(Two days ago..)
Evening sunlight illuminated her lithe form as she stood with both hands cupped around the hilt of a custom built, .50 semi-auto pistol.
The light caught on the embedded gems that formed the KOTMC logo and splashed a prism of color across her face. She squinched her eyes and turned, quickly taking aim at a target across the snow covered field.
Sound exploded as she unloaded fourteen rounds of armour piercing into a makeshift dummy that she'd nicknamed Zenton the Bastard.
As she reloaded the clip, a sound behind her caught her attention. She turned swiftly with the gun aimed steadily.
"Goddammit, don't sneak up on me like that," Shalee snapped.
"S-sorry," Brystal studdered.
"It's alright. So what's up?" Shalee asked as she lowered the gun.
"We've another war dec."
"Oh? So what are we up to now, five?" She rolled her eyes, "So who have we pissed off now?"
"They call themselves Templars. The previous corp of our newest recruits."
"Oh. A Caldari Militia corp war deccing us? That's interesting. Any idea why?" Shalee asked.
"I haven't found out yet, just got word, thought I'd come tell you."
Shalee nodded. "Thanks. I'll speak with the recruits later, see if I can figure out what is going on."
Brystal hesitated, looking as if she wanted to say something. Shalee stared at her, waiting for her to leave. When she did not, she sighed, "What? You want to say something, so say it," she said with an impatient tone.
The blonde Gallente dropped her gaze and clasped her slender fingers together. A moment of silence hung between them as she gathered up her courage, "...some of the pilots are worried."
"There have been some rumors...about Aldrith missing. Some are saying that maybe VETO has something to do with his disappearance. That you must know something about it because you've suddenly barred VETO pilots on the premise."
"Oh for fucks sake. I did that because one of the VETO pilots almost killed Math'ra Hiede outside our front doors. Once I have word from Verone that it has been handled, then I'll lift the ban. But not until then," Shalee said.
Brystal nodded, "Perhaps you should issue some kind of statement to the corporation."
"I will. Any other gossip I should be aware of?"
"Non...well..." Brystal hesitated again, hating to be the bearer of bad news. "Raphael has stopped logging flight hours and...well."
"Let me guess. That is my fault too? I assure you that if Raphael cannot find the time or dedication to serve the Empire that is no fault of my own. I am not responsible for him."
"I know." Brystal shrugged demurely. "I just thought you'd like to know."
Shalee turned, waiting to hear Brystal's waning footsteps crunching in the snow before taking aim at the makeshift dummy, renaming it Raphael the Jerk as she unloaded her frustration in the form of fourteen precise rounds into the target's crotch.
She reloaded and fired again as the conversation with Raphael ran through her mind...
"I want to know what I am to you. Why, when I'm the one who's hurt you the least, I'm treated the worst." Raphael asked, standing in front of her in the Keep's cathedral, arms crossed.
"You're not treated 'the worst'. But you want things I cannot give right now."
"When can you?"
She eyed him curiously. "You want me to give you some time that I can commit? It's not going to happen like that, I don't know if I ever can commit to anyone anymore."
His face flashed with fury, "I didn't do a goddamn thing to you! I walked out of that cabin because you greeted my return with news of your sleeping at Zentons. And you...." he shook his head, almost speechless, "you put it on the same level as Eran's aiding the enemy's efforts against you and Zenton's destruction of your property. What is wrong with you!?"
"I do not. But things have changed..." She whispered with frustration.
"Yes, things have changed. You have no sense of gravity or responsibility any more. I don't even know who the fuck you are anymore," he accused.
She widened her eyes, her temper elevating, matching his own. "The fuck I don't have a sense of responsibility? I have been busting my ass keeping this corp together while fighting this war!How dare you say such a thing. How dare you."
"And look what's happened! Reds prancing about our very headquarters, ex-milita members hunting our Knights. A very fine job you've done!"
She glared at him. "The rules of the Keep have been set by our CEO, that is not my doing, and how dare you blame me for Zenton war deccing us!"
"Don't give me that shit, Shalee. I know you share his views of who should be alllowed in. Hell, he wanted fewer reds in there than you did! What about Muskells? He left under your supervision and now hunts us the very same."
"You don't know anything at all. I'm the one who has tightened the security here. God, you're pathetic, and if you really believe I'm doing such a poor job then leave."
"And now you're making a goddamn mockery of yourself for the entire cluster to see!" He said, showing her his datapad of her recent words on the IGS.
She rolled her eyes.
"That's exactly the response I expected from you. You used to have some self respect, and people could respect you. Now you've just made yourself a goddamn sideshow for all to enjoy."
Her face flushed with hot anger as she looked away, "Go to hell."
"Is there no part of the woman I fell in love with left in there?"
"Stop living in the past, Raphael."
"The past is the only place where you're not a goddamn joke anymore."
She stared at the stained glass window across the room. "If that's what you really think of me....then I don't know why you are even here."
"I came here because I thought I could get you back, thought I could stop you from going down this road you're travelling. When Eran betrayed you, he betrayed you, I thought that was my chance. But like an idiot you went running back to him. You let him back in, and now taunt me with his very presence. I didn't do anything close to what he or Zenton did, yet I'm the one being trampled into the dirt. You told me you loved me, but I mistakenly believed that it was the kind of love you used to have for me, and not the love you have for your favorite pair of shoes. I'm tired of the way you've treated me, the way you're treating me now, and you're non-answers and lies. I did nothing, nothing, to deserve what you've done to me."
She tilted her chin up defenisvely as her eyes watered, though she did not cry. "How dare you speak to me like this," she said in a very low voice. "You are so god damned selfish, I can't believe you are even saying such a thing to me, after all I have given to this Empire. To this war. To this corp. To you. I gave myself to you and you fucked it up and I can't let it go. Yes I love you but I've said all along that I'm NOT going to be involved in another relationship. Not exclusively, not with you."
"The only thing I fucked up was coming back. I should've known then that you were goddamn insane. And now you lend yourself out to whoever catches your fancy, making public offers for sexual liasons. The woman I fell for is dead. Gone. And you are still in a relationship. I can't go 2 jumps without hearing you called "Eran's woman." But go, you two deserve each other. He betrayed everyone and you betrayed me. The two traitors, together forever."
She shoved past him and stormed toward the exit, yelling as she pushed the doors open, "You're a goddamned bastard." She looked over her shoulder at him, "You don't have the slightest fucking clue about anything."
The door slammed behind her.