe in God anymore?" She suddenly felt cold, thinking that it was her fault. Her thoughts drifted back to a time when she told him she didnt believe in God. She planted that seed...and now she was paying the price for it.

He finished off the drink in one gulp and laughed, "You Amarrians are all the same. How do you even know your God is the true god? Isn't there a plethora of religions abound in New Eden... why are they wrong and you right? The only thing I believe in is my self and my brothers." He sighed, "I apologize, I shouldn't attack your beliefs... they are your own to have."

"The man I once knew believed. He gave everything for God, for Empire. I don't understand how he has fallen so far from that, from what he used to believe, what he used to be."

"Fallen? Or seen the light? I fought for the same Empire, for the same God... or do you not remember?"

"Many people fight for the Empire without meaning it. Like the Hell Jumpers, they just wanted easy combat. But Zenton was different, it meant something to him. Yes I know you fought for the Empire....but I didn't really know you then, I don't know what was in your heart, what mattered to you. But I knew him."

"Have you ever asked him? Why he flies with me? Why he left the Empire?"

"Two weeks ago he was in my office asking to join my corporation, saying he regretted leaving the Empire, that he regretted the things he has done. Do you think if I ask him he will give me an honest answer? Hell, he probably doesn't even know himself."

He chuckled and leaned back into the padding of the booth. "True enough. I will not profess to know what lies in the heart of Mr. Karvash. I do know I trust him and that is enough for me."

"So why did you leave? What happened to make you step away from the Empire?"

He tapped his chin with his index finger, "I embraced the nature of my people in the crudest of senses. I was born and bred to fight for your God and your Empire. I was Kameiras. It's an odd thing to realize you were created out of need for more warriors then out of love. I don't even know if I have parents." He frowned, "Same could be said for countless others of my kind born into utility under the Empire."

"Parents are over rated." Thinking of her own Father.

"I wouldn't know. I just know that I wanted a life of freedom where my mistakes and my merits are my own and not owed to some God or cause I was born into."

"I think I can understand that." She pulled herself up out of the booth, "I should be going, got to get back out there...maybe I'll see you again."

He stood up to meet her and extended a hand, "I hope so."

She glanced to his offered hand and then lifted her gaze, meeting his as she slipped her fingers onto his. "Thank you again, for all of the times you've saved me."

He gave a firm shake, "You know our comm channel, anytime you need it."

She smiled as she shook his hand just as firmly, "Yup. I do. And if you see Zenton tell him..." She hesitated. "Actually. Tell him nothing. Good night Xaerik."

*****

"You're playing a dangerous game little girl."

Shalee slanted her gaze to Kathetel, frowning. "Don't call me that."

Kathetel folded his arms across his chest as he leaned lazily against the wall just beside her apartment door.

"So you went to the Capsized & Cadavers and had a little chat with Xaerik, CEO of Proper Villians. Looking for Zenton, I presume? Always running to Zenton when you're in trouble, I've noticed."

"It's none of your business what I do."

"Ah ah ah. And that is precisely where you are wrong. You belong to us, remember?"

"I belong to no one," she said in a strained, tired voice. "Look, what do you want from me? I've done as you've asked. I met with Eran again."

He ignored her question as he lit up a cigarette, "We know that the pirates protect you. Why? Is it because of Karvash?"

She said nothing.

"He once fought valiantly for the Empire. I believe he could be persuaded to once again...with the right motivation."

"No. I will not be used in any more of your twisted plans. Not against Zenton...no." She shook her head.

"Do you not care about his salvation?"

"Of course I do, but I cannot be the one to bring him to it."

"You could, you know."

"No. Not like that."

"The end justifies the means," he countered.

"Not always. And anyhow..he is happy where he is. I would not change that. I would not ask him to leave to fight a war he doesn't believe in. If he wanted to be there, he would be. Bottom line. I have no control over what Zenton does...never have."

"We need your cooperation in this matter. There's a lack of morale among the militia. Pilots are growing restless, dishearted as we lose system after system."

"And you think Zenton is the answer?"

"He could be, yes. A part of it anyhow. When he fights for Amarr he is relentless. He could lead us to many victories on the battlefield, you know. It would be an inspiration."

"At what cost? You'd have me toy with his affections?"

"Would it be a lie...?"

She hesitated. How did she feel about Zenton? She cared. Of course she cared. Did she still love him? Was it love?

...yes.

She had never stopped, not really. Her feelings for Zenton were overshadowed by Raphael, but they were not gone, not completely.

He smiled as realization flashed across her face. "All you have to do is convince him to return...and you'll be one step closer to finding the answers you seek."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Entry Seventy Seven: Of God and Empire

Two months ago:

She jolted up in bed to the sound of crashing thunder, instantly assaulted by the smell of smoke. She panicked as she glanced about the dark room.

A few feet from her bed, she could make out the faint silhouette of a man smoking a cigarette.

She blinked, trying to adjust her vision to the darkness as she forced herself awake. Several things came to mind at once.

She was on a space station and there shouldn't be any thunder. Secondly, and more importantly, she was supposed to be alone.

"Quite dramatic, don't you think?" He swayed his hand slowly, leaving a streak of burnt orange light in front of him. "I've always enjoyed a good thunderstorm. Seems the appropriate mood for our little talk. Hope you don't mind the jack-in to your holographic system."

The voice was eerily familiar. Kathetel. An Imperial Agent who was working with Micah on the Priboj case several months back. He had nearly killed her at St. Alms Cathedral and would have succeeded if Vlad Cetes hadn't have come to her rescue.

But he was supposed to be dead. She watched him die, had seen Vlad's security team shread him to pieces. Though she had thought the same of Micah. Of course she should have realized the agent would have had a soft clone. Of course.

He exhaled a mouthfull of smoke, "You thought you were free of me." The corners of his mouth twisted up into a slight smirk, "I can see it on your face."

"I should have known better..."

"Indeed. What good are we to the Empire if we can die by a few stray bullets hmm?" His tone was mocking. "But don't worry your pretty little head over it, I am not here for revenge."

"No?"

He laughed. "If I wanted revenge..." His gaze slid across her thin nightgown.

She jerked the sheet up around her shoulders.

He laughed again. "Bygones, and all of that. No my girl, we have much bigger plans for you now."

Thunder rolled across the room again, "What do you want from me?"

"You were contacted by the Minmatar General, Eran Mintor last night in Kurniainen."

She frowned deeply, "It wasn't like that, I don't know him. It was a random thing, I'm no traitor."

He laughed as he lowered his cigarette. "We know." He ran his thumb over a small hand-held device, replaying the voice comms from local the previous night.

***
Location: Kurniainen
Region: The Bleak Lands
Occupancy: Minmatar


"What's your interest in this Blooder infested land anyway?"

"Hmmm?"

"Why are you here, rather."

"Why are you here?"

"Because I have a store of drones and I just needed to replace them...at this location."

"Mmmm."

"....but now I see you're possibly trying to assault Minmatar Naval forces. Or could it be coincidence this facility is open...."

"You should probably station camp me." she retorted with equal sarcasm.

"I probably shouldn't."

"Suit yourself."

"But how are you, anyway? I know that station to be cozy."

"Oh, I'm perfectly lovely, thank you for asking."

"Good good. Looks like nobody has died in this facility yet, for that I'm grateful. Forgive me for assuming you had. Would I be wrong to you assume you will?"

"Mmm you would be wrong, yes. My patrol shift is done."

"Really? Not your usual hours..."

"Are you familiar with my usual hours hmmm?"

"Approximately..." He chuckled, then asked; "Well would you care to join me for drink?"

"A drink? With you? What, so you can kill me with your bare hands?"

He laughed, "No m'dear. I am just in need of some good company, and it has been awhile since I have shared a drink with an Amarrian."

She seemed to hesitate. "Yeah. Okay. On one condition."

"What is that?"

"Face to face, not VR."

"Of course. Your place of choice."

"The Last Gate?"

"Or if you have none in mind I know of a place but its in Metropolis..."

"Whats your place?"

"A place I used to work when I was a kid....it's very quiet."

"Yeah okay. Send me the coords.... I'll meet you there."

***
Kathetel stood. "So you met with the illustrious General in Yrmori."

"Yes. I thought that...that just having him off of the warfront for a few hours would help give our militia a much needed respite. Mintor is infamous for his zealous drive. He doesn't stop, he's like a machine." She didn't know why she felt the need to justify her actions. It was harmless meeting. And anyhow, she wasn't in PIE any longer, technically she was free to talk to whomever she wanted.

He nodded. "Indeed. And what did you think of him?"

She shrugged.

"You will meet with him again."

"What? No...no. He is a terrorist for God's sake. It was a one time thing, I probably shouldn't have to begin with." She could just hear her old Captain's voices scolding in the back of her mind. She silently shushed Mitara and Laerise.

"But he has shown an interest in you, and dear girl, we will use that to our advantage."

"No."

He scoffed, "You speak as if you have a choice in the matter. You are a sworn defender to Empress and Empire, and that means you will follow orders."

"But...I can't kill him in cold blood. Even if I should somehow get the opportunity to do so...I couldn't. Don't ask that of me..."

"All we want is for you to distract him. Keep him off the battlefield as much as possible. Gather intel whenever you can. Charm him." He smirked, "It's not like it's a chore for you."

"Fuck you."

"Mmm no. I'll let your General have the honors." He deliberately dropped his gaze to the sheet she had wrapped around her, "For now, anyhow."

"And if I should say no?"

"But you wont. You will do your duty like a good little soldier." He took a final draw from his cigarette. "Anyhow." He tapped his fingertip to his temple. "Superiors thought of that. In case that defiant little temper of yours kept you from agreeing..." He tossed a datapad onto the bed with a picture of Raphael, half starved, bloodied, beaten.

She stared at it then lifted her gaze to him, "How is this even possible...I saw him the other day...."

"The man that came back to you isn't who you think he is. 'Your' Raphael is in captivity, still." He motioned for her to change the display picture. She slid her thumb across the screen. The next photo was of Micah. "Just keeps getting better, doesn't it?" He nodded again, as if to urge her on. The screen flashed with a photo of Michael Priboj in a cell, haggard and worn, beaten.

"But-but...how? Where are they!"

"You want answers? You follow orders, and everything will be revealed in due time." He dropped the butt of his cigarette into the ashtray at her nightstand. "By the by, you really need to be more careful." He pulled a handful of broken surveillance devices from his pocket and dropped them into the ashtray as well. "Your apartment was buggier than a garbage bin. Someone is keeping tabs on you. Or someones, I might say. Passed a few spooks on the way in here, and not ours."

"Oh god...can this get any worse?"

He leaned over and pressed his finger beneath her chin, tilting her head up to meet his gaze, "Definately."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Entry Seventy Six: Virtual Sleepwalking

Shalee had fallen asleep in her Arzad apartment, alone and exhausted.

Though physically she slept, her troubled thoughts whirled around her subconscious, memories and scenerios playing out as if trying to work themselves out. She rolled over on the bed, restlessly kicking off the sheets.

Moments later, the holoprojector beside her bed lit up as she subconsciously activated it.

A fragmented part of her manifested into the virtual world, and eventually connected to Vlad Cete's holographic equipment.

Her avatar took the form of herself at a younger age, from the night she was forced to do her first blooding.

CABAL incoming signal on VR channel Hotel, engaging VR equipment. Initating VR.....standbye.

"What is this...?" Vlad paused in the corridor, his gaze scanning over the young girl. He lifted his brows as he recognized her, "Shalee?"

She wore a long white ceremonial dress, splattered with blood. Her hair was tangled about her shoulders, her arms and hands stained red.

"Little girl, what is with that blood?" He moved closer to her.

She took a step backwards as her expression flashed with defiance. "You will not touch me."

He paused a few feet from her, "Why not? You are on my ship...why are you here?"

"Because I have to tell you something."

"What then? Speak." He folded his arms as he looked at her.

"You have to stop him."

"Him? Who is 'him'?"

"Garst Tyrell. You have to stop him. He is going to kill everybody." She stared at him, her eyes wide, unblinking.

"Using what? There are several ways to kill 'everybody'."

She started to pace the corridor, "I don't know. He told her that he would kill everybody if she doesn't come to him. He wants her."

He watched her pacing, momentarily distracted by the bloody footprints she left. "Use a decoy then."

She shook her head, "It wont work. He is powerful. He wants to make her do things." Her expression shifted into something darker, troubled. "He told her he would kill them all with poison."

"Kill them all with poison? Poisons have anitdotes. Or you could create a state of mutually assurred destruction."

She stared at him as if she didn't understand.

"I have stocks of an aerosol know of VX. Minor currently but production can be ramped up."

"To do what with?"

"You could threaten to realease the VX on a population he is connected with."

She shook her head, "She will not do that. You know she wouldn't do that." She started to pace again, "You have to kill him. Make him stay away from her." She stopped at the end of the corridor and glanced over her shoulder at him, "Can you do that?"

"It will have to be discreet. I cannot kill him in space due to his blue standing."

She furrowed up her thin little brows. "But you're the only one who can stop him!" She stomped her foot. "He will hurt her. He will hurt everybody if he isn't stopped!" Her face glistened in the pale artifical light as tears streaked her cheeks, "And nobody cares, nobody cares anymore."

"I do care, but it wont be easy to kill him, not while we are allies."

She frowned deeply as her face flushed with sudden rage. "So you wont do it. You wont help her! You don't care! You said you cared I heard you say it before but you don't!" She screamed at him as she paced the corridor. "You LIED to her. I thought you were different but you're NOT!"

"I can help you. I simply have to be discreet." He tried to reason, his voice eerily calm and emotionless. A perfect contrast to her hysteria.

She squeezed her little hands into tight fists, smearing the blood. "You have to kill him and you have to get the antidote to his poison and you have to do it soon." Her eyes widened, "Or else we're all going to die."

The hologram faded.

***
She reappeared in a virtual world, one she had visited several times in the past to clandestinely meet with a Minmatar General.

Alone, she knelt by a large pool with a fountain in the center. White columns surrounded the water, at the base of each sat a large brazier flickering with high flames.

She started to hum as a flock of sparrows circled around her head. She watched in awe, then darted her hand out to catch one.

Hugging it to her chest, she whispered to it soothingly, rocking back and forth, petting it across it's tiny head. "I'm sorry..." she whispered to it as she leaned forward, dipping it into the pool, submerging it underneath the water. It struggled against her hands, wings splashing up water for a few moments...and then it went still.

Water rolled down her wrists as she pulled it out of the pool, calmly sat it in front of her and sliced it's head off. Blood stained the marble floor as she seperated head from body.

By the time he found her she had a stack of corpses and heads.

"..Hey there...what's you're name, sweetie?" He stepped closer to her, his mouth dropping as he looked at the bloodied water.

She lifted her vivid blue gaze and locked it with his. "Don't you know?"

"Sh-sha...Shalee?" His voice cracked.

She gave no outward sign of hearing him, instead looking away to pull the blade across the sparrow's neck. Warm blood flowed across her damp hands.

She placed the dead body on the stack with the others, then smeared her hands down the front of her dress. "She doesn't know I am here."

He knelt as his legs began to shake. " ...Ahh" He looked at her softly, "So what's your name?" He whispered his own to her.

"I know." As if by thought, several sparrows start to circle overhead again. She snaked a hand up to capture one. She held it to her chest, running her finger along the top of it's head.

He extended his hand to her. "May I have the knife?"

She looked at his hand reluctantly. "No." Her lips pursed as her eyes flashed with sudden anger. "You aren't going to take it from me."

He shifted, sitting next to her, dropping his legs into the bloody water. "So what's your name?" He asked as he looked at her face, his brows furrowing as he frowned.

She seemed to relax as he gave up on taking the knife. She continued to pet the sparrow's head, careful not to cut it. "You already know." Sideglancing, she stared at him, "She is angry with you."

"Huh? Shalee is? What is she angry about?"

Her little head nodded. "Because you left her. She doesn't like being alone."

"Oh..."

"Bad things happen when she is alone. You said you would protect her, but you haven't."

"What do you mean? Has something happened?"

"Garst has contacted her again. He says he's coming for her....and nobody is there to stop him," she whispered.

He growled, side-glancing at the knife and then the girl, "What else do you know?"

She shrugged indifferently, "I know everything." She tapped her finger to her temple, dropping the knife. "I'm here. Inside of her mind, I see everything, I hear it all, I know it all."

"I'm leaving today...I just need to find one of my friends and I'll be back but...it could already be too late...when is he coming for her? Do you know?"

She shook her head, "She does not know. But he wont stop til he has her." Her little brows drew together as a look of misery washed across her face. She turned to face him. "He is like Hadi."

"Hadi?"

"Hadrien Lianne. Her brother. He was the one who loved her most. Just like Garst. And then he was was the one who made her do things." She glanced to the bloodied knife. "Horrible things."

Looking up, he watched the sparrows circling overhead, "I don't understand...what does Garst want with her? Her love?" He dropped his gaze, looking at her with pity, stretching a hand out to wipe a bloodied lock out of the way of her eye.

She continued to stroke her fingers across the sparrow's head, cooing to it, her voice soft and sweet, soothing. "He was good at first, then like Hadi he turned bad. Hadi made her...." she fell quiet as he brushed her hair from her face. "...kill people." Her blue gaze locked with his. "She didn't want to but she had to. So many people. So much blood." Her nose wrinkled, "And Garst wants to make her do things she doesn't want to."

He pursed his lips and blinked, "I see..." He trailed his hands back thru his dreads and stared at the bloodied water. "I need to get back...before Arzad falls again." He sighed, "Shalee..." He leaned back and stood up, pacing around behind her.

She placed a small kiss on top of the bird's head before leaning forward, submerging the sparrow into the bloodied water. It tried to spread it's wings and fight against it but she continued to hold it down until it quit struggling. "What?"

He stopped by a column and looked over at the girl, frowning when she responded. "Why are you doing that?"

"Because it has to die."

"Says Hadi?"

She shook her head no, "Because it's beautiful."

"But why must everything beautiful die from your hands?" He was silent, stumped by what he heard. "All things come to pass..."

"Not everything."

"Okay, well why these birds?"

She flicked her gaze up, watching the sparrows soar around, elegant and graceful. She smiled eerily while she watched them then looked to him suddenly, "Because you love them..."

"....w-what?"

She pulled the dead sparrow from the water and laid it on the marble floor in front of her, taking the knife and slicing it's head off as she had done all the others. "They have to die because you love them."

"I don't understand...why are you killing the things I love? Are you going to hurt Shalee?"

Rage flushed her face as she stood up, blood soaked dress wet clinging to her, hair tangled, gaze wild. Her fingers clinched, "No! I am her!" She stared at him with hatred. "But why do you love the other?"

"The other?" He leaned back against the column and looked at her with confusion.

Saying nothing, she turned away from him and started to kick all of the corpses into the water.

He walked to her and extended a hand to her, "Let's go."

"Go? Go where?"

"Uhm.." He scratched his head.

She slipped her hand into his outstreched one, eerily calm once more. The corners of her mouth lifted into a twisted little grin. "Want to know a secret?"

"...s-sure."

"Hadi's dead."

"Yeah? Why is that a secret?"

"Nobody knows but Soren."

"Oh..."

"She tried to tell you," she pouted.

"Did you kill him?"

She nodded. "Soren was sick and she went to check on him and Hadi was there and he had him tied up and said she had to kill him. Hadi wanted to take her back home."

"Hmm.." He knelt down to look at her square in the eye, "Where do you want to go if not back home?"

"Are you coming back?"

"Back?"

She nodded, "She wants you to come back. You've been gone a very long time."

"I am coming back as soon as I find my friend. He's gone missing..."

She suddenly looked over her shoulder as if staring off at something unseen. Her brows furrowed, then she looked to him again. "Missing?"

"Yea....missing...disappeared...gone. I don't know where he is. But I'm sure someone can point me in the right direction."

"You will stay until you find him?"

"....or find out what happened to him."

She whispered, "He is dead?"

"I don't know that," he scrowled. "He could have gone off to visit a friend of his here." He blew out a frustrated breath, "or...I dont know."

"Do you need her to come there?"

"She's not safe here."

"She's not safe anywhere."

He sighed.

She looked over her shoulder again, "She's waking up."

"Oh? What are you going to do?"

Her brows scrunched up as she listened to something unseen in the holoworld, "Someone is there." She turned to look at him again. "Don't tell her I was here she does not know and will not remember."

"Okay..." He looked at her with sorrow.

Her hologram flickered. "Oh no..." She reached for him, trying to grab hold of him suddenly, terror streaking across her face.

"Shalee?" His arms entwined around her protectively.

She screamed out, caught between the two worlds, half seeing what Shalee is seeing while she is waking up. "Someones there..."

"W-what? Tell me what you see."

Her face paled, "You have to help..." The holochild faded suddenly.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Entry Seventy Five: Watching you..

(Shortly after the fall of Arzad...)

Dearest Shalee,
I have wonderful news my love, we will soon be reunited. No need to worry about the specifics now, but rest assured that you are being watched, and that color looks beautiful on you (the earrings go well with it).
I find your new hobby with the 'saving' the slave rabble quite intriguing, you always were a bit of eccentric.
Always with the weird hobbies, but perhaps it's exactly that neurotic streak that made me fall for you. Or maybe it was that ass. Either or.
In any case our last encounter inspired me.
As im sure you are well aware Arzad has fallen (better luck next time, im sure you did your best and all that) and slaves in that sector are now much more ...expensive.. to come by.
I find that quite annoying.
Frankly I find our last encounter quite annoying as well, and not at all as romantic as the one before.
Fortunately, I have the perfect solution. Partially due to your betrayal (you always did play hard to get my precious butterfly) I will soon find myself back in the Devoid Region.
Business, politics, war and destruction, etc etc.
YOU will accompany me on certain trips to procure replacement slaves for my alliance's efforts down south now that were mobilizing. You've already put me far behind schedule.
Now, besides the obvious fact that you will look for any excuse to spend time with me, no matter how well you hide your private emotions, I have an extra incentive for you to come along.
We're going to pay your safehouses a visit, and you will empty them of slaves and entrust them to my loving care. For free naturally. You have quite the debt to pay off and im sure you know of plenty of runnaway slaves due to your connections.
I cant wait to see you again, I love mixing business with pleasure.
With love,
Your beloved Garst
PS.
I will mail you further details where you will meet me. If you fail to turn up, or the safehouses mysteriously empty of slaves before I arrive, my agents will release various viral strains outlawed in 'civilized' empire into the matari populations of a dozen worlds in the Devoid cluster, and I promise you they will enjoy shorter and more painful lives than the slaves entrusted to my care will.
Food for thought.


***

Shalee was docked up in Tararan when she got the message. Her thoughts drifted to the hundreds of slaves that had been free'd over the last month or two. For nothing, if Garst should find them. She sent him a return message.
::::Don't do this. Surely there are other ways to make money, other places to go. Why here? Why can't you let it go.::::


Garst had been walking down the corridor of his commandship when the bridge forwarded him her private communication. He frowned as he sent a return message.
::::You took something that belongs to me. War is in the wind but like everything else war is a slave to budgeting and bureacracy. I need those slaves, and I wont spend another isk on them that could be better spent on another round or scorch crystal for my arsennal. When I call for you, you will come. And you will do exactly what I say, when I say. It's as simple as that.::::

She sighed heavily as she read the incoming message then fired off a response.
::::Garst I will do no such thing. I would rather die than have you undo all of the work I've accomplished these past months. You think I'm going to sacrifice all of those lives to save my own? You should know me better than that.::::

He growled and clenched his fists as he read her message.
::::I dont believe I threatened you but I like the way you think. Not only will I infect every slave and matari I find with the life eater strain, I'll save a little vial for Tararan.::::
He smashed the send button.


She paled. He knew where she was? She'd just given her crew a few hours of downtime, she couldn't even leave if she wanted to.
::::I hate you.::::

He sent a final message with a picture attached, one taken of her during surveillance.
::::I'll see you soon, and I was serious about the earrings. You should wear them when you meet me, I want you looking your best.::::