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."
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.
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."
"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...."