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...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Entry 138: The Grandest Ruse of All

Eighteen hours ago...

"Eran! I can't warp. I'm going down!"

"Get your pod out okay?"

"I'm trying! Something's wrong! It's not letting me-"

Comms fell silent as the Kourmonen sky blazed with the sudden explosion of her Omen, an Amarrian cruiser classed vessel.

Earlier, after finishing a long patrol, she had docked up in Kourm intending to shuttle it back to Houla. The system was relatively quiet with only a handful of militia members assistating the Navy inside one of the military complexes. She and Eran had decided to offer support and after the plex was secured they remained inside, practicing a few dog-fighting maneuvers.

Unaware that the enemy militia had entered system and scanned them down, they were caught off guard as eight Minmatar pilots landed right on top of them.

There would be no escape.

Paralyzed, she was only cognizant of the next few seconds. Pieces of her mangled ship engulfed her capsuel, flames burned along bits of metal and electronics that floated around her pod.

Her tomb, a fiery pyre in the blackness of space.

Realization of imminent death seized her thoughts, and all she could do was offer up a silent prayer before they shredded her pod.

Ambiotic fluid sizzled as it sprayed into the flames, her lifeless body suspended in the wreckage.

***

Pain throbbed at her temples as she shifted restlessly on the bed. She could hear whispering, soft voices nearby though she couldn't quite make out what they were saying.

Something nagged at the edge of her subconsciousness. Keon's voice. Her eldest brother. She felt his hand along her cheek as he soothed her, "Shhhh. You need your rest."

Her body releaxed at the familiar voice and seconds later she was lost to dreams once more.

"She's asleep again."

"Good." said her middle brother, Jacobi Cerra. "She looks the same, I think. All except the hair."

"She did that more than a month ago," replied Keon.

"She always was impulsive."

"And foolish. Just like her Ni Kunni Mother."

"So how did you manage it?" Jacobi asked.

"Paid off the right people. They were almost ready the last time she was podded, had it been another few hours and we would have had her then. Fortunately she was podded again a mere eight days later."

"Quite brilliant, brother. So our dear little sis is going to wake up and have absolutely no memory of her life as a capsuleer?"

"Not exactly. It was explained to me as 'rifting'. The part of her mind that allowed her to learn flying and whatever else she used in space is still there, it's just melded with a soft-clone scan of when she was with us."

Jacobi nodded, "But how do you expect her to return to her normal life? Wont they suspect when she hasn't a clue who they are?"

Keon shook his head, "Once she is awake, we explain everything to her..." His mouth twisted deviously. "Remember, she loved us at one time and her loyalty was to us, not them." He stroked her hair from her face, "And now it will be so again."

"Can't we just keep her here? Why do you insist on sending her back into that world? She is safe with us."

"She is the best instrument of revenge we have at our disposal." He said matter-of-factly.

Jacobi nodded reluctantly, "I suppose you're right, brother." He folded his arms and looked to the sleeping girl, "I just hope she can pull it off."

"You remember how I told you she started visiting me as a hologram? Of when she was a child?"

He nodded.

"Apparently she has done that with many others, but here is the interesting part. Only when she was asleep. She had no control over the hologram, no control over her subconscious." Keon smirked, "That little girl, the one they call 'Red', is going to help her."

"I'm afraid I'm not following..."

"Before, Red was essentially her, a part of her mind that manipulated her implants that allowed her to access the holodrones and holographic realms. But now, Red will be the AI I had inserted into her mind."

"So Red is gone?"

The eldest brother nodded, turning his gaze to Shalee as she slept. "Her implants allowed her to become Red, to interact with everyone as the hologram. Essentially we've silenced Red, and instead have given her an AI. Others will think the AI is Red."

Jacobi gave a thoughtful nod, "And what about her? Will she think she is part of some conspiracy?" He said as his gaze shifted to the window, absently noticing a handful of pod techs passing down the corridor. "How will you explain the last two years to her?"

"I've decided to tell her that Father sent her to the Academy and that it was his desire for her to become a capsuleer, to gain the favor of the Amarr militia and all the right people, that she was a plant for the Sani Sabik, and that when the time was right, she would fulfill his wishes."

A haughty smirk stretched across Jacobi's lips, "Very clever. So anything that anyone tries to tell her now, she will think is either a lie or part of the grand ruse she's been involved in this whole time."

Keon chuckled, "Precisely. She's a smart girl, she will play the part thinking she had been all along."

"Aren't you afraid she will just make all the same mistakes again? Falling in love with heathens, betraying the Empire by freeing slaves, etc."

Keon shook his head no, "She ran away. All of those choices she made on her own. This time she will have us."

Jacobi stroked a finger along her ankle, "And this time she will never leave us."

Shalee murmured in her sleep.

"Looks like she is waking up again. Shall we?" Keon said as he dropped a hand to her shoulder, shaking her very lightly.

"Shalee dear...time to wake up. We have so much to tell you...."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Entry 137: Dubious Intel

"Okay. You have my attention," she said as she glanced around the room, her gaze skimming across the network terminal.

Earlier, she'd been sent a mysterious message from someone within the VETO corporation, and letting her curiosity override her common sense, she responded.

He said he had a message, one to be delivered in person. In between patrols, she decided to fly over to Goinard just to see what the message was. A part of her was reluctant, thinking it was some kind of prank, but as she was lead deep within the secure perimeter of VETO's headquarters, she quickly realized it was for real.

As she was lead into the heavily fortified armoured security room, she felt a moment of unease. Video monitoring equipment lined the walls. Thousands of network lights flickered, fluid router cables shimmered around the room as data transferred between various data banks. The airlock door sealed behind her, leaving her alone with a young Brutor.

Drem Haklar pulled his headphones from his head as the door sealed behind her. He straightened up, setting his feet on the floor as he grinned, "Ah, I was right. You did change your hair color. I thought so. It was a while ago, no?" He spoke with a heavy Venal accent, flashing her a white smile between pierced dark lips.

She nodded, "Yeah, I changed it. And you are who exactly? And what do you have to give me?" she asked skeptically as she rested her hands on her hips.

He watched her curiously as he stood, gesturing to the seat at the other side of his desk, "Have a seat. My name's Drem. Drem Haklar. I uh... well. Probably should explain this place and what I do first. I'm the Secure Comms officer for our corporation. Our boss likes to keep a solid network of Intelligence. You're stood right at the beating heart of Veto Corp right now. This is our mainframe control room. The equipment you see around you is our main frame's communications layer. We're hacked into pretty much every fluid router network you can think of here, watching, listening, and recording."

"I see." she glanced around the room again as she took a seat at his desk, her nose wrinkling, "So you're spying....got it."

"So, my boss wants to do business, but wants to keep distance, as do you, from the mails I've intercepted and monitored. He's asked me to offer you our eyes and ears, for anything you might need."

She frowned, "You're reading my mail? That is private!"

"I read every one's mail, with my boss's authorisation. For instance, I know there's a few Angel Cartel loyalists who've been tryng to figure a way to infiltrate us for months, but their CEO is too much of an idiot to get to grips with it. I know about a certain Gallente clone who was visiting you, about a certain Cartel Loyalist who's fucking his sister."

She sighed a soft little sound, "So he just lets you read my mail!" she threw her hands up in the air, obviously frustrated with the situation, not really caring about the Angel Cartels.

Drem shrugged his heavy shoulder and smiled, "Nothing leaves this room, I'm paid a lot of money to ensure that. That's why the walls are so thick. This place has a suppression field, and ten metre thick walls, with one of the best electronic firewalls available. It's quite secure in here, the two weakest links ironically are you, and me."

"Wait. So why would he offer me intel? Whats the point?"

"He's extending an olive branch to see if you take it. It's a common practice. If business ties can be healed, then it's a start."


***

Kathetel frowned as the video went blank. "You were gone for twenty eight hours and this is what you come back with? A two minute video?"

"It's all you need to know."

He looked skeptic, "That one of the most powerful crime lords in low sec is offering to share intel with you." He laughed a sound of disbelief. "A loyalist. A known Amarrian loyalist. Why would he lift a finger to help the Empire?"

She made air quotes, "An olive branch." She said with a shrug.

"I thought you two weren't friends any more."

"We aren't."

"This seems pretty friendly to me."

"Ethan has his quirks. Maybe it will amuse him, hell if I know."

"And what do you have to give him in return? Your intel?"

"No. Not that I have any yet anyhow, I haven't even formed the group, though I have a couple of people in mind for it. I don't have to share anything with him. I wont even see him, only Drem. He'd be my handler."

"It's too generous." He frowned in puzzlement.

"So you're saying it's a bad idea?"

"Not necessarily," he conceded, "Having someone who can operate outside of Empire law is not a bad thing. It's just odd."

She shrugged. "I told him I wanted no part of VETO, but he was more than welcome to come work for me."

"And why would he do that? You don't have the resources and ISK that VETO allows him."

"Well, he didn't accept it exactly. Yet, anyhow."

"But what makes you think he will..." Kathetel laughed, "Ah. He has a thing for you?"

"Something like that."

"Romantic," He said with a laugh, "No doubt he has been watching you? Were you his assignment?"

"For two years..."

"This should get interesting. I bet he thinks he's in love with you."

She rolled her eyes.

"So whats with the bandages?" he nodded towards her wrist.

"Nothing."

"You can tell me now or I'll get it out of Red later. Your choice."

She frowned, "It's complicated."

"Isn't everything?" His smile widened.

"Drem and I got into a fight of sorts...he told me some things and thought I'd tell Ethan. He thought Ethan would kill him so...he was going to beat him to it. Right in front of me."

Kathetel quirked his brow, "He tried to kill himself and make you watch? But that doesn't explain your bandages..."

"I was stuck in the securest room in New Eden with no way to get help. Only he could open the doors...so I tried to force him to."

He clicked his tongue, "I see. So you hurt yourself to force him to open the doors to call for medics, using his affection for you against him."

She nodded, "Yeah, something like that. And it worked too. He survived. I woke up in VETO infirm the next day, the nano's healed most of it. So yeah. It worked out."

"I take it Ethan didn't kill him?"

"No. I guess he felt sorry for him," Shalee murmured. "Anyhow, he's a good kid, and good at what he does."

Kathetel smirked, "That crush run both ways?"

She argued, "I barely know him."

He shrugged, "Makes little difference. What I do know is that if I tell you to stay away from him you'll go to extraordinary measures to get close to him. So, do as you will, but be careful. He's so far off the radar that he isn't likely to make waves. As for your friend Tiger..."

She stiffened.

"Precisely what part of 'hes a dangerous man stay away from him' did you not understand, hmmm?"