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."
"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."
"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."
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..."
"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..."
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?"
"Yeah? Why is that a secret?"
"Nobody knows but Soren."
"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?"
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."
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.