"How did your meeting go?"
Shalee glanced sideways, unsurprised to see the Imperial Agent. He seemed to have a way of popping up out of the blue. He grinned at her as he settled against the railing that she'd been leaning on, watching the waves rolling across the shoreline.
"It was strange. Every interaction I've ever had with that man has ended poorly. Time after time he's acted as if he hated me...now all of a sudden he's actually nice to me? It makes no sense. And he wants me to actually trust him. I mean, there's trust then theres I'm-putting-my-life-in-your-hands trust. He says he can give me back most of my memories."
"He has a backup?"
"It's pretty current, I'd only be missing a couple of months of memories."
"So you'd remember everything but the most important thing you're after. You wouldn't know why you got involved with Tiger," he said thoughtfully.
"I wish I could help you. I honestly don't know what you were up to. I told you several times to stay away from him. He wasn't an official assignment, not from the Empire. However that doesn't mean anything really, you could have picked up the assignment from any number of people."
"Like Raphael Saint?"
Kathetel nodded. "You might have done some work for him. Or CVA even, Tiger was a huge thorn in their side at one time. There could have been any number of reasons you befriended him. You could have decided to do it on your own, for whatever reason. You have a habit of killing Sani Sabik, after all. Or...it could be what it seems. You could have actually fell in love with him...despite my warnings."
She shrugged, "Guess I'll never really know the whole truth."
He looked out at the sea, "Are you going to take Verone up on his offer?"
"I don't know. I have until the morning to decide. He seems genuine and everyone keeps telling me that I can trust him- well, Miko and his doctor, anyhow."
"You've trusted him in the past."
"That's what he said. But I don't remember that. I don't remember him, all I know is that he is a notorious crime lord, on the DED's most wanted, and that he has a strong hatred for Amarr. So yeah, not too eager to put my life in his hands."
Kathetel suggested, "You could always live as you are now."
Shalee made a face, "True. But then I'd always wonder. I'd always have this lingering doubt in the back of my mind about everyone. If I take him up on the offer, at least I'd know. Maybe not about Tiger but everyone else."
"True. So you've made up your mind?"
She sighed, "I guess I have. I have little choice otherwise, the only other current neural copy is in the hands of Jacobi...if that's even true. It could be a ruse. I wouldn't put it past him."
"He will be dealt with in time."
"Yeah. But until then..." She brushed a strand of hair from her face, "I'll trust the pirate. But...if I don't come back..."
"You will. One way or another, you will. And if this is a setup-which I highly doubt- then I'll have your jump clone activated. It's current, yeah?"
She nodded, "Yeah. And I'll have another scan before I leave. Apparently I'll be there for at least twenty four hours, the doctor says I'll have to stay put for a while."
"You're staying at the VETO headquarters? Does Tiger even know you're doing this?"
"No one does except you, Miko, Verone, and his doctor. No one from corp knows."
"How are they anyhow?"
"Busy. We've spent weeks moving out of Huola."
"How do you feel about that?" he asked.
"It's different. All I've ever known is the Bleaks and Devoid. Though it's only sixteen jumps away it feels as if it's on the far side of New Eden. But, orders are orders, and we have been tasked with heading a new front into Minmatar space. A part of me is excited about it, I guess," she admitted.
"About that..." he pulled small data chip and passed it to her. "The real reason you guys were assigned the Otosela front..."
"A new assignment?"
He nodded. "But don't activate it until you return from Veto. Just in case, don't want them knowing what's really going on."
"Alright," she said curiously as she slipped it into her pocket. "I'll wait."
"Good. See you in a couple of days."
The lights of the Huola space station dimmed along the corridor, simulating evening time. At the far end of the hall, a group of new Amarrian militia pilots rounded the corner, talking loudly and laughing, obviously in a good mood. Shalee assumed their patrol went well.
She nodded to them as they passed mid-corridor. One paused and lightly grabbed her by the arm, trying to get her attention, "Hey Commodore, be careful out there, I hear Lukka was seen warping in."
Another young pilot groaned as he heard the news, "Sansha balls, not him! He cost me half a bil in implants last time he was around."
Shalee quirked a tawny brow, "Lukka?"
"Yeah, don't you remember him? Terrorized the 24th for a couple of months, popping most anything that landed."
"Scum," muttered another.
"Oh yeah, I vaguely remember something about him. So he's back?"
"That's what intel says, anyhow. So be careful okay?
"Yeah, of course." She smiled to the bunch of them, "Actually I'm not on the roster tonight, got some things to take care of planet side, but I'll see you guys in a couple of days."
"Roger that. See you Commodore." He tossed her a lazy salute as he dashed up the hall to catch up with his friends.
Shalee neared the windows and crossed her arms, staring aimlessly out into space. Several more militia pilots were being pulled into docking range. She recognized a couple of ships and made her way to the station's public hangar's, hoping she'd run into First General, needing to pass on some information to him before she clone jumped into Veto's medical facilities.
Instead, she came face to face with the notorious Lukka, though she did not recognize him.
"Are you a new recruit?" she asked, eyeing him cautiously.
He laughed. "Nothing of the sort, Commodore Lianne." He said her name slowly, grinning. He propped up against the wall and folded his arms, eyeing her with a smirk.
"Well? What do you want?" she asked impatiently, almost unnerved by the way he was staring at her.
"I have something to tell you, however, I know you're not going to believe me." He continued to grin, as if it were all some big, amusing game to him.
She found him infuriating.
"I really don't have time for this. Say what you will, sir."
"Lukka," he said, correcting her.
"You're the man I just heard about? Great. Though I warn you, your little cowardly sniping tricks wont work inside the station."
He laughed, "Now now Seashell, is that any way to talk to the man who's come to save your life?"
"Don't call me Seashell," she said with the arrogance only a Holder's daughter could muster, her tone imperious and cold. 'You'll address me as befitting my station and rank, sir." She practically spit the word at him.
"You used to like it. In fact, you used to like a lot of things..." his tone insinuated much.
"You really did have a penchant for the bad boys, you know. Too bad you've forgotten."
She rolled her eyes.
"There it is, that fiery little temper that everyone finds so irresistible." He pushed himself from the wall and cornered her, his massive arms coming up to trap her against the wall behind her. "That temper that gets you into oh-so-much trouble, young lady."
She twisted her face in anger as she jerked her knee up, aiming to shove it into his groin. He grabbed her thigh before it could make contact. "You know I like it when you're rough, sweetheart." He forced her leg down as he grabbed her wrists with one hand, capturing them above her head. "Are you prepared to listen now?"
She nodded, her blue eyes blazing with hot anger. "Yes."
"Good," he said as he released her hands.
"Get off of me!" she shoved at his chest.
He laughed, not budging, remaining mere inches from her. "Being a hero is quite exhausting, you know." He said as she shoved him again. "I thought you said you were going to listen."
"Go to hell." She balled her hand into a tight fist and slammed it against the side of his jaw.
"Goddammit." He scooped her up in a fluid move, tossing her lithe form across his shoulder. She screamed and wailed at his back. "We could have done this the easy way but would you listen? Noooo." He carried across the metallic walkway and through the door of his rented station's captain's quarters.
Once inside he threw her onto a sofa, "Don't you dare move," he said as he qued up the holographic screen in front of them.
Before her eyes, the Scope logo disappeared into black as a personal recording flashed into view.
Her eyes widened as she watched herself and Lukka roll across a black, satin covered bed. Naked.
His hand caressed her thigh, inching it's way up as he asked, "Ready for round two? She giggled in response and said, "And three, and four." Her mouth grazed his jawline. "And five," she whispered seductively.
She squeezed her eyes shut as she yelled, "Turn it off!"
He complied and the room faded into semi darkness.
"Fine. I get it, okay? We fucked."
"Such a crude little mouth you have on you, Seashell. Another thing I really loved."
She exhaled a frustrated breath. "What do you even want from me? Because you must know that I don't remember you, and I feel like if I ever meant anything at all to you, I would have seen you in these past few months...and since I don't even have a clue to who you are..."
The humor left his face and he simply stared at her for the longest of moments before saying, "I've seen you. You didn't know it but I've kept my eye on you from the distance, and I know that you went to see Ethan Verone last night and I know that your old self wouldn't do that. You two quit talking for a reason."
"What do you even know about him?"
"I know what you've told me in the past. I know he is someone that meant you harm once, and I know that you need to stay away from him."
She considered his words. "But he wants to help me now. He wants to give me my memories back."
"Yeah, but at what price? He threatened to kill you before, Shalee. So you have to ask yourself now, what's in it for him?"