Five years ago...
"I cannot forget about you, no matter how hard I've tried. Come away with me, let me love you like you should be."
"I'm not some prize to be claimed, Garst."
"Of course not! It was destiny that brought us together. My love is unconditional, no matter where my work takes me."
"Leave me alone," she pleaded softly. "I need time to think."
"I love you. What is there to think about?"
A few weeks ago...
Solar System: SAH-AD
Region: Etherium Reach
Security Level: -0.2
Station: Sad XIX Dont Fight Triumvirate
Emerald lights flickered along the corridor of the Gallente-styled space station in the SAH-AD star system, the new home to her corporation and alliance. They had moved the two jumps in a matter of hours, with hundreds of ships ferrying back and forth between star-gates. She wasn't sure the reason of the deployment, but it wasn't her place to ask questions. She simply did as she was told and got her things moved as swiftly as possible.
She found her room at the far end of the upper deck, near a series of elevators. As she keyed in the generic pass code, the door slid open. Once inside, she set up a personal pass-code, then made a quick walk about the room, checking to see that her clothing had been sent up. A few unopened crates were stacked up neatly by the closet. She quickly unpacked her few possessions, making sure to hide her sidearm in the safe inside the closet.
Once she finished, she exited her quarters to explore the new station. As she stepped into the corridor, she heard a familiar voice. His voice. Garst Tyrell neared, talking into his neo-comm to one of his subordinates on the flight deck. She gasped as their eyes met. She could feel her pulse quicken as his harsh gaze bore into hers. He scowled, his lips pressing together into a hard, thin line. She expected him to say something but he merely turned and disappeared onto the lift.
Her heart skipped out of rhythm and she felt as if she were going to faint. She shuddered, recalling the audio clip that someone in the upper echelons of No. Mercy secretly sent her; a recording of his orders regarding her after she had joined his corporation. "You are going to follow her. You are going to have your agents follow her. You are going to intercept her communications. You are going to feed her false intel and see if turns up on the net. You are going to break into her room and riffle through her god damn underwear. Turn the place inside out, but make sure she doesn't see you. The same damn thing you do over and over, you do it well, and you do it right. No mistakes."
"I love you, what is there to think about?" How quickly the line between love and hate eroded all those years ago.
She leaned against her CQ's door for a full five minutes, waiting to make certain he wasn't coming back to float her out of an airlock before starting her exploration. Not wanting to run into him again, she decided to explore the Commons- an area on every station where the lowest dregs of society congregated. There was no possible way Tyrell would sully his reputation by slumming it, of that she was certain.
She located the usual operations: Gambling dens, whore houses, fighting pits, and black market goods. Capsuleers were drawn to the rush, in or out of pod.
Pulsing music reverberated into the corridor. The ceilings burst with a kaleidoscope of color as ads for each establishment flashed in time with the music. A couple of Gallente men dressed in shiny black pants- and nothing else, catcalled her as she bypassed the more nefarious, hedonistic hubs. Chuckling, she kept moving until she found the bazaar. The bazaar was full of 'local' goods from nearby planets and usually more tame than the Commons.
As she paused to admire an amethyst necklace from a Caldari vendor, she noticed a pair of dark eyes intently focused on her. A chill snaked down her spine as she wondered if it were one of Garst's agents following her. Pretending to be oblivious to him, she returned her attention to the jewelry, biding her time until a large crowd came passing by the booth. She slipped away, pushing herself in between a pair of Jin-Mei capusleers. Without checking to see if he followed, she quickly ducked into a dimly lit corridor and walked through the shadows to the next vendor. A blood red sign pulsed above the archway, though she couldn't read the ancient Intaki. A spicy scent permeated the air, something exotic and alluring. Stepping through the archway, she glanced around the room. On one side the vendor sold charms, candles, ritual books and spell items. The other side lead to another area of the shop, though she couldn't tell what was beyond the curtained doorway.
Keeping one eye on the entrance, she pretended to take an interest in the items for sell. "You have an interesting display," she remarked casually to the dark Brutor who hovered behind the counter. He was the darkest Brutor she'd ever seen, his skin inky black except for a few swirling tribal tattoos in white along his biceps.
He chuckled, and gave her a toothy grin in return, "Fancy anything, M'Lady?"
"Hmmm," she tapped her fingertip to her mouth as she looked over the goods. "I don't think so. Just browsing, really." She decided most of the items would be contraband in the Empire, anyhow.
He tipped his head towards a brightly curtained door, "Then perhaps M'Lady would like her fortune told?"
A skeptical brow shot up, though she smiled politely. "I don't really believe in such things. I am afraid it would be wasted on me."
He chuckled, "That is what they all say, until they actually meet Madam Croiset."
Fine. I'll play along, she thought as she asked, "Who is she?"
He nodded towards the curtained door, "Why don't you go and find out for twenty ISK."
Shalee hesitated for a moment, then nodded with a sweet smile. It would bide her some time, and perhaps the agent would give up looking for her. "Yeah, okay. Why not?"
After paying for the session, she stepped through the curtain and felt like she was passing into another world. The entire room was black, void of any color except for a fire brazier in the center of a small table. Flames danced eerily, casting shadows into the dark corners. The spicy scent was was heavier in this room, almost overbearing. Madam Croiset sat at the end of a small table and wiggled her fingers, motioning Shalee over. "Come in, have a seat." Her accent was thick, though very charming.
Shalee smiled and crossed the room, "Thank you. It's very dark in here..." She took a moment to study the psychic. Inky black hair framed a pale white face. Shalee couldn't make out her age, though she had a timeless air about her. She could be anywhere from thirty to one hundred and thirty.
"The dark gives me focus. Now, give me your hand, child."
Shalee took a seat opposite of the medium and laid her hand out onto the table, palm up. "I suppose this is the part you tell me that I have a long life ahead of me and that I'll marry a tall, rich, and handsome man." She blushed sheepishly, "Sorry. I don't mean to offend."
Madam Croiset smiled indulgently, "You forgot dark and mysterious."
She chuckled, "But of course."
Madam Croiset adjusted her golden monocle and leaned over Shalee's palm, studying it. She stroked her long, pale finger along the inside of Shalee's hand and traced a single line. "Interesting pattern, but not unique to a capsuleer." She lifted her sparkling green gaze and looked at her intently, "What really intrigues me is the haunting."
"Pardon?" Shalee's brow shot up, "What do you mean?"
"I see spirits all around you."
Shalee resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Ah...I see. Who's?"
Madam Croiset darted her eyes around, looking over Shalee's shoulder. "Lives you've taken."
Shalee imagined a legion full of ghosts swarming her. Really, what capsuleer hadn't been responsible for thousands of deaths in the time of war? She usually didn't think about such things; it was far too depressing. It was easier to put it out of her mind and chalk up her kills to the necessity of war. For years she had fought for the Amarr Empire, and now for Garst Tyrell. Either way, duty was duty. In combat, it was kill or be killed. "There isn't a station big enough to house the spirits of my dead, I should think." She stood, tiring of the charade. "Thank you for an amusing time."
"Wait. There are three."
Shalee tilted her head with her arms folded loosely in front of her. "Fine. Who are they?"
Croiset shook her head, "I'm not sure. But one has a message for you..."
She sighed with annoyance, "Yes. Of course one has a message for me. A dire one, no doubt. And if I should pay you a few more ISK you'd be more than happy to tell me, is that the gist of it?"
"Please stay." Her eyes narrowed. "It's about your daughter...," she whispered compassionately. "
"We lost her."
Xavier huffed out a breath as his fingers tightened around his comm-link. "How the fuck did that happen? You had one goddamned job. To follow her."
"She gave us the slip near the Commons."
"What was she doing there?"
"I don't know. Shopping?"
Xav muttered under his breath, "You don't know? You don't fucking know? What, precisely, do you think you're getting paid for?"
"She made Maulder, we think. Once she spotted him, she uh...just slipped away," Jameson replied weakly.
His tone was incredulous. "Just slipped away." Hot anger flashed in his blue-black eyes. "Pray you don't find out what Tyrell does to incompetent employees." he warned, just before killing the communication.
Xavier settled down behind his desk and raked his fingers through his hair with a frustrated sigh. He pulled the security feeds up from around the Commons, each camera drone casting a small display against the opposite side of the room. Hundreds of scenes played out before him in real time. He watched each simultaneously, his implants allowing him to absorb data lightning fast, and with exact precision. Every detail unveiled before him throughout the Commons, though he dismissed most of it as unimportant.
"Where are you..." he muttered to himself as he waited for Shalee to pass by one of the live feeds.
An image from one of the seedier bars caught his attention.
[Deck 42, Security Drone 3947] The beautiful Esharan draped an arm across the shoulder of a pale blonde Amarrian woman and pulled her in for a drunken kiss. Their tongues danced against one another's, lapping eagerly, bodies close.
He quickly diverted his attention to another feed, forcing himself not be aware of what was happening between the two women.
Easier said than done.
The images flowed into his consciousness and played at the front of his mind.
[Deck 42, Security Drone 3947] Esharan broke the kiss, her lips wet and a little bit swollen. She grazed them across the blonde's throat hungrily, her tongue lapping at the other's pale skin.
Cursing himself, he enhanced the feed and activated audio.
[Deck 42, Security Drone 3947] "You're quite tasty," Esharan whispered seductively against the Amarrian's ear. She nibbled her earlobe, then darted her tongue out to trace the line of her jaw. "I bet you're even tastier here," she stated as she boldly slid her hand beneath the girl's skirt.
The Amarrian gasped as she held her head back, a look of pleasure beaming from her half-lidded eyes. "You don't even know my name."
"Is that important to you?," Esharan asked with a sultry tone as her hand moved rhythmically under the tiny black skirt.
"Lauren. My name is Lauren," the girl said, just before clamping her teeth down onto her lower lip, stifling a moan.
"Want to go into the back and have a little fun, Lauren?" Esh asked as she pulled her hand up from between the girl's thighs and licked at her fingers.
Lauren nodded with a wild, eager smile, "Yes, please."
A trickle of sweat beaded on Xavier's forehead as the two women disappeared into another room. He forced his attention elsewhere, until he caught sight of them again in the long, dimly lit corridor behind the bar. They stepped into a private room- or so they thought, and started to shed one another's clothing.
With a guilty feeling settling into the pit of his stomach, he queued the audio in their room and enhanced it. He wanted to hear every little moan uttered, every little gasp given.
[Deck 42, Security Drone 3954] Esharan climbed onto the bed after Lauren stretched out across the mattress. Her pale skin flushed with desire, her arousal blatant and glistening between her parted legs.
Esh teased her fingers along Lauren's thighs as she kissed the girl's bent knee. "I didn't think Amarrian girls were allowed to play with other girls like this," she said in between small, butterfly kisses along Lauren's inner thigh.
"W-we aren't supposed to...." Lauren's fingers curled into the red sheet, her knuckles white. Her taut stomach undulated, quivering as Esharan neared her pink, soft center.
"Your secret is safe with me," Esh said, revelling in the musky scent of the Amarrian, her mouth hovering, increasing the other's anticipation. "Is this your first time with a girl?"
As Esh lowered her mouth to claim the girl's forbidden innocence, Xavier forced himself to focus on another drone. He searched the crowds strolling through the Commons as he listened to Lauren's throaty moans.
"God-damn," he swore, as he glanced back to the couple, watching as positions were changed.
[Deck 42, Security Drone 3954] Esharan maneuvered herself over Lauren's lithe little body, her weight supported by her long, sinewy limbs pressing into the mattress. Moans were muffled as each sought the other's pleasurable spot. Hands roamed along Esh's back and buttocks, fingers frantically clasping at the girl as she learned to give as much as she took.
Pleasure exploded for one, then both. Their cries of ecstasy sent a shiver down Xavier's spine. The torment of listening to them became almost unbearable. "Again, please," he heard Lauren demand, seconds before he killed both audio and video.
"Ok Xav. Focus," he told himself out loud. "Where would she go, and who would she contact next?"
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Xavier slouched against the atrium wall with his arms folded loosely across his broad chest. He'd been up most of the night and he was beginning to feel it. Exhaustion settled in, making his eyes water. Yawning, he covered his mouth, then rubbed at his face. He'd been camped out in the corridor, waiting for Shalee Lianne. A call to arms had just pinged over their comms.
He checked the time, then looked to Shalee's door, anticipating it opening any second. With a weary sigh, he paced closer, moving out of the way as two Cybershield pilots made their way to the flight deck. Their voices faded as they stepped onto the lift. As the doors closed to the lift, Shalee's door opened. She stepped out wearing a loose fitting black jumper over her pod suite with the Tri logo in bright red across the chest.
'She looks as tired as tired as I feel', he thought as he approached her, swiftly cornering her before she had time to react. His hands slid on either side of her head and braced against the wall behind her. "Going somewhere?"
Shalee gasped, her lips parting slightly, eyes widening with a mixture of curiosity and alarm. "Yes..." She stared at him as she lifted her chin, her expression instantly changing into one of haughty imperialism. A Holder's daughter, and now a Holder herself. Yes, he knew who she was. He had researched her for hours after Alexi had left. "Move it. I don't want to be late for fleet," she said as she lifted her hands and shoved them against his chest.
"Not so fast." He studied her face, noting the dark shadows beneath her eyes. Obviously she hadn't had much sleep lately, and was probably surviving on stims and caffeine. The war with Nulli was taking it's toll. "You have some explaining to do."
Shalee looked at him oddly, as if she couldn't quite figure him out. "About?"
Her brow arched as her mouth slanted into a frown. "I'm afraid you'll have to be a little more specific."
"Stop playing coy." He leaned in and whispered against her ear, "I'm on to you."
She shoved at his chest again as her eyes lit with panic. "Get off of me."
He kept his arms rigid while leaning in closer, so close that their bodies were touching. "Not until you tell me how you did it."
Her stormy blue eyes flashed with anger. "Did what?" she asked through gritted teeth. "I don't know what you're talking about, but, this little fright game you're playing? It is tiresome. So I suggest you run back to Garst and tell him I'm not fucking afraid of him or his over sized goons. Now get the hell out of my way!"
Xavier cocked his head, surprised at her sudden rant, "What are you even talking about?"
"What are you talking about?" she countered hotly, her face flushing.
He puffed out his cheeks, annoyed with her. "Look. You've been spying on me, and I want to know why."
Her expression remained passive, though something in her eyes let him know she was lying even before she opened her mouth, "I'm not spying on you."
"Yes. You are. But why? Who am I to you?"
She shook her head slightly, "You're no one to me and I don't have time for this conversation. I do not want to be late for fleet! So get the hell out of my way before I...." her voice trailed off, as if she were uncertain to what she'd do.
He smirked, "You're not going anywhere until you answer my question. Why are you spying on me? And how did you get access to my personal captain's quarters?"
A look of confusion swept across her face, "I don't have access to your quarters."
"Then how the hell do you explain your daughter coming into my room last night while I had company..."
"Yes. Your daughter. She had to be yours. She looks just like you with those slanted, Ni Kunni eyes. I saw her, Shalee."
A trail of crimson dripped from her nose as her eyes rolled back in her head. She slumped down the wall as she lost consciousness. He stretched his hand down her back, grabbing a hold of her.
"Goddammit," he uttered beneath his breath as he hoisted her up and carried her into his quarters.
Consciousness came slowly, as if she were fighting her way through a dark tunnel. Her senses came into focus one by one. With her eyes still closed, she lay there for a long moment, listening to the sound of some years-old Gallente song playing over a holonet. Somewhere, further away, a male's deep voice sang along with the song. The cloying scent of booze, expensive perfume, and sex permeated the air.
Sex? Her stomach lurched. Did she just have sex? No. That wasn't right. Wetting her lips, she could still taste the metallic tang of blood. Rolling her hands along the silk sheets, she pushed against the mattress and sat up while blinking open her eyes.
Her blue gaze darted from side to side as she skimmed it across the unfamiliar captain's quarter. In the dim light, she could make out a well stocked mini bar across the room. The closet door was open, exposing a row of expensive suits. She slid to the edge of the bed and reached for one of the empty bottles nearby, reading the label. She whistled at the price, certainly more than she'd ever spend on a bottle of champagne. Hell, it almost cost as much as what she'd pay for a cruiser.
She rubbed her hands along her face, massaging her thumbs against her temples, trying to rub away the headache that pounded since she had awoken.
"Where the hell am I?" she whispered to herself.
The singing stopped.
"Hello?" she called out in a worried tone.
Steam wafted into the room as the bathroom door slid open. The hazy silhouette of a tall, well built man stepped through the mist. A towel hung loosely around his hips, the only thing he wore except for the dog-tags that dangled together against his perfectly defined chest. Rivulets of water cascaded down his neck as he raked a hand through his short, wet hair. "You're awake."
She quickly averted her gaze as her cheeks flushed. "And you're naked." She could feel heat creeping up her neck.
"Not completely, but I can be if you'd like." He smirked as he tugged at his towel.
"Are all Gallente men this obnoxious?" And hot? Not that she'd give him the satisfaction of saying that out loud.
Xavier chuckled. "Probably." He poured two drinks at the mini bar. "You like whiskey, yeah?" He brought the two glasses over to where she sat and handed her one.
She took the whiskey while trying not to look at him.
He chuckled, seemingly amused by her discomfort.
"So. Why am I here? Please don't say we hooked up...." A look of panic flashed across her embarrassed face.
He cocked a dark brow, "You don't remember?"
Shalee shook her head no. "I remember getting pinged for an op. I remember..." her brows scrunched together. "Was I podded? But that wouldn't explain why I'm in here."
He took a sip of his whiskey while never taking his eyes off of her. "You fell. In the corridor. I was headed for the op when I saw you go down. I picked you up and brought you in here. I called a medic to look you over. He said you should be okay, to let you rest. I didn't bother moving you because I didn't know how to get into your room. And. I figured you didn't want to end up in medbay- there's no telling how long they would want to keep you for observation." He smiled charmingly.
She nodded slowly, oblivious to his lies. "Then I should thank you for coming to my rescue? And I probably should let you get back to what you were doing..." She stood, wobbling a bit. Her face flushed with embarrassment as Xavier jumped up and reached for her hand to steady her.
"Sorry. Still a bit light headed," she apologized.
"You don't have to go yet. We could get something to eat? I would suggest the chow hall but that place is shit."
She nodded, realizing it was pointless to try and catch up with fleet at this point. "Yeah, okay. Where would we go?"
"Hmm. We could stay here. Sit down. I'll cook for you," he offered with a roguish smile. "Some say I'm pretty good."
"Sure...if you put some clothes on." She grinned.
He chuckled, "Surprising. You're the first woman to try to get me into my clothes. Usually it is the other way around."
As Xavier sauntered off to the small kitchenette, she settled onto his bed to check her messages. She slid her thumb across the access pad, and frowned at the pile of unanswered correspondence.
From: Kahar Dex
To: Shalee Lianne,
Lady Lianne, Would it be interesting to you join the ranks of Faithful Amarr in Providence?
Her brow quirked at the message. Cardinal Dex, from CVA, was asking for her help? Did he not realize she was kill-on-sight to CVA and had been for years? Curious, but the next one even more so.
From: Sahriah BloodStone
To: Shalee Lianne,
Lady Lianne, At your pleasure, I would very much like to continue our conversation.
My deepest respect,
She sent a quick response to Sahriah, letting her know she'd be back in Huola over the weekend and that they should meet at the terrace. Exhaling, she raked her fingers through her hair as she played through several different outcomes in her mind. The last she'd seen the girl, she purposely lied, claiming to be both Sani Sabik and Garst's lover, hoping that it would send her running off to tell Tiger. She needed to know just how close Sahriah and Tiger were becoming. He claimed he hadn't seen her but she knew better. She knew they had met recently. She just didn't know what they were up to. An affair perhaps? Or maybe he was grooming her in the Sani Sabik religion once more? So many unanswered questions rolled through her mind, each leading her off on a different tangent.
From: Shalee Lianne
To: Shalee Lianne
Trust Xavier, but don't trust Vlad. He wants to kill Tiger and he is bribing Lord Reginald's district governor.
The next mail had shocked her more than the previous two. So Vlad Cetes was up to no good? That should hardly surprise her. The 'robot' had no emotion, and no loyalty to no one but his own self interests. But he'd never worked against her that she knew of. Why would he want to murder her husband? And what did controlling Reginald's affairs have to do with anything. The sickening feeling that Vlad could be manipulating her this whole time made her cringe. As greedy and impractical as he was, she couldn't imagine him murdering a five year old child...could he?
She quickly killed her the holofeed as Xavier returned with two plates. "Dinner's ready. Hope you like Caldari Casserole." He smiled as he motioned her over to the living area.
She slid down onto the sofa after taking the plate from him. "Xavier...when were you going to tell me you met Red?"
He blinked, startled. "Oh...you know?"
Shalee nodded. "Yeah. She left me a message and said I could trust you. Why?"
"She was here last night, playing around on your holonet. She saw some things that were hardly proper...anyhow. I thought she was your daughter. I confronted you earlier about it. I guess accusing you about your daughter was too much. You passed out and I brought you in here. She popped up and explained everything. Who she is, etc."
Shalee nodded, "I see."
"Look. I want to help you."
"How can you?"
An arrogant smirk stretched across his mouth, "I can get you those files you need and access into the upper echelon's security feed."