"You don't have to worry about Verone."
"Why do you trust him?" Eran asked. "I thought you hated pirates."
"I do, usually. But he has been protective of me," she tried to reason.
"When he saw me with Koronakesh, who is a notorious womanizer, he told Gaven, my old CEO. Granted it didn't really help my career any but he did it to protect me. And when he thought Seriphyn was hanging all over me, he intervened again."
"What about if you were to see him in space. Would he protect you then? Or would he kill you and your crew?"
Shalee bit her bottom lip and looked sheepish. "Yeah. Okay. Point taken." Though in the back of her mind she thought no, Verone wouldn't pirate her. Surely not...
Eran shrugged, "I don't know, maybe he wouldn't. I know where my bet would be though. And I'm sure he'd say it was nothing personal, all business." He added with a knowing smile, "...if he did blow you up, that is."
She frowned, not wanting to believe the worst of Verone.
"But whatever," he sipped his wine with the hint of a smirk, "You do what makes you happy. I wont make you stop being friends with Verone....you know how I feel. You make your choices and I will give you my thoughts."
She sat on the floor by the fireplace in the library, furiously scribbling in her diary. The room was quiet save for the burning wood and the occasional gust of wind against the window panes.
I can't believe how utterly stupid I've been. All along people have tried to warn me but I never listened. Even way back when, during the early days of PIE, my superiors tried to warn me of certain types of people. Aldrith has spoken out against them, even Raphael tried to reason with me. But I never really listened. I always assumed it was a control factor, but now I've come to realize it was for my own good.
And like any 'rebellious child' I turned my nose up at their rules and authority and did as I pleased, especially since leaving PIE. Being in the Knighthood with no one to answer to but myself, I've done whatever, whenever.
So if I wanted to fly out to the Last Gate and have a drink with my 'friends', then why not?
But why ever did I think they were my friends to begin with? Why?
Verone has made everything perfectly clear that he holds ISK above everything else. That his greed comes before human life. That the death of innocents mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. The only things that matter to him are money and his mindless little followers.
I don't know whats more pathetic, the fact that he is a greedy ISK whoring bastard or the fact that I ever thought he was anything better than that.
Shalee knocked on the door after being escorted up to his office by one of the security guys.
Ethan Verone, CEO of VETO, buzzed the door lock open and tilted his head with a curious smile.
She stepped inside and smiled, "Hi....thanks for seeing me." She neared his desk, wearing her usual Amarr militia flight suit, her hair pulled back messily as if she hadn't really given it a thought. "Are you busy? Am I interrupting anything...?"
He shook his head with a smile, tapping several times at the interface on his desk "Not at all, please, have a seat," he gestured to the chairs.
She neared the seat and slid into it, "Are you certain?' She blushed ever so slightly. "I mean...I can always come back another time."
Grinning, he said, "It's quiet alright sweetie, take a seat."
She dropped her hands to her lap and rubbed her fingers together, "Thank you."
"So what can I do for you? If it's another elevator ride, unfortunately it's a little busy this time of night." They had once rode the elevator in his hangar for a half hour or more, talking the whole time.
She blushed again, "Oh...I uh...well. No, not exactly." She looked at him for a moment as if trying to gauge his mood. "The thing is..."
He tilted his head and smiled a little, waiting for her to go on.
"Well. I mean...do you know of the Knighthood?"
"Mmm, I do yes," he smiled.
"Right. Of course. Well, the thing is..." She tilted her head to the side as she lifted her gaze, looking at him. "We uh, we aren't like other loyalist corps."
" We don't believe in slavery, you see. And well...I mean. It isn't a secret that we are vastly different. But some of us go a little further, you see. We have high hopes of changing the Empire, from the inside." She hesitated for a second, dropping the tone of her voice almost to a whisper. "Some of us take it even further...we are involved in some very specific 'programs', if you will. That help others..."
"I'm listening, Shalee." He tilted his head, listening carefully.
"Slaves. We help slaves." She couldn't quite hide her nervousness. Though she were smiling her hands were shaking a tiny bit. He was just so big and imposing. "And the thing is, I know that VETO is a pirate corporation and loyal only to yourselves and pretty much, fuck everybody else."
He looked surprised at the use of language and chuckled.
"But...I was just...hoping. That you would have a little bit of compassion, you see. Your pirates hinder my work, if we are being perfectly frank. I work very hard to move people out of the war zone and when your people are shooting at us..." her voice trailed off.
"Compassion in what respect?"
"The only reason VETO exists is to attack others. To rob and steal from them. Granted, I understand that the pilots who venture down to low sec take that risk of being pirated. But there are others, like myself, who are here for a nobler purpose. And I wish your people wouldn't attack those who are trying to do something worthwhile, like transporting slaves out of Amarr space." She paled ever so slightly, " ...and I don't mean to be insulting, if you are taking my words as such."
He smiled softly to her, "While I can appreciate the sentiment, Shalee... I have to run a business. I'm afraid there's little I can do in that respect.
Crestfallen, "I see. So you're okay with running your business at the expensive of human lives."
"There are always casualties in war, Shalee," he answered solemnly.
"That's your answer? And exactly who are you at war with? As far as I can tell, piracy is not a war. There are thousands upon thousands of others who make those choices when they come into these unsafe systems to prey upon. Why can't you leave us out of it?"
"I'm at war with anyone who opposes the pursuit of profit, Shalee. Our bottom line is all that matters, and the safety of our own personnel. We offer safe passage or release for a price, people just need to barter for it. Sadly, most choose not to."
She sat there for a moment in silence as if digesting his words. Finally she nodded, "I see. I don't what possessed me to come here." She laughed awkwardly as she stood up, her nervousness having faded into anger. "Sadly my ass. You're not sad about anything. But you are a sad man if you cant find any compassion to let people live. Everything can't be about money. Somethings can't be bought. Like self respect. I don't even know how you sleep at night."
He continued to smile at her while sighing softly, "I don't like killing people any more than you do, but I do what I do to get the job done."
"Sadly," she scoffed. Her temper was getting the better of her.
"I have a contract to fulfill. Its' that simple."
She slammed her hand against his desk, "You're lying! There are no contracts for piracy! You do what you want because you can."
He towered over the desk as he stood and pointed to the chair she'd been sitting in. He raised his voice, the deep words booming around the room, "SIT DOWN!"
She flinched from his tone and gasped, though she did not sit down. "No. I'm leaving." She yelled back. "I cannot BELIEVE how fucking gullible I was. Everyone told me, over and over, but NO would I listen?"
"Another victim of the mass media, who pretends to know about me. Pretends to know what drives me, what makes me do what I do, when in reality she's just too damn fucking ignorant to listen without immediately forming opinions." He pointed to her, his voice unusually calm, every word concise and well chosen. "You people make me fucking sick, you know that? Every one of you thinks you're some smart ass shrink who knows what goes on in here." He tapped his temple.
"Whats media got to do with anything? I come here asking you for the tiniest bit of mercy and you throw your 'war' and need for money up, as if that should matter more than human lives. I obviously don't know anything about you other than greed."
He shook his head, smirking, "Greed, I like that. Sure, get your self into a headlong mind lock with the mass media sweetie, and live in bliss and ignorance."
"I don't even know what you're fucking talking about. Mass media."
"You'll realize someday, like hundreds of thousands of others have done that I was right, and you were wrong."
She scoffed. "Ha!
"Hopefully before the barrels of someone's Neutron Blaster Cannons are pointed at you."
Incredulously, she stared at him, "Surprised this room can fit your big old head! You are so arrogant!"
He smirked to her, "You seriously don't know me, at all, or what I'm doing. Some day you'll realize what we stand for. Your vision is clouded, by the opinions halfwits like Aldrith Shutaq and that blood traitor you're attached to. You just suck it all in, and don't stop for a second to look at both sides of the fence."
Shalee frowned as her face flushed with hot anger. His smirking only served to infuriate her more. "I know enough to know that all you care about is this band of simpering fools you have assembled around you and ISK."
"You're like a fucking sponge, sucking it all in, until you're saturated with their narrow minded fucking stupidity. It angers me, because you could be so much more, you really could."
"More! What, like you and your lot? Kill for profit? Well OBVIOUSLY you don't know me either if you really think I follow along like some mindless little Sansha!"
He continued to smirk, shaking his head, "Wow, you... really do have no idea."
"It's what you told me. Come from your own mouth."
He started to laugh to himself, smiling to her across the desk, "I guess you're looking for justice? hmm?" He slipped his chrome plated, mirror polished sidearm from the back of his waistband and tossed it onto his desk with a clatter, smirking to her as he opened his arms wide, patting his chest. "Take your justice, Shalee."
She folded her hands across her chest. "Justice? I'm looking to make a difference."
He nodded to the pistol, smirking, "Make a difference, put me out of commission and watch the whole pyramid come tumbling down beneath me."
She glanced down at the sidearm in disgust. "If you truly think I would use that to kill you, then you don't have a fucking clue who I am. Not at all. I came here hoping you'd give a just a bit of mercy and safe passage to our vessels. I wanted to save lives. Not take them."
He pulled his shirt off over his head, patting his broad bare muscular chest with a fist, "So save thousands, do it... go right ahead. Punch holes in me, solve your problem in one simple step, and be done with it. One life, to save thousands. For the greater good. That's how it is, isn't it?"
Angrily she picked up the gun and held it between both hands, "That's what you're asking me to do? To kill you? Don't have enough courage to do it on your own do you? Are you that unhappy?"
He sat back and smiled to her, opening his huge arms. His lightly tanned broad chest rose and fell slowly, every muscle defined as he kept his eyes on hers, "I'm waiting."
She exhaled a frustrated breath. "I guess you are." She lifted the gun and aimed it at his chest. "But we both know I wont do it." She quickly lowered it, "And not because I'm afraid to kill you." she said matter of factly. "But because I know I'd never make it out of here alive. And unlike you, I don't have a death wish right now." She dropped the gun onto his desk with a loud thud.
"Do you feel better, now that you've had a chance to scream at me? Does that satisfy you?"
"Nope. Not at all."
"Then what would?"
"You've already said no." She sighed with frustration, "I'm sorry for coming here, I should have known better."
He shook his crimson covered head to her with a sigh, "Such a closed mind. I hope that it opens in future for you sweetie. I really do." He grabbed his shirt off the desk with a sigh.
Frowning. "Of the two of us, I assure you I am not the one with a closed mind." And with that she turned around and headed for the door.
He smirked, "Fly safe, sweetie. Our staff will see you out."