She sat, staring at two small girls. One with long red ringlet curls, the other with honey blonde straight hair and sparkling blue eyes.
They stared back at her, unblinking.
"Who are you?" she asked, her voice sounding very far away, alien even to herself.
The smallest suddenly grinned, her dimples popping, her face animated with light. Angelic, almost.
"Oh god...am I dead?" Shalee looked around frantically as fear coursed through her. To be dead was to be judged by God. To finally pay the price for her sins.
"No. You are not dead. You are...sleeping. Sort of. You're unconscious." The red headed answered.
"I see..." she said in a very calm voice, her fear fading just a bit. "Wait. No, I don't. Where am I? Who are you?"
"We are you." The red headed answered her again while the blonde merely stared at her.
"Parts of you, anyhow. Raphael calls me Red."
"Raphael knows you?" Shalee asked.
"Of course. Everyone knows me. I visit them sometimes." Red puckered up her small mouth, lips pursed, expression stubborn. "I have to, because you wont."
"I don't understand..."
"I know." She said cryptically. "Cause I know everything about you." She tapped her fingertip to her temple. "I am here, remember?"
"I'm losing my mind, obviously." Shalee said as she glanced around the white room. A vast expanse of white, the corners thin streams of pale light.
"Not really. You're just afraid. You don't tell people what you really think or feel. You're always keeping secrets from everyone, afraid that if they know the truth they will hurt you. Like Hadrien did. But everyone isn't like him. You hide...so I come out. I try to fix things for you."
"Well obviously you're not doing too good of a job." She countered, thinking about all the fucked up things in her life.
Red sighed rather dramatically, "You do make things awfully hard, you know."
Shalee looked from Red to the blonde girl. "And who is she exactly?"
"You were her."
"Yeah. Before you were Shalee. Before you were born. Long time ago, you were her. She tried to show you stuff but you kept ignoring her and finally she stopped....but now she's back."
Shalee's face flashed with skepticism. "Look. I don't believe in any of that nonsense, reincarnation or whatever. I'm no Intaki." Shalee said matter of factly, almost as if she were lecturing the girl.
Red grinned mischievously, "No, but you were. And anyhow, doesn't matter if you believe. Doesn't take your belief in stars or planets or spaceships to make them so does it? They simply exist."
Shalee looked between Red and the blonde again. "Alright. So if I was her, what is she doing here now?"
Red shrugged, "I don't know. She doesn't really talk and she hardly ever comes around anymore. I try to find her sometimes but it's like...." She looked thoughtful for a moment, "Like she's hiding behind something. And I can't really reach her."
"But she's here now." Shalee said, pointing to the blonde child.
"Yes, well, sort of. None of us are really here. It's like a dream, sort of. And anyhow, I'm only here because I can't get out..."
"What does that mean?"
"When you sleep I can go anywhere really. All the holoworlds. And I can use the holodrones and go to the real world too. Anywhere I want. I talk to all kinds of people, especially in the Keep. But....now I'm stuck. I can't get out. I think something happened. Or maybe it's because you're not really asleep, but unconscious. You're partially aware of what is happening out there, I think."
"In the jungle."
"Try to remember. You're on Eytjangard. They invaded the camp as you were trying to leave. You almost died." Red frowned deeply, her tiny little face a picture of sorrow. "Reslye saved you."
Shalee nodded slowly as it started to come back to her. "I remember...it was raining. And I had a ship malfunction and...oh gods. Chase? He was coming back for me and they shot him out of the sky...."
Red widened her eyes. "He will live again, you needn't worry about him, he is a capsuleer. It's poor Reslye that you should mourn. She died trying to save you. She took the bullet that was meant for you. Then Darg picked you up cause you got hit with some debris as something exploded. Blood was everywhere, but you were alive and he picked you up and carried you. He stopped somewhere and wrapped your bleeding head with lots of bandages and now he is still running with you...but they are chasing."
Shalee paled, "Now?"
Red nodded, "Right now. He is running through the jungle with you...listen." She slanted her gaze as if looking elsewhere, "Can't you hear them? The guns? Listen. People are still dying." The little girl started to cry, "They keep shooting them. The ones that they can't sell. The very old and sick...they're all going to die!" she sobbed.
Shalee looked over Red's shoulder, staring at the white wall, as if hypnotized. A light appeared, a tiny pinpoint of yellow light. It started to spread, taking the shape of a moon. The dark sky surrounding it bled across the white wall. Stars twinkled against the sky, pieces of asteroids shimmered. Closer, leaves took shape, tangled vines, and plumes of smoke. She inhaled, smelling a mixture of blood, smoke, and sweat. A cacophony of sound assaulted her at once; gunfire, screams, and a steady rhythmic thumping. A heartbeat. Darg's heartbeat?
Her blue gaze met his as she looked up at him. "Commodore?" He said breathlessly. Sweat dripped down his face. She shivered, feeling cold and faint despite the humid jungle breeze.
Before she could respond, the room went white again. She looked to Red, "You need to do whatever it is that you do and go get help."
"I'm trying. I'm working on it, anyhow. But you're gonna have to go all the way asleep, I think. Or something. Maybe you hit your head too hard, maybe I'll never be able to leave again..."
Shalee tried to console the child, "We are going to be fine." She didn't really believe it.
Red pouted, "You shouldn't lie, I know when you're lying."
Shalee folded her arms across her chest. "This is fracked up," she muttered. "Talking to you. Who is me. Or was me." She shook her head, on the verge of hysteria.
Red stood up. "I saw something. Just before you were hit....in the camp. There were some people. Not BT's, not refugees either. And they weren't from the Amity Project, not the volunteers."
"Who were they?"
Red shrugged, "I don't know...but they were watching you. They have been watching you, I think. You just weren't paying attention."
"I was exhausted." She'd been living off stims to keep her going.
"Did they look like Imperial Agents?"
The little girl shrugged, "I don't know, I couldn't tell really. They were just...out of place."
Shalee didn't know whether to be relieved or more afraid. Was it someone to help her or someone to harm her?
"When I fall asleep, I need you to tell someone...." But who? She couldn't involve anyone in the Amarr Empire. She could get in trouble, be branded a traitor to the Empire. Though she had pirate friends, could she really count on them to help? They might try to save her but they'd leave the rest to perish, or perhaps try to sell the people themselves. Anything for ISK. That left the enemy. Which Minmatar could she trust to intervene? Who would help and not sell her out in the process?"
"Mister Yida? He knows you help the slaves." Red said practically, "And he wouldn't want to hurt you."
"That will work...if you can reach him. We don't have very much time. Contact ...anyone from the Minmatar, anyone who is in local. We will just have to risk it."
Red nodded, "Alright. I can do that...but what if I can't get out?"
Shalee shook her head, "Then I don't know...."
(Eytjangard Blues part two, companion piece)