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...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Entry Ninety Eight: The Secret

Tears streaked her cheeks as she sat there, numb from over stimulation. Colors blurred, sounds were distorted, smells intensified.

She could hear someone trying to talk to her but they seemed very far away, a voice hidden behind a door at the end of a long hall.

She shook her head, trying to make sense of what was happening.

"Commodore." the faintest of whispers. The voice, familiar. She latched on to it in the cacophony of sounds, using it as an anchor.

"Commodore Lianne. Do you hear me?" His voice was more forceful, demanding.

She gave a quick shake of her head as she forced her mouth open, "I hear you."

Her voice sounded alien to her, and very far away.

She latched onto the sides of the cloning vat, dizzy and nauseated.

"Where am I?" she asked, though she already knew.

"Amarr, Emperor Family Academy Space Station. You had an accident."

Accident. A polite way of saying you died. That moments earlier you were far across the galaxy and someone killed you. That some part of you was still out there, floating in space, scarred, burned, or frozen. Maybe she was still there anyhow, in the asteroid belt in Kurniainen. If the pirate hadn't taken what was left of her for God only knew what.

It never got easier.

She'd been podded before. She had woken up in this very room countless times in her earlier days of flying, having gone through the process a dozen or so times before.

Even so.

She died.

Died.

Her mind worked quickly to process the fact.

The last images burned across her memory. An asteroid belt, she'd been engaged with a Sansha when the pirate warped in on her. The belt was a difficult one, hard to navigate in. Her corp mate had lost his ship moments earlier in the dense mass of rocks though had managed to get his pod out safely.

She'd stayed behind, trying to get the last Sansha...and that's when it happened. A pirate in a dramiel had warped right in on top of her. She couldn't get out of his range, couldn't get away because she became stuck in the dense debris.

She watched in horror as her pod was caught. Destroyed.

And then everything was dark and cold.

Moments later she was waking up, as if she'd merely been asleep.

The rush of memories overwhelmed her and for the briefest of moments, her mind protested.

Some small part of her wanted to reject the sudden onslaught of an entire life filling her mind, her thoughts.

It wasn't her, was it?

She gripped the sides of the cloning vat tightly, her knuckles white, as she was forced to relive the moments of her life in lightning fast flashes.

She was five, running through the palatial corridors of her family estate, naive and happy. She was was seven and her mother was dying by the hands of her father and brothers. She was thirteen when she learned the family secret, when they brought her into the horrific world of blooding.

Macabre images of slaves being tortured, drained. Sacrificed, delivered unto God.

Blood on her hands, streaming down her pale arms.

Hadrien guiding her, teaching her.

Tears dripped from the corners of her eyes.

Other memories continued to play across her thoughts, imprinting in the back of her mind. Her first kiss. The first time she had fallen in love. The first time she had flown through space. Her first battle.

Emotions overwhelmed her as she remembered, trying to make sense of it all.

"Commodore?"

She focused her stormy blue gaze on him, trying to place him in the set of memories she'd just been delivered.

"Yes....Joshua...?" she asked in an uncertain tone. "You're...the pod technician...?"

He nodded with a smile, "Good. It's all coming back to you? Do you feel like you can stand?" he stretched his hand out for her.

"I...I think so." She laid her hand against his, dripping with ambiotic fluid. "You're the first person I've ever touched..."

He quirked a brow as he pulled her from the vat, helping her to her feet, "I'm sorry...?" He smiled an apology as he draped a towel around her.

"No...was just musing on it. I remember touching other people...but I really haven't, have I? I've been here this whole time." She glanced to the clone vat.

"Strange, isn't it?" he responded as he helped her over to the showers. "Are you sure you're feeling alright...you seem different this time," he said with a hint of concern.

"I feel different. I feel...I don't feel like her."

"Her?"

"Me. I'm sorry." She shook her head as a look of confusion swept across her delicate face. "Me. I meant me."

He nodded as he helped her into the shower stall. "Sometimes it takes a while to fully integrate. I'm sure you'll be fine."

"Joshua?"

"Yes Commodore?"

"Do you think...do you think I had a soul. Before you woke me up, I mean. Do you think...for those few fleeting moments, before I became Shalee...do you think I was someone else?"

He gave her a quizzical look. "That, Commodore, is for the Theological Council to decide. But the general opinion of the masses is that no, you're nothing more than a 'meatbag' before you're awakened."

"Oh.... I see. I just can't help but feel like ...something isn't right. That I'm not living the right life."

"How do you mean?"

She shook her head, "I don't know...I guess I'll figure it out."

He waited for her to shower then lead her to the medical bay, readying her for the implants and hardwire that would render her a better combat pilot.

She stretched out on the med table and closed her eyes as memories continued to seep into her consciousness.

"Joshua? Do you think I am a bad person?" Tears seeped from the corners of her closed lids.

"Bad? Not at all. You fight for the glory of the Empire. How can someone who does all the things you do be bad?"

"You don't know everything I've done."

He smiled down at her as he positioned the light above her head, "Certainly not. But God does."

He tilted her head and pushed her hair out of the way as he sloshed an antiseptic across the base of her skull. "Is there something bothering you...?" he asked, uncertain if he should breach the bounds of their professional relationship.

"I just feel...that I am spinning out of control."

He rubbed his thumb against her temple, trying to soothe away the stress, "Relax. The download isn't perfect 100% of the time. You'll feel a little disoriented but things will straighten out soon. You need to relax and let everything sort itself out."

He injected several doses of medicine into the bottom of her neck, just below her hair line, one to numb the area, another to put her to sleep so that he could insert her implants. "Everything will be fine soon enough, Commodore."

"If only it were that simple," she mumbled as she drifted off to sleep, loosing control of her thoughts as she started to dream.

A holodrone activated and the image of a small girl with long red ringlet curls projected, hovering just beside his arm.

Joshua noticed the movement from the corner of his eye and jerked, knocking over a small table full of implants and medical devices.

"What the.." he caught himself before her cursed. He stared at the giggling child, "Who...what...are you..."

The girl gave a dimpled smile, "Don't you know?"

He quickly darted his hand through her, "I don't believe in ghosts..." he said in amazement, "..but no child should be able to access the holographic equipment in here..."

She giggled again as she glanced over to Shalee sleeping. "She forgot to tell you. She wants the snakes implants this time...she likes to go fast."

Joshua took an unconscious step backwards as shock slid across his face. He grabbed hold of the counter to steady himself.

"...Shalee?" he stared at the little holographic girl. "But how?"

She held her tiny finger to her lips, giggling. "Shhh. It's a secret."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Entry Ninety Seven: Bloody Retribution

Aldrith Shutaq, CEO of the Merciful Crown, stepped slowly out from the double-doors inside the Keep, his expression mute and his eyes flowing over the sword on the table in front of him. He stretched his hand out for it, fingers running over the surface of the scabbard slowly. The sword had been a wedding gift from Lyn Farrel.

Math'ra Hiede, noticing Aldrith, stood and made his way towards him. Hitome Kei, his fiance, joined his side. "It's a beautiful sword..."

The double doors swung open again as Shalee and Verone stepped out into the main hall. Earlier, Literia had came to the Keep upset about a friend of hers being kidnapped and tortured by the man who was stalking her. Helpless, Shalee tried to call Vincent, the man Literia had been dating, but couldn't reach him. Not knowing who else to turn to, she called Ethan Verone, Vincent's CEO and best friend. He had no idea where Vincent was but said he'd come. Once he arrived, Shalee had immediately taken him out of the main hall for fear that his mere presence would cause a scene. After all, he was the most notorious pirate in all of New Eden. She'd taken him up to the turret and explained the situation.

He promised to help find Vincent and said he'd check into the matter. Satisfied with his answer, she lead him back into the Hall, hoping to usher him out quickly before anyone realized he'd been there.

Aldrith froze for a long moment, his hands about to close around the sheath until he heard Shalee enter behind him. He turned slowly to face her.

Hitome looked to Shalee, then to Verone with a look of panic.

Verone merely grinned, tilting his head to Shutaq with a nod as he towered behind Shalee.

Aldrith stared directly at Shalee, completely void of emotion. Math'ra Hiede tensed notably at Verone's appearance, his hands lowered towards his hips subconsciously.

Shalee nodded to Aldirth as if completely unaware of the building tension in the room. "Hello again." She smiled, then stepped over to Literia, kneeling down to whisper to her, "He is going to talk to Vincent, they will take care of it."

Esna Pitoojee looked up and murmured softly, "Uh-oh..."

"Get back here," Aldrith said in a low, strained voice.

Shalee stood and turned to face Aldrith, her expression hesitant. "...alright."

Morwen Lagann, another VETO member and frequent visitor at the Keep nudged Literia gently and whispered to her quietly. "Now would probably be a good time to leave."

Literia looked up at Shalee nervously, then to Morwen.

"I just meant away from the commotion, that's all. We don't have to go far," Morwen said to Literia.

"Evening Shutaq. You're looking well." Verone kept his intense blue gaze focused on Aldrith.

"Address me again and I'll kill you," Aldrith said to Verone, then turned to keep his eyes on Shalee, his voice icy cold. "Shalee, what is he doing here?"

Math'ra Hiede walked to stand beside Aldrith, devoid of emotion but his stance still more than a little ready.

Shalee turned quickly, chilled by Aldrith's tone, "I called him here. I was looking for Vincent...theres been a problem...." She stared at him, brows furrowed. "...he could help."

Verone cracked a slight grin, chuckling softly as he regarded the Ni-kunni's weapon. He held up his hands for a second or so and tilted his head with a smile.

"Yes... now would probably be a very good time to go," Esna Pitojee said as he neared the group.

"He is going to leave. Right now. Do you understand me?" Aldrith commanded.

Shalee slanted her blue gaze to Verone, eyes wide, face pale, "....perhaps you should go."

"So hostile, Aldrith. And to think I was beginning to believe we'd surpassed all this nonsense," Verone said with the hint of a smile.

"Verone, I think it may be best you not be here." Matty, another guest at the Keep said as he neared the group.

Verone shrugged with a smirk to Shalee, "I was going to have a drink, perhaps catch up with Aldrith if he wanted. I guess he's not looking to speak, though."

Aldrith snapped. He jerked the sheathed sword in a blur and moved with the force and speed of his implants to smash it against the side of Verone's head. Verone, caught off guard by the sudden movement, staggered as the the end of the sword struck at his temple with a dull thud. His head snapped to the side. Blood drenched the open wound and poured down the side of his face. He lifted a hand and cupped it against his marred flesh as he tried to regain his balance.

Esna Pitoojee leapt forward, a little too late to stop him. "Aldrith, NO!"

Screams erupted from Hitome and Literia. Morwen turned her head, eyes shut.

Matty rushed to Verone's side, "Aldrith was that neccesary?" He held out an arm to steady Verone. "I think you should be leaving know. Let me help you out."

"Remember all the times at the Gate when we were afforded saftey despite.. the... oh God..." Hitome tried to reason in a frantic voice with Aldrith as she reached for Verone's other arm.

Verone shook his head slowly, a slight smile creasing his face as the right side of his skintight white shirt flooded with crimson from the shoulder down.

Shalee froze for a moment as she watched the blood dripping down Verone's face, her breath gone. Fear slid down her spine, paralyzed with it. "What the fuck is WRONG with you!" she screamed out at Aldrith as she neared Verone as well, putting herself in between the two.

Aldrith held the sword over his head, his left hand reaching for the scabbard in a slow, graceful motion. His eyes were cold, colored with pure hate. He spoke in an inhuman voice as he unsheathed the sword, "Out."

Hitome, Matty and Morwen crowded Verone.

"Get him out, and save yourselves the trouble." Mathra warned.

"Aldrith, this doesn't fucking solve anything! Put it away!" Morwen exclaimed.

"Get out of the fucking way, Lagann," Verone uttered as he pushed his way through the people, dripping blood across the floor.

"Aldrith, Morwen is right this is not the place for this." Matty said.

"Please no.. not here. And not now," Hitome begged.

Shalee moved after Verone, "Let me help you." Her face paled even more, "Please, let me get you out of here."

Aldrith Shutaq slowly moved the blade so that it pointed at Verone's throat. "Why should I not kill him?"

"Because you wold regret it later, like you did last time. I won't stop you but you know why not Aldrith." Math'ra answered.

"Because he did not kill you. This solves nothing." Hitome replied.

Verone tensed his jaw, moving it in a slow arc to free it up. He smiled to Aldrith, lifting his chin slightly, letting the tip of the blade touch his skin, "Shutaq... I came here with no hostile intent... I came here to help that young brutor girl over there." he nodded his head towards Literia.

"Good deed for the day, Ethan? Yes. I should let you go for that." Aldrith uttered, keeping a steady hand on the blade.

Literia neared Aldrith and Verone begging frantically, "Because he came here to help me, you want to take a head tonight....take mine"

Matty intervened, "Aldrith, if he must be punished then let the courts decide his fate."

Esna Pitoojee laid his hand on Aldrith's arm and started to slowly apply pressure, trying to push the blade down and away from Verone's throat to little avail.

"Verone, are you really that stupid?" Math'ra asked.

Verone looked down to the blade slightly, casting his eyes to Math'ra, "I'm a capsuleer, Hiede... death is an inconvenience."

"Yeah, but uncommon for capsuleers to be bone cold stupid about it." Math'ra countered.

Shalee reached for Verone's arm, whispering in a small voice, her pale fingers drenching in his blood. "Please let me take you out of here."

Verone smiled to Shutaq warmly, "I came here to prevent this young woman from being hurt. If you want to stop me doing that, then feel free."

Aldrith's hand shook though didn't budge, "I remember a Brutor girl I tried to help... "

"But I guarantee, Aldrith, you know what will happen to you... again... if you draw more blood with that blade. I have as many lives as I need to come back for you."

"I don't fear you, Verone. God judges me, along with myself. You haven't the right. You never did."

"If you beat me with your hands, I'll come back with a knife... beat me with that... I'll come back with a gun... and if you beat me again, you better make sure you kill me good and dead, because I'll keep coming." He stared coldly at Aldrith. "Again, and again, and again... because I'm fucking stupid, and I don't care."

Math'ra spoke, "What would it serve you, we are all capsuleers. Your pettiness belittles you. Grow up old man, and get the fuck over yourself."

Aldrith shook the sword threateningly. "Fuck off. Out of my home."

"Aldrith please let go of the sword. There is no need for any more blood to be shed here," Matty exclaimed.

Verone looked to Math'ra with a smile, before nodding to Aldrith. "I see your little puppy has a bark... you might want to put him away, before he gets bitten." Verone spat a little to his side, a slight amount of the blood from his cheek and temple reaching his lips and mouth.

Literia whispered to Morwen with tears streaming down her face "It's because me he is here, I dont want anymore blood tonight."

Math'ra shrugged, "I bite and bark, I also take care of my fucking family Verone, as you fucking understand. Get out."

Verone tsked, "Is there any need for the language?"

"More than likely." Math'ra responded.

"Goddammit I want you to leave! You're dying, please lets leave." Shalee's voice was laced with hysteria. She tried to pull at his arm again, "Please."

Hitome looked to the blood on the blade, "I remember once pleading to this man for your life to be spared which it was... seems now.. I need to beg you Aldrith for that same gift. What will it be? You getting even by causing him torment and pain like you were given? Please no more... end it now a stalemate. Be the bigger man... the one with honor."

Verone looked to Aldrith with a smile, "Shutaq... you need to understand, that until you drew blood again... I was done with you... an eye for an eye, after what happened to Ama. I didn't come here to fight with you. I came here to help."

"You haven't the capability to help. All you touch is corrupted or killed." Aldrith said.

Verone glanced down at his shirt with a smirk, the whole right side flooded with crimson, "You're wrong, Aldrith. You have blinders on, my friend."

"You have no friends. There is only you in your little world. Now take your stolen children and 'help' them elsewhere."

Verone grinned to him a little as he took a step away from the blade. He leaned down to kiss the tip of it with a smile to Aldrith, "I'll leave you in peace now, Aldrith. It was nice to see you again." He turned to Math'ra, lifting his bloodied right hand, and grinning to him, as he gave him a wet and viscous pat on the cheek, soaking his face in blood, "I'll see you soon, too."

"Fuck off."

Verone gave a sideways glance to Shutaq, chuckling as he headed for the exit, still dripping a trail of scarlet along the floor. He shook his head slowly as he gathered his pistol from security, taking a glance back to the Ni-kunni with a smirk before heading out into the snow.

Hitome cast a horrrified look to Shalee.

Aldrith Shutaq lowered the weapon once Verone had left. He stood there eerily still, the color drained from his face, his gaze cast towards the floor. He planted the tip of the sword in the stone at his feet, leaning heavily on it as his entire body began to shake, his breathing heavy. "Why do you test me so, Lord...?" He grimaced in anguish for a moment, then stood straight upright again, sheathing the sword with a violent growl.

The crowd dissipated somewhat, leaving Aldrith, Shalee, and Esna by the table.

Shalee looked to Aldrith slowly, barely moving. Her face pale, splattered with Verone's blood. She stared at him unblinking, "What...what the fuck is wrong with you?" she said through clinched teeth, trembling from near hysteria.

Aldrith looked to her as if she were an idiot.

"You, Aldrith, are a complete and utter idiot sometimes. You know that?" Esna said.

"You could have killed him," she choked out the words.

"But I did not. What did you, and he, expect, exactly?"

"You to be merciful, perhaps?" Esna answered.

"Since evidently you are so content to defend him now. After what you told me, even." Aldrith said, his gaze lingering on Shalee.

She flinched.

Aldrith gave Esna a look. "I was not merciful? Dear me, where ever did I go wrong?"

"But I know what you've done..." she whispered in a small cold voice, her eyes hot and angry. Accusing.

"And I know what you did. Shall I say? I made a mistake. You did quite a bit worse, I remember you telling me."

She felt as if he had knocked the breath out of her. "That has nothing to do with this."

"We are in the same boat, Shalee. Every day since what I did I have tried my utmost to better myself, to make up for it. To have the strength and wisdom to never repeat it. I was weak today, fine, I admit it."

Math'ra returned, hair damp and slicked back, face cleaned of the blood. "You're all as bad as little children, Shalee, your lapse of judgement was pretty fucking severe just now, go think about that. Aldrith, we know, shut it."

Hitome looked up at Math'ra with a bewildred expression, standing there as if uncertain what to say or do.

Aldrith shook his head, his weak eyes wandering away from from Shalee. "I should pray. Shouldn't I?"

"Damned if I know Aldrith, if I even believed God cared, I would say yes, but sometimes I doubt it." Math'ra said.

"I believe this was your hardest test ever Aldrith.. right and wrong was done by each of us.. and it happens as we are .. not perfect. I don't think you walked in the greatest of wisdom tonight, but then again who did?" Hitome responded.

Aldrith closed his eyes, swaying a bit where he stood. "I am nothing still."

Shalee lifted her hands to her cheeks, swiping away tears that dripped from the corners of her eyes, smearing blood across her face.

Hitome looked down at her hands covered in blood and wiped them on her dress, "You are noble in the end.. and merciful. It was not a blade used but a stilll sheathed sword..."

"Your plenty more than nothing brother, we all have our own issues." Math'ra said.

Shalee yelled at Hitome in an hysterical voice, "No! He wasn't merciful! He was a fucking lunatic!"

"Shalee is correct." Aldrith said, looking away.

"I say you where damn merciful, but my standards arn't exactly what you would call comparable." Math'ra said.

Shalee kept her gaze glued on Aldrith, "I can't believe you did this...I know you've always harbored some sort of hatred for me but....gods. How could you nearly kill him..."

Math'ra shook his head, muttering underneath his breath at Shalee.

"How did this have anything to do with you? You told me you despised the man not long ago. Seems your opinions have changed so quickly?" Aldrith asked.

"I asked him to come here to help Literia! To do something we could not do."

"How tactless."

"I asked him here. I can't believe you...the goddamn universe doesn't revolve around you!"

He gave her a helpless shrug, "No, it doesn't."

"Nor you Shalee." Math'ra retorted.

"Shut the fuck up Hiede I'm not TALKING to you."

"Is this or is this NOT my home too?" She yelled at Aldrith.

"Yes, it is."

"You have everyone you want come here. Everything is on your terms. I can't do this. I have to get out of here."

Aldrith's eyes begin to wander. "You're free to do as you wish."

"I hate you," she said in a very low voice as she turned, heading for the door, storming out into the dark snowy night.

"...and feel as you wish." He dropped down into his seat at the head table with a heavy sigh. "Carry on, everyone," he said as he looked out at the Hall wearily.

Hitome sighed and looked around. Blood pooled on the floor and was splattered all over her. Tears pooled in her eyes as she whispered to no one in particular, "I hoped this day would never come...."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Entry Ninety Six: Storming Kourmonen

Five days ago:

Everything was a blur.

She blinked several times, trying to clear her vision as the tech took hold of her arm, helping her up from the metal grating.

Slick from pod fluid, she slipped from his grasp and stumbled as her knees gave out.

"Whoa, Commodore. Careful," he said as he grabbed her again, steadying her.

"I'm fine, I just need a moment.."

He nodded, "I'm sure you are." He checked her vitals and gave another nod, "Everything seems to be fine." He flashed a pin point of light across her face, "Just a little sensitivity. Should fade soon."

She gave him a cross look, sounding more agitated than she normally would have, "I know."

He merely smirked, "Yes, Commodore."

Shalee tugged out of his hands, "I'm fine," she said with more bravado than she actually felt, walking over to the showers.

Her heart was racing as she stepped beneath the water, beating to the fading sounds of war that still lingered in her mind.

She could hear his voice ringing through the explosions.

"Focus fire!"

The final battle played over and over, like a holo reel. Hordes of warships engulfed the Auga star gate in Kourmonen as Amarr Militia met with Minmatar.

Battleships lined the field. Squads of support vessels filled in the gaps.

For a few tensed seconds, the comms were eerily silent as the entire fleet awaited orders.

"Launch drones." Predator Elite ordered then called the primaries. Scrams and webs were activated. Guns were overheated as drones flooded the battlefield.

Veterans of war rained down a torrent of fire power, pounding into the Minmatar fleet. Explosions erupted, littering the dark blue sky with a thousand pieces of debris. Drones swarmed. New primaries were called.

Predator went down and another FC took his place. Pilots from both sides exploded and podded out, only return minutes later to take up the fight. Predator regained control of his fleet and the battle raged on.

Shalee lost SotR Sanguine, her very first battleship, an Armageddon that had seen countless battles, to the traitorous Dolmant's Revelation.

"If you go down, reship. Fast." Predator ordered.

She became vaguely aware of her old Praetorian comrades as she rejoined the fight in a Harbinger that she'd fitted up in between the previous battles a few hours earlier. Admiral Archbishop, Captain Laerise, Captain Veshta Yoshida, Guardian Stavenhorst, and Guardian Ultra Power flashed on her overview as she eased back into the thick of battle.

Her harbinger went down and she came back in the last battlecruiser she had fitted, an old warhorse Prophecy that had seen fighting all the way back to her earlier days of PIE.

"Reship, reship, reship. We will hold the field, we will not retreat!"

She was down to an Omen by the time she made it back out.

Both sides were watering down as hangars began to empty out. Lost drones, fiery wrecks, and a haze of smoke rolled across the space between the two opposing armies.

Water streamed down her face in rivulets as she turned in the shower, eyes closed, remembering.

Capital ships. Pirates in the midst. It was a hellish fight, spanning for over an hour.

Dim neon blue light illuminated her long limbs, stiff from being in the pod so long. Six battles in all, one right after the other. In the course of the night she lost five battlecruisers, one battleship, and a slicer, not that she cared in the least.

Losing ships was a causality of war.

She finally forced the battle from her mind, trying to clear her thoughts and calm the bloodlust that was coursing through her. All she wanted was to be back out there, back in the pod, back on the field.

She blamed Predator. She'd never truly experienced the thrill of war until she'd flown under him. She had felt war was a necessary evil, one that she participated in though never really desired.

It was a reluctant duty, until him.

He had single-handedly pushed her to the limits and beyond, turning her from a timid, uncertain pilot to one that craved the heat of battle.

It had become an obsession. The next fleet. The next battle. The next kill.

He had pushed her, tested her will and resolve. He had used her as bait, as scout, and damage. Whatever he asked of her, she'd do. Blindly, without question. She had never given her loyalty to someone as she had him, at least in the pod.

She mused on the irony of it. He was so many things to her, a voice over comms, a ship in space beside her, a name on her overview. A commander to whom she would die for without hesitation...and yet she'd never seen him in the flesh.

She'd seen his photo on the DED and had a vague idea of what the Caldarian looked like, but other than that, he wasn't real to her.

More god-like than man.

Her strict Amarrian upbringing cringed at the sacrilegious thoughts, but the other side of her, this new side he had unknowingly cultivated reveled in the fact.

Once she was dressed, she made a tour of her hangar, taking note of what she had and what she needed. Her vivid blue gaze scanned the length of it, sighing over the emptiness. Bestowers, a slew of Predator's shuttles, and a random coercer or two.

She trailed her fingers through her damp hair as she readied a shuttle to Amarr, determined to restock a portion of her hangar before morning.

She gave a weary glance to the empty space before heading out.

It's going to be a long night...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Entry Ninety Five: Ambushed


Garst Tyrell watched her leave the Last Gate, staring from the shadows, eyes like a predator, muscles bundled and ready for action.

He waited, biding his time. Patiently. Purposefully.

And then he saw her.

He stalked her for blocks until she had almost made it to the hangars, knowing her guard was down.

He closed the distance quietly, his enhanced implants turning night into day, he hunted Shalee's heat signature, watching the heat of her blood circulate.

She walked along, unaware, humming to herself.

His lip curled as he watched. The sway of her hips, tipsy from the drinks he'd watched her finish. Disgusting. She'd pay for her weakness.

He made his move, stepping out of an abandoned office as Shalee walked past, the workers long gone from their shift. He had studied their work patterns. He had chosen his ambush site carefuly.

He wrapped one calloused hand around her mouth, another around her waist, naturally strong muscles augmented by subtle genetherapy, literally picking her up and pulling her out of site before she was even missed. He locked the door behind him, purring her name. "Shaleeeeee."

He held her to him and ran his tongue down the back of her neck before pushing her away, disgusted by the smell of alcohol on her body.

She spun around, disoriented, terrified. "What do you want..."

He worked his neck slowly in a circle, stretching it, sliding his left palm over his closely shaven, nearly bald head as he spoke, "You're drunk." He glared at her as he crossed his arms.

She took a step back until she was flush with the door, leaning against it, slipping a hand behind her back to find the lock, "What's it to you what I do?" she spat the words at him.

Garst stepped forward and slapped her hard across the face, knocking it sideways and leaving a small red mark on her cheek. It would bruise later. He knew she would thank him for the pain later.

"Drunk Bitch! No more questions, your inquisitive inflection pains my ears. I deal in facts. I deal in statements. You will do the same if you expect to leave here in one piece."

"What do you want, Garst.." Her tone was hinted with hysteria. "Since when does it matter to you that I drink....you drink..."

He clampped his right hand around her mouth vertically, forcing her mouth shut and pulling her slightly towards him. "My god woman you act like you don't have two perfectly crafted ears! You haven't earned the right to address me yet. You will call me Mr. Tyrell."

She gave a short nod of her head, eyes now wide with terror.

"Good." Satisfied, he dropped his smothering hand and patted her head. "Good Girl. Let's start over. I fear you lost your compsure there and I want to give you a chance to redo our meeting tonight."

She jerked her head, nodding, afraid to actually say anything.

He took a deep breath. "You always were very trying to be around. But that's the past and for Capsuleers like us only the future matters."

She continued to stare at him, staying perfectly still, saying nothing, doing nothing that might set him off.

"I watched you at the bar tonight. You act like a harlot. You flirt with every man in sight. You drink until you stumble home. I'm surprised you didn't fall over and pass out in a gutter, no matter how poetic that would be."

He continued his speech. "You neglect your duty to the Empire. You chase kills and ignore your agent, your controllers. You are not the Shalee I once know. Respond."

She opened her mouth but words failed her. She gasped a little sound as she looked around helplessly as if searching for some means of escape. When she found none, she looked back to him, "What? I wasn't flirting with anyone I was having a bit of fun and I'm not drunk, I only had a bit of wine. Gods...since when do you care about my duties to the Empire?"

He fought back his frustration, "Save your lies, I saw you with Verone. I saw you disappear. Did you go with him into his private quarters? I know his reputation and I know you. It's time to stop deluding yourself. You need help but you direct your questions outward instead of looking into your own self. This is not acceptable."

"Fuck...are you really accusing me of sleeping with Verone? Gods, that's disgusting. He is engaged to be married. His fiance was there! I am engaged too, dammit!"

He shook his head. "I can't stand to think of what you do with your 'personal life'. But I'm here for you now. I'm here to put you back on the straight and narrow, to help you find purpose in your life again."

"Help me...?" she whispered incredulously.

"Yes, you need help. You've been decandent and metaphorically fat."

"You want to help me be a better Imperial....?"

He traced her curvy figure with his eyes. "Yes. And No."

"Then what...?"

"I don't give two shits about the Empress or her Empire. I'm a wanted man. The Empire is no home for me anymore, no sanctuary. Can't you see how much I've risked in coming here tonight to find you? I've had do unpleasant things to pleasant people to get passed the Unified biometric idents, and those acts are just more things you must atone for if you are to be whole again. I did them on your behalf, they are your sins."

She stared at him.

"What I want. ...what you will want is to become the Shalee you once were, the Shalee I loved, not this bitch that stands before me, pathetic and debased." He crossed his arms again and averted his eyes, as if barely wanting to look at her.

"...and how precisely do you think I'll become the Shalee you once thought I was?"

"Adversity. You are complacent. You are soft. You will purify yourself." He walked behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders gently, carassing her soft skin.

She nodded, agreeing with him, afraid to anger him. He was too close to her and she knew exactly what he was capable of. "I see..." She tried not to wince as he touched her, "How will I purify myself...?"

He closed his eyes and let his head fallback, savoring his next words. "You will go on a Crusade."

"A crusade of the soul. You are lost. I see the seeds of corruption in your heart. I see the seeds of hate in you. I...wasn't strong enough to do anything about it before."

" ...crusade? What do you mean?"

Infuriated, he closed his arm around her neck, slightly choking her while whispering against her ear, "Shut up woman. Verbosity thy name is Shalee. Woman you hear but you do not listen."

She gasped, going eerily still, tensed, her breathing ragged.

"I admit it. I wasn't strong enough to help you. I've been reborn on the fringe, Shalee and now it is finally time I find the inner strength of will to help you remake yourself, to find your true self and experience a rebirth of your own." He whispered, savoring her uneven breathing before untensing his arm. "You need a crusade of the soul. And you will do this or I will destroy you. I will kill you. I will burn you to ashes. I will destroy you so completely that not even a single corrupt atom from your existence will taint this world. No clones, no do-overs, you will overcome or you will die. And it breaks my heart that it has come to this."

He released her and stepped back, his expression softening for a moment.

She nodded her head as if agreeing with him. Tears trickled down her cheeks untouched, too terrified to move.

"Listen to me, and you must not just hear, listen to me."

His face flashed a mixture of heartbreak and fury at the sight of her self-pitying tears.

In a very small voice she asked, "...what do I have to do?"

"I've canceled your clone contracts. I've killed you. If you die it is final. You are mortal. Don't bother trying to work your away around it. I will only take that as a sign of your irredeemable corruption and murder everything youve touched." He promised.

Her mouth fell open.

"Yes you are no longer a Goddess, you are dust. Worthless. But I see your inner worth, your inner beauty. Perhaps I was the only one who ever could. You will overcome." He smiled cruelly, "I can see you're outraged. You should be. Hate is a strong emotion. I want you to hate me Shalee. I want you to loathe me. I want you to use that hate to focus on yourself."

"You've cancelled my clone contract? You have no right to do that." She started to tremble, "Don't worry I do hate you, more than I've hated anyone in my whole life."

He sneered, "You are so weak. So trapped in misconceptions about the way the universe works. There is no right and wrong, there is only survival. But you will learn."

She swiped her fingers across her face, wiping away the tears. "You're insane." She started for the door, "I want you to stay AWAY from me," she yelled, exploding into a furious rage.

He crossed the room with gene enhanced speed and pushed the door closed with the palm of his hand, preventing her from leaving. His left hand grabbed her soft underdarm and spun her around to face him, the strap of her dress fell off her shoulder, drooping onto her arm.

Her breath caught in the back of her throat as she glared up at him, "You can let me go or kill me now, but I'm not staying here!" she screamed at him, shoving at him with her free arm.

"I want you to think about what you just said. "Kill me now." Did you consider the importance of those words? Do you really understand what youre saying?"

She shoved at his chest again, "Let. Me. Go."

He fought through her anger, a bastion of resigned calm. He gently grabbed the strap of her dress and slid it back onto her shoulder, intentionally brushing her breast with the back of his hand as he spoke, "You are free to go. You are free to die. If you want to live, if you want to become something greater than you have ever become when we speak next you will be more composed and hate me. You are sacred, I understand that, but I am here for you Shalee."

She jerked free from his grasp, "Don't you ever touch me again."

"I've sent for a transport. It's waiting for you in your hanger. It will take you home and you will think of what we discussed here tonight. I'm sure you have a lot to process. We will speak soon. Now go. Crawl from my sight. Next time I see you, we will see if we cannot teach you to walk."

He grabbed her again as she fumbled for the door, yanking her to him, covering her mouth with a wet kiss, biting down gently on her lips before pushing her away. "Now get out of my sight."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Entry Ninety Four: The Danger Zone


Perched on a crate in her personal hangar in Huola, she watched with curiosity as her 'chief techie', as she called him, stood there scratching the back of his neck, wearing a look of utter annoyance.

"Well? Any reason my lights go green?" she asked him as she gave a glance over to her favorite frigate, the slicer.

"Not a damn clue. It shouldn't be happening. There's no reason for it to be happening. Every diagnostics we've run comes out clean. We've even replaced them....so. Yeah. I've asked around, this isn't happening to no other slicers but yours."

She wrinkled up her nose, "I could understand if it were just the one slicer...but most everyone I've flown has flickered green. Various shades. Golds, too." She shrugged.

"Yeah. I don't get it either. I'll try to figure it out," he vowed as he gave her a loose salute before heading out of the hangar.

She stared at the SotR Temptation, her Imperial Navy Slicer, debating on podding up and making a break for it. She'd just heard over intel comms that the station she lived in was being camped by various pirate scum with fast locking tackle.

Not that she was overly worried, she'd played this cat-and-mouse game plenty of times before and rarely had she ever been caught. Not in a slicer, anyhow.

Leaning back on her elbows, she absently started to bite on her dogtags while her blue gaze scanned across the tatical information trailing across the opposite wall. The pale, neon green information flashed out a myriad of data at once. Which systems were contested, which were close to being vunerable, and a host of other information regarding possible enemy fleet movements. Currently Huola was a hotbed for every upstart pirate wannabe along with a hodgepodge of other more established groups like Star Fraction and VETO. Sabotage had jokingly named Huola the Danger Zone after watching several of the exit star gates become infested with the new riff raft that was plaguing the system.

To the right of the display, the screen flashed with an up-to-date data spread of which pilots were currently in the system.

A familiar name caught her eye.

Garst Tyrell.

In Huola?

She uttered a string of curses as a mixture of fear and anger slid through her.

Perhaps, she thought, perhaps it was just a coincidence. He had once lived in the Bleaks so it was possible that he was just here picking up something. Perhaps he wouldn't even notice her.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

Her comm unit blinked with an incoming text message. She cringed as she read Garst's name...

"Why hello there Shalee, I just happened to be in the neighborhood. I think, and I'm quite concerned about this, that I may have killed a couple of your friends. I'm having the corpses sent to your hanger so you can identify them, along with some of their personal belongings (gifts, don't say I never gave you any! You'll have to wash off the blood yourself though I'm pressed for time). And...if it indeed turns out that they weren't your friends, well...I'll just have to do better next time. I hear you're close to a certain Matari... mendori, mintori, ah yes "Mintor" and he would appear to be actively using the local networks. Hmm...well that settles it. There's blood in the water and it'd be against my nature for a shark like me to ignore it. Back to the hunt love, I'll have more corpses for you before I leave. That I promise. "

She deleted the message and sat up straight, barking out orders to her crew to ready her slicer. She needed to get the hell out of there, and fast.

Moments later, she had left system without a word to anyone, making her way towards Arzad. Around the Labapi solar system, both Sabotage and Eran commed her at once, wondering where she had gotten off to. She explained that she was picking up some contract work from Concord, that there were reports of the usual Sansha terrorists hiding out in the asteroid belts of Arzad and she needed the security status that would come from shooting them down.

They had met up with her in Arzad, cleared all the belts and secured the system before making their way over to Saidusairos and Kurniainen to meet up with some of her militia mates, Anbeerlin and Plaid Rabbit.

During the night, Garst had passed through her local though she tried to ignore the fact. After another hour, he was there again and she could no longer ignore him. She opened up comms with him.

"Leave Eran out of this."

"Like you left me out of your life? No, Mintor proved he was without honor earlier during our 'duel' and his blood is now mine to claim. "

"Since when do you care about honor?"

"Combat is my religion. The duel is it's most holy rite, pitting ones strength against another to prove who is better and more importantly who's left...to defile that...that...that is heresy, something you claim to know very intimately Mrs. Crusader. Don't get in my way if you value your other friend's lives."

Realizing it was pointless to respond, she killed the connection with a sigh of frustration and an eerie sense of déjà vu...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Entry Ninety Three: VETO Games

"What? VETO out here?" Predator said over comms as the fleet were warping into an Amarrian Military Complex in Sosan.

Moments earlier intel had come in about a possible small Minmatar fleet roaming through the backwater systems.

"VETO...? Fuck," she muttered under her breath as she eased out of warp along side her squad.

Drake, Hurricane, Ferox, and Harbinger flashed on her overview. All VETO.

Primaries were called and targets were locked. One by one the militia cleared the field.

"Goddamned pirates," she muttered under her breath again, after the battle had subsided and wrecks were being looted.

The main fleet broke away from Commodore Invelious's boys as they stayed behind to guard the plex.

Later, after the patrol had ended she had went home to Amarr Prime for the first time in days. She'd been avoiding the Keep, Eran, and Aldrith who would no doubt give her a disapproving look, if not lecture, over a few unwise kills involving EvE Uni in the belts of Amammake.

Not like it was her fault for following FC's orders. Anyhow, neut's should be careful about playing baiting games in the glory belt. That's just asking for a fight. At least that's how she tried to justify it.

It was a messy situation. Someone had given the orders to go GCC, though it had not been Pred. Enough of her fleet flashed as criminals around her that she had no choice but to engage as well. Not like she'd ever leave a fleet mate in battle, despite the circumstances.

As she tiptoed through the Great Hall of the Keep, she glanced around to find the place empty. It was a quiet night, most everyone was probably already asleep.

She made her way upstairs to her 'turret', a part of the Keep that towered above the main building. She had fallen in love with it instantly when the Knighthood had first moved in and had claimed the space as her own. Eventually Eran had moved in with her, though at the moment he was gone. Probably still out in null sec.

With a sigh, she stripped off her militia uniform and left it on the floor by the old styled canopied bed. She filled the tub, an ancient thing with clawed feet that sat on a dias near the fireplace and slid into the hot sudsy water with a glass of wine.

In the dim light, she could barely make out the snowflakes that fell beyond the windows that wrapped around the upper part of the turret.

One glass of wine followed another though it did little to calm the adrenaline that coursed through her veins still. She stared absently at the fireplace as she replayed the battles over and over in her mind. She could still hear Pokechan333 teasing her, calling her Princess. She'd unofficially adopted it as her call sign a few nights ago while they were roaming through Minmatar space.

Musing on the VETO battle again, she remotely activated a drone and replayed the footage right there above her tub. She stared up, watching the holographic images from the very beginning of their warp in. It was spectacular to watch from this angle, to be aware of everyone else outside of the rush it all. During those heated moments she could only think of the primaries and focus on what she had to do.

She couldn't imagine the skill it must take to be a logistics pilot. Her blue gaze drifted to Paladin Crusader Zoarial's scimitar as it repped her harbinger.

As the final explosion lit above her, the communications holo-drone chimed with an incoming transmission.

The camera adjusted as the holo of Invelious appeared. He cleared his throat, "How goes it tonight Miss Lianne?"

"Good evening Invelious." She made certain the camera drone focused on her face only. "Oh, just winding down. How are you?"

"Parked myself in the Transtellar in Aset. The minnies have been pushing on my watch over Aset the past couple of mornings. I need to secure the area and assess the level of their strength in the coming hours. I have a wonderful fit I want to share with you, perhaps it may provide a longer life space for your next slicer..." he smiled. "It's good for probing out the Minmatar complexs also. COP EMP. With aurora you get over 50km range. Check the kill records for the night, this vessel and its crew has served me well."

"Thank you, I'll be certain to try it out." She took a long drink from the glass, her hand covered with bubbles.

Invel quickly downed a shot and poured another while asking, "What plans does KotMC have two nights from now? I only ask because I will be launching a fleet, hoping for as much Confido support as possible during our timezone."

"The usual really. But if you want me there I'll be certain to be there," she smiled.

"You and your corp, whom ever can help."

"I'll be sure to pass the word along."

"Wonderful." He did the shot and poured another.

"Alright..." She watched as he did yet another shot, wondering what was bothering him so. "I will do everything I can to be there, of course."

"Thank you..." He hesitated, "Ummm..."

"Hmm?"

"We butchered a bunch of Veto vessels today ... I'm hoping this wont affect your negotiations with Verone..."

She rolled her eyes. "Negotiations? There are no negotiations with Verone. He is a pirate, VETO can burn for all I care." How the hell did he know?!

His eyes widen as another drink rolled down this throat.

"Anyhow, I have to go, talk to you tomorrow?" She never gave him a chance to respond as she killed the connection.

God dammit! How in New Eden did Invelious know she approached Verone about standings. He promised he'd dropped the intel on her, but apparently not. Obviously she was still under his surveillance. But why?

She closed her eyes and held her breath as she slid beneath the water, her thoughts drifting.

And what the hell were VETO doing in their war zone anyhow? Had Verone sent them there purposely? Was it some kind of message to her?

A frown tugged at the corners of her mouth as she came back up, gasping for breath. She couldn't quite shake it off, the feeling of betrayal from both Invelious and Verone.

The conversation she had with Ethan just days ago ran through her mind. How could she have misjudged him so?


****

"I think we got off to somewhat of a negative, if not humerous start, don't you?"

She looked at him for a moment then nodded, "Doesn't really change anything if we 'start over'. You're still a pirate who makes his fortune off of stealing from others and I'm still an Amarrian who flies with the miltia."

Verone smirked, "Oh, I'm not suggesting that sweetie. Not at all. Merely making an obervation."

Her nose wrinkled as he smirked. "Don't call me sweetie."

He chuckled quietly, glancing down to her, "You know, you're a lot like the young lady you just argued with, in the respect that you pre-judge people before you speak with them, before you even know them. And before you're even aware of everything they actually do. We're not too different you and I. Sure, we share some polar opposite political views, but we're working toward the same thing."

She settled down onto the bench beside him, "I don't think I've pre-judged you. You admitted that it was 'just business'." She dropped her hands into her lap, curling her fingers around one another. "But tell me, how are we not different?"

He lifted a hand and tugged an apple from the tree above them, "You judge me, and you claim that all I do is destroy, kill, maim, murder. Yet, you're unaware of our corporate history... what we do, why we were founded."

"So tell me."

Smiling, he said, "It's an old word.... 'Veto'. It predated even some of the modern uses of language in the cluster. Do you know what it means, in its raw definition?"

"I dont think so."

"An emphatic prohibition, a stand against that which one does not believe in. The Excercise of the right to disagree, and prohibit an action. In short, it's literal meaning is "I forbid". We were formed four and a half years ago, as an anti CONCORD Assembly corporation, when our founding members got sick and tired of the DED and CONCORD turning a blind eye to the mistreatment and abuse of those Matari held under the boot of the Empire. We started out very small, ten capsuleers and a few hundred thousand support staff. Nothing really, in the grand scheme of things. We've grown over time, and as such, our need for resources has done so also. I've always hated slavery, Shalee... and if you take a walk through any of our corporate facilities, you'll see that almost 80 percent of our workforce, crew, station side staff, are former slaves. People liberated, who now earn a good salary, have a roof over their head, and the ability to learn new skills and better themselves without the fear of being beaten for seeking too much knowledge. They enjoy the finest medical care, and health care in the cluster, and have all the facilitiles they ever need. The best part of all? If they want to leave, they're free to do so. The truth is, they rarely do. We've been pulling slaves from the Empire for almost five years now, that's where our similarities come into play. I despise the slave trade, it boils my blood. It makes me want to tear those apart who fund and run it."

She nodded her head, listening. "All of that is very noble." She hesitated, "I hate slave trade too, you know I do."

"Yeah, I know you do." He smiled to her, "The fact of the matter is that it's too widespread to attack head on, even for a corporation with our wealth behind it." He held up the apple to her, "When you look at this apple what do you see?"

"Fruit."

He chuckled, "You know what I see? Skin... the surface. I know what's beneath, because I've eaten an apple before, but I see skin right now." He bit into it, smiling as he chewed and swallowed, "The thinnest skin in the cluster, rough, hard, glossy on the outside. That's all people see, but beneath, there's so much more. That's what we do, Shalee. The front that people see, is just that... our way of raising funds, putting together the equipment, the ships, the manpower needed to pull as many matari as we can from inside the Empire's borders."

"I see...but don't you attack the Matari as well?"

"We attack anyone, Shalee, that's just the way it is. Our rules are simple... it stays in space. The ships we attack are crewed by people who accept the risks of being in space." He sighed deeply, "So, that's what we do."

"So why wouldn't you help me?"

"I can help you... with the passage of slaves. I can do more than assist you. I have hundreds of contacts in the Republic, and in various republic loyal capsuleer organisations, to whom I ferry slaves to be released. I even have a number inside federal borders, although I'm watched far more closely by the FIO, given my history with the Navy."

"And why would you help me now? After all I've said to you. Knowing who I fly for..."

He rested his forehead in his huge hand, "Because I don't care about Shutaq. He's dead to me. He used to be a friend, I trusted him. That's why I can't give standings. But, I can help. I can help you... and those you work with under Shutaq, and keep these people safe... help give them hope."

"Aldrith doesn't know what I do. Only a select few are actually involved."

He nodded to her with a soft smile, "I know... Shalee."

She frowned, "You know too much, dammit."

"...and if I'd been given the chance to explain, before you exploded when we first spoke... I would have told you... and tried to help. As it was... what you said, it just angered me. And that's why I gave you the response you didn't want to hear." He sighed, "But you came back. I sent the gun, you responded. I mailed, you responded. I took seat away from you at the bar, you responded. All a test that tells me you're committed, despite how much you despise me."

"You think I despise you?"

He smirked a little, "Probably, the media paints me as a psychopathic ogre... and people accuse me of burning children alive." He nodded the apple on the ground, "Just like that.... just like you... like everyone... I have a skin. An exterior that I use to my advantage."

"You and the media. I'm beginning to think you're obsessed with it. And yes. I do despise you. I despise the fact that for all of your noble deeds, you still take from people. I despise the fact that you have hordes of people falling at your feet as if you're some kind of God to New Eden because you are simply doing the right thing involving the Sansha. And I despise..."

He nodded, with a smile, "Every isk I take... I give back to those who need it, eventually."

"Don't. Don't paint yourself as some modern day fairy tale hero, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. I'm over those foolish romantic ideals."

He smirked as he shook his head, "I'm not doing that at all...I know that what I do is wrong... we try to keep casualties to a minimum. God damn, we try hard."

"And for the love of God stop smirking at me. It raises my blood pressure."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Entry Ninety Two: The Might of Amarr

A cacophony of voices ran through her mind at once; Militia, intel, corp, and a dozen of other comm channels that she frequently monitored while in pod.

Disoriented, she absently grabbed at the pod tech as he disengaged the last neural link, silencing the voices. She flushed with embarrassment and whispered "Sorry" as she dropped her hand from his shoulder.

"No problem Commodore."

She pulled away from him and trudged over to the shower units, leaving a trail of pod goo behind her. She stepped beneath the cool water and closed her eyes, chin tilted up to let it splash against her face.

"Did you see me bump it?"

Sabotage, Legatus Commodore of the Amarr militia and her corp mate, stood a few feet from her, showering in the next stall. She opened one eye as she turned her head, looking at the Caldarian from the shoulders up, "The Naglfar? Hell yes I did. That was amazing." She threaded her fingers through her thick, clumped up hair. "Really, I can't believe we got that lucky. What an idiot."

Earlier in their patrol, a Minmatar pilot who flew under the call sign RUNVS undocked a dreadnought outside of the Republic Fleet Assembly Plant in Auga, commonly known as 'Auga 3rd'. He was sighted by Predator Elite, who happened upon him during a routine scouting expedition of the system.

Pred had called in the fleet though no one really thought it would be possible to force the dreadnaught pilot away from the station.

It hadn't stopped them from trying.

And in this case, trying meant succeeding.

She rarely found beauty in destruction, but as she watched the Naglfar meet a fiery death and rip apart into a thousand pieces, she couldn't help but be awed and humbled. It wasn't just the explosion itself, but what it represented. It was the might of the Amarr militia manifested. The sheer will and determination of countless men and women who gave their all to defend Amarrian sovereignty.

Her thoughts drifted to Pred again. She had nearly flown exclusively under him these past few weeks as he lead the Amarrian militia into countless battles and victories. The Minmatar media liked to paint him as a blob-warfare commander, which was untrue. It wasn't his fault that he could inspire so many to follow him. A call-for-fleet from him could fill countless squads in the matter of minutes. How could he be faulted for that? He was a natural born leader and it was evident to those who flew under him. She would never pass up an opportunity to fly for him.

The pendulum of war favored the Amarr currently with the rise of such commanders as Predator Elite and ZeroRespect in the Amarrian militia and the loss of Generals Eran Mintor and Sassawong from the Minmatar. Heimatar was burning, and soon Amarr would claim every last system and the war would be over. It couldn't come quick enough for her. A dreamy smile stretched across her mouth as she thought about life after the war... settling down, having children, the whole bit.

She closed her eyes again and stood there, letting the water flow over her as she tried to relax and 'find' herself. It'd always taken her a little bit longer than everyone else to fully disengage from the pod and find her senses once again. It was easier for others to simply disconnect and go about their way, but for her it was harder, more stressful. Often time she'd come out with nosebleeds, hallucinations, or just an overall feeling of disorientation.

"Guess what?" she said, breaking out of her reverie.

"What?"

"Number eight on the kill boards."

He smirked to her, "Did you really just use that tone with me? I'm number six!"

She laughed, "Yes I know you're number six, but I was just saying. Number eight. Better watch your back..."

He laughed.

"I'll probably drop off of it soon anyhow. The morning shift just undocked." Even with the use of stims and boosters, she'd never have the stamina or skill to make it to the top and hold the position.

The gal-net played somewhere in the background near one of the tech stations. Eran's familiar voice caught her attention.

"You're a bigot. The Minmatar militia may be unjust, but it is not a "terrorist" organization. It's full of fighters no different than the 24th IC; just as many pirates and "terrorists" thrive behind the 24thIC banner as do Minmatar. You're a fool because you do not accept the terms when they are offered; if the Minmatar offered to end this war, would you refuse out of arrogance? Should I come back and take another nine of your systems? You don't seem to have learned anything..."

She paled as she grabbed a towel from the stall wall that seperated her and Sabotage. Hastily wrapping it around her, she stumbled over to the holo-projection, splattering water everywhere. She was hoping that she had misheard it. Maybe it was someone else, another Brutor who sounded like Eran. Surely he wouldn't humiliate her like this in front of all of New Eden.

"Please, do an instant replay," she asked the tech who looked at her oddly.

She felt dizzy as he replayed the segment. Nauseated. Utterly sick. "Oh god." Finding a seat, she held her hand to her head, dripping water all over the place. "Replay anything involving Eran Mintor," she commanded in a steady tone that hid how miserable she felt in that moment. Blood dripped from her nose, "And get me a towel."

"You're a fool. You cannot act on your own, so why even announce such a thing as a "Confido" if you are inept to serve your people? Amarrians deserve more, yet you give them nothing but words. Such a shame...you will wait by as the Empire stands around with their thumbs up their ass, like they're going to give you any direction, and hope that they tell you what to do? Good luck; Amarrians would be better off joining the Sansha than waiting for your weak attempt to protect them fail miserably."

She leaned her head against the wall, shivering on the bench in nothing more than a towel, listening to the recorded segments of Eran Mintor, the man who had recently proposed to her, a man who had once been a General in the Minmatar Militia until she seduced him to the Amarrian side.

He barely made it two months before leaving for null sec. She could handle his leaving, at least he wasn't fighting against her people, or flying as her enemy out on the battlefield.

...but now he was threatening to pick up his old fight?

Sabotage stepped over to her after a few moments, standing there awkwardly, "So uh, Pred just announced that he's going back out, apparently he wants to go suicide his scorpion over in Amamake..." he tempted, hoping the possibility of a fight would distract her.

"Nah, it's okay. I ...I shouldn't be flying, I'm exhausted. I think I'll head out for a drink somewhere before heading back to the Keep."

"Yeah, it's late, I think I'll call it a night too."

She nodded to him as she stood up, held tilted back with the cloth against her nose.

"Same time tomorrow?"

"You betcha."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Entery Ninety One: Spies and Betrayals

Exhaustion etched her delicate face. Tired eyes stared at the holoprojection in the small viewing room inside of the Keep.

She sat in the darkness, replaying several battles she had been in recently, intently watching her harbinger as it plunged into the thick of war.

Every few minutes her thoughts would drift to the spectacle on the IGS involving Jade, Revan, Eran, and Sophie. Usually she'd ignore anything involving the infamous Star Faction mouthpiece and her lover, but it was too difficult to not pay attention to the things Eran was sprouting off.

...my short time in the Amarr militia was to support their efforts in regaining this territory I had taken un-righteously. The Amarrians have pushed into Minamtar space since, something I do not approve of, and I have withdrawn my support of their operations in Minmatar space.

Aldrith told her she should be proud of him, a man following his convictions, much like he had when he left PIE to start the Knighthood.

She pointed out that Aldrith hadn't left to join another corporation where he'd be flying with his ex-lover. He pointed out that he'd once been in love with Hitome and now they flew together. But to her it was different. Mitara was in the Amarrian militia. They all fought for the same goals. Hitome wasn't in love with him now. It was vastly different to her.

It bothered her to know that he was dismissive of the Amarr and what she was trying to achieve, as if his goals and dreams for their future were more important, more right than what she was trying to do.

A bright explosion snapped her out of her reverie and she stared at the tatical footage, once more watching as lasers pounded into an enemy hull. Predator Elite's voice rang out through the room, barking orders to the fleet.

She adjusted the camera angle to watch the rest of the fleet. Bire, Anbeerlin, Bern Blackwood, and Stavenhorst eased out of warp and landed into the heart of it.

Drones were launched and the scene became a free-for-all. The battle raged, explosions erupted, and pods were warping, the lucky ones, anyhow.

Her pulse quickened as she watched and some instinctive part of her longed to be in her pod in that moment, out on the field.

Sighing, she turned the projection off and sat there in the darkness with Predator's voice ringing through her mind still. She thought about how strange it was that she followed him into countless battles and trusted him implicitly thought she'd never even met him face-to-face. Other names from the militia flickered through her mind, men and women she flew with almost daily though she'd never actually met.

She qued up another battle to study while she lit a cigarette, needing to calm her nerves and quieten her mind. The battle reports were serving to distract her from what happened the previous night.

Almost, anyhow.

She couldn't quite shake it off.

She'd went to the PVBOS Interstellargrill out in nullsec, wanting to get away from the warfront and everyone she knew, needing a place to just be annonymous. Have a drink. Talk to a stranger who didn't care about politics or the war.

How utterly wrong she'd been to think she'd find it at the Grill.

As soon as she walked in, she ran into her old friend Eliza, who flies under the call sign Dame Death. As they sat talking, Vlad Cetes came up behind her and joined in the conversation.

She'd met someone by the name of DibbleBill, who seemed rather interesting.

The evening seemed to be going well, until some random girl introduced herself. Shalee gave her name and by habit, her rank in the Amarr Militia.

The girl snapped and threatened to kill her.

At first Shalee ignored it, but the girl wouldn't drop it.

Shalee invited her to undock, promising she'd meet her in space to shut her mouth up, though naturally Alowas would have none of that, instead, the girl got up in her face, trying to punch her.

Ethan Verone, who just happened to show up, got in the middle and seperated the two.

She almost forgot about it til today, when something about the girl's name nagged at the back of her mind. She went to her files and did a search, only to find that Alowas had been in the Minmatar Militia.

Nothing unusual about that, except that she had been contacted by Alowas months back and was fed information about the location of the Minmatar fleets.

Trusting her instinct, she passed along the information to BattleStarCrusader, who had been forming a fleet to capture a vunerable Minmatar system.

The intel had been brilliant, and the reason the operation was a success.

She'd never revealed the source of her intel, though no one never really questioned her about it either.

After a while she had all but forgotten about it.

Exhaling a mouthful of smoke, she forced herself to concentrate on the battle footage once more, shoving thoughts of Alowas and the PVBOS Grill from her mind, promising she'd deal with that intriguing little situation later.