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?"
"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...."