Memories of Adia, the planet of my birth, fluttered through my mind. Some deep, dark part of me longed for what I once knew, despite how when I lived there, all I wanted to do was leave it.
I laughed with scorn as the traitorous thoughts drifted through my mind. I couldn't believe I actually missed them. I thought of my father and brothers. My Father had been a Holder, a favorite among the royal court. His natural charm wove a spell over most anyone he came into contact with. My brothers were the epitome of noble elegance. We lived a beautiful, privileged life. On the outside, anyhow. Very few were privy to our immoral, Sani Sabik secrets.
Oppressive emotions swirled as I remembered my life- the life that was stolen away by another. My last original memory before awakening in a cloned body was of my Father, telling me that the medical scan wouldn't hurt, that it would be a quick and painless procedure. He squeezed my fingers and smiled indulgently. I wondered how it was possible to both love and hate someone with equal passion.
Little did I know in that moment that the procedure was to secure a brain scan for cloning purposes- a safeguard in light of my last suicide attempt. I would never be allowed to leave my family. Even dying wasn't an option.
The scan was tucked away somewhere safe by my Father and somehow along the timeline, was discovered (stolen?) by Tigerfish Torpedo, and activated. Five years had passed between that mindscan and when I was awakened.
Later I would learn that I was an illegal clone of Shalee Lianne- though in my mind, Shalee was a copy of me.
I was familiar with the details of Shalee's life. She ran away, and was taken in by some mercenaries. She became a capsuleer, then a spy. She found love in the Imperial Militia and stayed. Her career was impressive. She climbed her way through the ranks, and became a Divine Commodore. She flew with some of the best capsuleers in all of New Eden. She was fiercly loyal to Imperial Militia and those she loved and cared about.
Yes, I was familiar with the course of events that could have been my life, of all the choices the clone had made. I knew far too much about what had happened in the life of her. Our namesake. Shalee Lianne.
A name that had been my own with a history that was mine too.
Because of the choices Shalee had made, some noble, others horrific, I was brought into existence, born into the world-into a stolen clone of Shalee aboard the Indefatigable in the deep recesses of Null Sec. Brought to life by Shalee's then ex, who had obsessed over her so much that he couldn't bear to be apart from her.
And so he cloned her.
He secretly brought to life my scan- a seventeen year old Shalee, one that had been on the cusp of womanhood, living under her Father's rule. Tiger kept me hidden away in lawless space for months, filling my head with lies about what all had happened with my family- coaxing me into trusting him, building a relationship with me, and waiting for me to fall in love with him.
It almost happened.
He showered me with gifts, and spent an enormous amount of time with me each day. His seduction was slow and methodical. He kept me secluded in space, away from everyone that I had ever known, 'for my own safety'. I wasn't allowed contact with anyone, even his own crew.
Despite my seclusion, I was rarely lonely. I could sit for hours at the view-port and gaze out at the stars. Space agreed with me; the haunting beauty of planets and moons illuminated by colorful suns, nebulae and space dust utterly fascinated me.
I was happy, for once, living under the illusion of having 'freedom'. I was allowed to explore the ship to my heart's content- only I wasn't allowed access to the holonet or communications. For my own protection, he said, and that of the crew. We were cloaked, drifting aimlessly through space.
It was a peaceful and quiet sort of existence, until Lasairiona Raske, Tiger's mistress, had surprised him with a visit and found me instead. Illusions were shattered as I realized that Tiger had lied about everything.
Lasa had filled me in on the last five years. I was a copy of another. She told me how Shalee had became a capsuleer, and had met Tiger. The two eventually became engaged, though she had broken it off because she felt Tiger was keeping secrets. And her gut feeling had been right, Tiger had indeed been keeping the biggest secret of all- that he had a mistress whom he impregnated. With twins.
I made a rash decision in that moment and asked her to help me escape. When Tiger had returned to the Indefatigable, he found it empty, though he must have realized what had happened. There would have been a record of Lasa boarding.
She had been gracious enough to leave me with a bit of ISK and a warning to stay away from Concorded space. If I were found, Concord would be forced to eliminate both me and the other Shalee, because it was forbidden for two clones of the same person to be active at the same time.
I was left with nothing, lost in space and time. Drifting aimlessly, with no place to call home because she had claimed it. I couldn't contact the people from my past because they no longer belonged to me. I was an abomination, an unnatural thing created from the whim's of Tiger's twisted, dark obsession.
I ran and I hid until I had used the last bit of ISK Lasa had given me. In desperation, I tried to access funds that were left to me by my Grandmother. Of course access was denied; apparently Shalee had changed the access codes...but that one attempt was enough to pique the interest of someone who monitored all things digital in Shalee's life.
They called her Red.
Red, a childlike avatar of Shalee's subconscious, kept a watchful eye in the holographic realm. She haunted anything she had access to, constantly prying into Shalee's affairs, and those of the people she was close to. Red manifested in the real world too via holodrones. She projected herself as a child and carried on her own agendas, because as Shalee slept, Red would awaken. When Shalee awakened, she'd never remember what Red had done. But Red remembered everything.
Red found me in a boarder system near Empire after I tried to withdraw ISK that was rightfully mine. I can't even describe how utterly bizare it was to carry on a conversation with a hologram of my five year old self. She helped me, though. She gave me enough ISK to stay on the run, with a warning that I should never enter Concord space. If I tried, and was caught by Concord, it would be the end of all of us- no questions asked.
As I hid, Red informed some of Shalee's most trusted friends of my existence. Aldrith Shutak was the first to find me. He offered me an apartment and visited me frequently. He had planned to help me create a new identity. I was then entrusted into the care of Raphael Saint, another who had put me under lock and key with offers of a new identity.
Hide, they said. Be someone else, they said. Our lives depended on it, they said.
But it wasn't fair. It wasn't just.
I hated it and wanted no part of a new life. I wanted what was rightfully mine. Someone else had been living my life all of these years. An impostor. And yet, I realized I was just as much an impostor as she. None of it was fair, to either of us.
Yes, I'll admit it. Some dark part of me, that part honed by the Sani Sabik, thought about killing her. It would be too easy to murder her and take her place. I doubt anyone would have realized until it was too late, and then what could they do about it? Some nights I'd let the fantasy play out as I lie in my bed in my humble apartment hidden away from society. Kill her, and become the Cerra Holder. Claim everything- our past, everything that was rightfully mine, and everything that she has built afterwards. Take it all.
I almost did it. Once. I went to Cerra Manor as her. I knew she was away, and that there wouldn't be a chance of us being at the same place at the same time. I had it all down pat- her clothes, her hair. I interacted with her friends on the terrace easily enough...and then I saw him.
The man who was responsible for everything. My very existence...and my utter misery.
I didn't go there with the intentions of killing him, but the opportunity presented itself. I lured him out onto the beach, pretending to be her. He followed like the lovesick puppy that he was. I got him into a compromised position and I did it. Just like that. I murdered him with a blade I had taken from the terrace. In that moment I unleashed months of fury as I drove the blade over and over into his chest. As his blood splattered my face and dripped down my wrists, I stared into his lifeless eyes and spit in his face.
I hated that man more than I hated anyone in my whole entire life.
Though he died, it gave me little relief or comfort. He was a capsuleer, after all. He would clone, and suffer little for all that he had done. In fact, he wouldn't even remember me killing him since he died out of a pod.
But the seed had been planted. I would destroy him. Somehow. Someday.