Three months ago.
From: Shalee Lianne Cerra
To: Tigerfish Torpedo
As you must have figured out by now, we are gone. My decision wasn't made lightly and I want you to know that it isn't your fault. You've done nothing wrong, but... I can't be with you anymore. I am sorry, Tiger. For what it's worth, I truly loved you.
To: Shalee Lianne Cerra,
From: Tigerfish Torpedo
Private Estates, Cerra Holdings.
I hope this letter finds you soon, and in good health.
I have had my suspicions for a while that something wasn't right; that you weren't happy, but am surprised you never said anything to me. In the entire time we've known one another, you've never been the kind to simply run away from your problems without so much as a word. I got your letter, of course, but am surprised you never talked to me in person. I would say that you owe me that much; that if I truly did nothing wrong, then you owe me an explanation for leaving me in this way.
I mean, if it's Gia's father putting pressure on you again, or if you've fallen for another man, we can sort though it. Just agree to meet with me, in a neutral place, so we can discuss this. Please? I won't let you break my heart and destroy our marriage, when we were only recently discussing renewing our vows, without some understanding of the reason behind this.
I want to see you say those words to me, without anyone cohersing you. Tell me face to face that you no longer love me, Shalee. If you can, I'll let you leave and start a new life without me.
Still, devotedly yours,
To: Tigerfish Torpedo
From: Shalee Lianne Cerra
I can't. I'm sorry, but I can't. One day I hope that you will understand.
The air unit kicked on and artificial cool air chilled her arms. Errant strands of hair tickled the side of her face. She brushed her hair back and tucked it behind her ear as she sat patiently waiting for Dr. Witwer.
Beyond the window, the evening sun highlighted the balmy sky, streaking it with strands of purple and gold. Shalee sighed as she waited, absently watching the city skyline's air lanes filling with planetary vehicles and small shuttles.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said as he entered into his office and closed the door behind him.
Shalee stood and shook his hand, "It's fine. Thank you for seeing me without an appointment."
"Of course. Any time, Miss Cerra," he said as he shook her hand then motioned for her to sit.
A smile ghosted across her lips as she settled down onto the black leather sofa and nervously stroked her palms down the length of her thighs, smoothing away nonexistent wrinkles. She exhaled slowly, a soothing breath, a calming technique that he had taught her. "Sorry. I'm just a little bit... off, today."
"You're fine. So," he prompted as he sat down in front of her. "Is everything all right? I haven't seen you in a while and assumed that you were doing much better?"
She nodded, "Oh. I am better, thank you for asking. My memories will never be what they once were, but I remember a lot, all thanks to you. You helped put the pieces back together and for that, I will forever be grateful."
Witwer gave a little nod of his head. "So, then. I'll just get right to it. Why are you here?"
Shalee's shoulders rose as she inhaled a deep breath then slowly exhaled. "Because I can't trust anyone else with what I am about to tell you. I think that anyone else might try to tell me that I am crazy... but if I hear it from you, then I know it is so." A soft smile curled the corners of her mouth.
"Ha. All right then. Let me hear it," he said with a gracious sway of his hand.
"I don't know how to say it really. I mean, I fear that when I say the words they will sound insane. Actually. I know that they will sound insane. But, anyhow, I have to tell someone. My daughter, Gia? She... she sees things. She knows things that she can't possibly know. She's nine, for Jove's sake! She's a child, and yet, almost daily now she is telling me the most outlandish things. But the scary part is that... it all comes true."
A single brow lifted. "Give me an example of what she's told you."
"I can give you several. It started off simple, really. She'd tell me small things, like Tiger was getting her a new puppy. We hadn't discussed it, but out of the blue, he brings her home a new little slaver hound. I assumed he had told her prior but he hadn't. He was almost disappointed that he hadn't surprised her with it."
"Little things became bigger things. She has always been artistic, loving to draw and paint. She became obsessed with Thebeka III, weeks before the uprising. At the time, I had no idea how she'd even heard of Thebeka or Orlon Zashev, but she continued to paint his picture over and over. She drew many sketches of the battles, from both land and space. She documented it in her artwork weeks before the first uprising. She... she just knew."
Witwer rubbed his hand over his chin, listening. "I can understand how this would be unsettling for you. Continue."
"It frightened me, of course. I mean, how could she know these things? But, it didn't stop there. There were other events and I just... didn't know what to do. It wasn't like I could tell anyone. If anyone should find out about her ability, then I fear they would use it against her. I didn't even tell Tiger."
He nodded with understanding.
"So then. A week ago, I walked into her room and it was filled from floor to ceiling with macabre paintings of Tiger and I. They were dark and horrible. Ghastly, bloody things that made me sick to my stomach. Every painting was littered with corpses and blood. We were wearing the Sani Sabik ritual robes. I held the sacramental dagger over so many bodies, dripping with blood. It was the most horrific thing I had ever seen. And Gia, my poor daughter, had painted until she was in a frenzy. Her eyes were wild and frantic and she was begging me to make it go away, just to make it all go away. All of these horrible things were stuck in her head and she couldn't stop seeing them."
"What did you do?"
"What could I do? I packed our bags and left. I took my daughter and ran as far away as I could from Tiger."
"Do you think he has returned to the Sani Sabik?" Witwer asked carefully, knowing that the Sani Sabik was a sensitive subject for her.
"No. Not at the time. Our life was idyl. Though we were living in hiding, we were together and happy. I had made peace with the fact that someone had stolen my body and my life and was living as me in Huola. I didn't care that someone had my Holding or impersonated me—as long as I had my daughter and husband, everything would have been fine forever."
She wet her lips nervously. "But what was I supposed to do? If I stayed with Tiger, then those horrific images were bound to come to true. Every other event that she had ever seen had come to pass. What would have changed to make this vision not true? My poor darling girl was tormented by what she was seeing."
"So you left."
"Yes. I left. I left and divorced him and put as much distance as I could between us. I hurt him deeply and he didn't even know why. But... how could I not protect my daughter?"
"I believe most mothers would have done the same in your position."
She nodded, feeling slightly better after confiding. "The thing that stood out in those paintings and drawings was a date. It was etched on the blade."
"Almost a year from now. I feel like... if I can just keep him away from me for a year, then perhaps I can change what is supposed to happen. If I'm not with him, then I cannot become his Red Queen and we can't return to the Sani Sabik. I can change everything if he just stays away from me, no matter how hard it is."
"What happened with Gia after you left?"
"That's the thing. She's calmed down and she's begun to paint other things. She hasn't said anything about Tiger or the Sani at all. So... I can't help but believe that I have changed the course of history."
Witwer stared at her for a long moment.
"I suppose this is the part where you tell me that I'm crazy," Shalee said as she bit her bottom lip.
"No. Not at all."
"You believe me then?" she asked, her face etched with surprise.
"Yes. I do. There are far more unexplained occurrences in the galaxies than we could even possibly begin to count."
"So, you believe that she is truly seeing the future?"
"Possibly, yes. We travel through space, we bend time to our will. We are capable of traveling impossible distances, moving from one body to another in the blink of an eye. Who is to say that Gia isn't attuned to some other time-frequency?"
Shalee exhaled a long breath of relief. "Do you think that it is possible that I can change the future, then?"
"It seems that way, but honestly, I haven't the foggiest. Give me some time and I will investigate some old research papers. I'll talk to some people and see what I can find out."
She nodded. "All right. But... I suppose that I don't have to say that no one can know about this. Things were already complicated before all of this happened. We were hiding from her father and hiding from the Imposter. I don't want to add to that list."
Witwer nodded, "No problem. Of course, you can count on me."
She smiled, "Thanks, doc. I appreciate it."
Her life had almost been perfect since Vlad Cetes had left Garst Tyrell's employee and smuggled her daughter out of null sec, far away from Garst's reach. Shalee had joined Vlad at his estate and reunited with her daughter, and then her husband had joined them. Together, they moved away from Vlad's estate to one of their own, one far away from Imperial space.
Days turned into months as the trio lived an idyllic life, and Shalee had almost forgotten what it was like to live in Huola in the Bleak Lands, to run her Holding, and to fight for the Empire within the Amarrian Militia. None of it had mattered because everything that was dear to her was under one roof.
And suddenly, that all changed when her daughter began to have unexplainable visions. Her eerie predictions came true and when Gia saw a possible future for Shalee and Tiger within the Sani Sabik, a moment in time that was supposed to happen in a year... that was one thing that she would not allow to come to pass.
Her life shattered like a cracked mirror, broken beyond repair.
It was an impulsive, gut-wrenching thing to do, to take her daughter in the middle of the night and run far away from him. But, what other option did she have? How could she prevent something so horrific if she stayed with the man that she loved?
No. She would leave him and the new life that they had built together, no matter the cost. Her daughter was more important.
It was a foolish hope, but... but maybe, after a year had passed, perhaps she could return to him. Perhaps he would understand why she had done what she had done. Perhaps he would take her back and forgive her for crushing his heart.