This is the diary & short stories of Shalee Lianne Cerra, in the fictitious universe, New Eden, in the game of Eve Online. Come be a part of her world...

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Private Recording File Three

Waves rolled in gently, foaming as they rushed over pebbles and shells, and then retreated, only to repeat the process over and over. Ribbons of light began to appear on the horizon, casting a blood-red glow onto the watery surface. The shore felt deceptively safe as she walked along in the early morning, enjoying the peace and quiet. Though Cerra guards followed at a discreet distance, she barely took note of them. She paused at the water's edge and stared out at the endless ocean, lost in thought.

The fatalistic pall she'd been under lifted a bit, allowing her to breathe easier. It had been over a month since the Deathglow attacks on the planet of her Holding, House Cerra, on Huola VII. The attacks came without warning or provocation, but thankfully, her people were prepared and had suffered few casualties. It wasn't the first time that House Cerra had come under direct attack. Years past, her Holding was the target of a horrific Blood Raider massacre during the Crimson Harvest. So many had died, the streets ran red with the spilled blood of her people, the Cerra Cathedral had been painted red with the blood of her slain clergy.

The harvest had been horrific, but they had recovered, and in the process had learned a valuable lesson. Preparation was key. Cerra Holding would never ever be caught off guard again. They adjusted and they rebuilt. The Holding implemented new security measures and after the Deathglow attacks on Oris, the Holding readied itself in case something so macabre should ever take place in the Bleak Lands. Underground bunkers and tunnels were created with air filtration systems, they added additional security drones and laser turrets to cover the spaceport and landing pads, deployed shield emitters, and raised the 1st Cerra Guards semi-professional military regiment.

Previously, Deathglow had been used against capsuleers who spoke out against Alar Chakaid and the Khanid Kingdom, or so the theory went. Shalee hadn't been all too worried—she was far removed from anything Khanid related. Her House had always been informally a vassal to Sarum, though after Empress Catniz's declaration on the 3rd anniversary of her coronation that ordered a rearrangement of the territorial and military fiefs overseen by the Royal Houses of the Privy Council, House Cerra officially became a Sarum vassal.

Shalee was thrown off guard when Lord Sarum, Sword Marshal of the Imperial Military Circuit of House Sarum, issued a priority order for the full reclaiming of the population of Flosewin IV for labor acquisition, aka, new slaves, along with the reclaiming of Arzad.

The troubling decree worried many within the Empire. As unfortunate as it was, slavery was a pillar of the Amarr, though it was illegal to take new slaves unless they were prisoners of war or criminals. Many felt the Sarum decree was unjust, illegal, even. Noble houses begged the Empress to intervene and put a stop to Sarum's madness. A bold petition with countless supporters went ignored.

The decree stood.

Huola VII was attacked by Deathglow though no one claimed credit.

The battle for Flosewin ensued.

The red skies of Flosewin became dotted with the hulls of warring fleets. Those who stood against slavery came far and wide to stop the reclaiming, even pilots from the Gallente militia.

Shalee was caught in the middle. As a Sarum vassal who was also in the Amarr Militia, she was duty-bound to follow orders and reclaim, to focus her efforts on Flosewin and Arzad. However, she quietly ignored it, hoping to go unnoticed in the fray. She had secretly given orders to her pilots to stay out of the mix. It worked for a while until somehow, House Cerra caught the attention of Ushra'Khan's leader, Harkon Thorson.

Thorson had made a public decree, stating that he would fight in Flosewin and would deploy secret agents to destroy Holdings on Flosewin... and Houla VII.

House Cerra was the largest, longest-standing, and most notable Holding on Huola VII.

Knowing that there might be an agent in the midst, she had everyone checked, and double-checked. A terrorist was found hiding in the refugees that she'd taken in from Octanneve Hurricanes.

Security was increased tenfold, both by Cerra troops and allies who offered support.

A message had to be sent. A public one. Shalee had given the orders and broadcasted the execution, sending a warning to Thorson. So far, it had worked. There hadn't been any new attempts on her Holding, though her people were still on high alert.

The origins of the Deathglow attack remain unknown.

Shalee glanced up at the hovering drone, "Record. Private File."

"There are so many events and people to remember, it's going to be a chore to record everything. I guess that I will pick up from where I left off on the last recording."

"Before my return to Huola, when I lived solely in the Federation, I met some people that would seem wholly unsuitable judged by an Amarrian's standards. But, as anyone who knows me well, they know that reputation and allegiance has never really stopped me from talking to interesting people."

"When I met Edward, I happened upon him at Cafe Marlinea as he was chatting with Vlad. I interrupted their conversation, and Vlad introduced us. Honestly, the initial meeting was mostly forgettable. There wasn't anything that drew him to me. I had mostly forgotten about him, and then we happened to run into one another again later on. He invited me to share his table, and so I did. We spoke of all sorts of things, places that we had traveled, and I mentioned that I hadn't visited Hueromont, a place he had spoken highly of. He said that he would show me around some time, and I agreed."

"I almost had forgotten about it, assuming it was one of those lets-say-that-we-will-do-a-thing-but-never-do kind of invitations. I assumed that he was just being polite."

"Plus. He has this ridiculous mustache and the longest call sign known to New Eden. I mean, who chooses MantelGlobelIndustries for a call sign?"

"Anyhow. He did mail me an invitation, but I became rather busy and didn't respond for weeks. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me, and I responded. He seemed sincere and safe, all things considered."

"Before we had a chance to go out to dinner, we met again. Suddenly, he was just... there, at the coffee house or wherever I might be. I started to enjoy his company, probably a little too much. At the time, I had this nagging feeling that he might have been working for Tiger, spying on me for him. That is how much time we had started spending together. I kept Edward at arm's length, determined to know his true motives. I came up with a plan. If Edward kissed me then I would know for certain that he wasn't working for Tiger, because Tiger would never allow it."

"So... it happened. He kissed me."

"After that incendiary moment, my assumptions had gotten the better of me. I was so foolish and a bit naive. I had assumed that it had meant something, that it was the beginning of something wonderful. That I meant something to him."

"It's complicated, really. I still loved Tiger, of course, but I knew that I couldn't be with him. And the distraction of Edward, charming, darling, Edward, was too much to resist."

"I let my guard down and he got close. I confided in a friend the following day about that amazing kiss, only to be warned about Edward's proclivities of chasing women as conquests. I didn't want to believe it, it seemed so farfetched and so different from the man that I had come to know. Edward was so endearing, sweet, and thoughtful. I 'casually' asked another friend about him and was met with the same response, 'Yes, he's a womanizer, I thought that you knew.'"

"I did not."

"You would think that learning my lesson about Edward would have taught me a lesson, but no. Apparently, I never learn. Instead of swearing off notorious men, his betrayal sent me straight into the arms of another."

A secretive smile curled her lips, "But that might be a story too dangerous to record..."

She flicked her gaze towards the heavens as the morning sun rose in the distance. "End recording."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Private Recording File Two

Kisana, Devoid
Mehatoor VI - 24th Imperial Crusade Logistic Support
Amarr Empire
Date: 1-2-122

A recording drone hovered slightly above Shalee as she waited in her personal hangar in the Mehatoor station. Though the fleet was still forming, she had plenty of time to kill before she had to board her Harbinger. She sat outside of her pod wearing a form-fitting pod suit that molded to her skin. Her hair hung loosely about her shoulders, falling in soft curls down her back. The familiar calming voice of Fleet Commander Arsia Elkin flowed through her implants in one of the many channels that she was monitoring. Shalee flicked her gaze down the fleet list noting that they were mostly LUMEN pilots with a couple of others that she recognized from elsewhere. Kyle Saltz's name stood out to her. CVA. She would have never imagined a day that she'd be in the same fleet with their ilk, especially since they had once set her red for attacking a neutral warship in her warzone. Their policies were maddening at times. But, she had met Kyle once and despite his CVA affiliation, she thought that he was rather nice, all things considered.

She absently twisted her fingers through her long hair, "Record."

She silenced her comms channel and every other digital transmission that flowed in steady streams through her implants.

"Right. So where were we? Remembering the past and recording a digital diary in case something else should happen to my memories, I think. Okay. So. The Imposter. I still don't know who is behind my clone theft. All I know is that the Imposter stole my life for nearly two years, at least... and I still don't know their motives."

"After I was resurrected in a backup clone, I spent a lot of time in hiding. It was too dangerous to live in Imperial space, especially if I had been caught. She was the 'legal' one, and I would have been considered an imposter. Funny, that. Slowly, I made contact with a few of those whom I trusted without a doubt. I contacted Thal Vadam, Reginald Sakikbara, and Tiger. Thal had once had sworn himself to my protection and my House. Reginald had been my Lord Adjutant, and Tiger... well. He had been my husband. Though the three had been aware that the Imposter wasn't really me, they knew little else. No one knew what the Imposter was up to or what her end goal might have been."

"Eventually, Vlad Cetes found me, oddly enough. It wasn't that surprising, really. He had become a near-constant in my life since my becoming a capsuleer. He even kidnapped Gia away from her father and left No Mercy simply so that I could be reunited with my daughter. Though I have never understood his motives for befriending me, he has always proven his loyalty without fail. It makes little sense, but I've learned not to question it. I know that he will protect me."

"Anyhow, Tiger, Gia, and I lived a quiet life planetside for a very long time. And then, as I mentioned in my previous recording, Gia and I left. I won't revisit that topic for now."

"I had the house built in Charmerout within the Federation and was mostly content, but there was still this part of me that wanted to know why. Why was my life stolen? Who was she? From all accounts and purposes, the Imposter simply lived my life much as I had. Sort of. Sometimes she would fly with Amarr, sometimes not. What I had noticed was how close she was connected with Reginald. Granted, Reginald was her/my Lord Adjutant, so it made sense. But another part of me always wondered if he had something to do with it. To what avail, I don't know. When you've been betrayed by the people who are supposed to love you the most, you can't help but to develop a natural skepticism. I'm wary of those closest to me, always. My entire life has been centered around people using me for their own purposes."

"Regardless. I trust Reginald. I do. He promised that he would neutralize the threat of the Imposter. Granted, I wanted answers too, but having her TCCM'ed was better than nothing. It allowed me to slip back into the role that I was born to. I was able to reclaim my Holding and rejoin Amarrian society. It wasn't an easy task to be thrust into the world of Imperial politics and intrigue once more, but with Reginald's help, the transition went relatively smooth. Also, it helped by confiding in Lunarisse, who now helps run the LUMEN alliance."

"There was a time there that I thought I might not go back. It was easy living in Charmerout. No one cared what I did or who I associated with. I was relatively free to be as I wanted, something that had always been denied to me before. Growing up a Holder's daughter, there were always expectations. The price of Imperial Nobility is a loss of certain freedoms. You're always under the eye of family, society, and the inquisition. After becoming a capsuleer, I was used as an Imperial spy, an agent thrown to the Minmatar wolves, nearly devoured, all in the name of God and Empress. But that, too, is for another recording, least I get sidetracked. Anyhow."

"Living in the Federation meant freedom, and I almost, almost had it. I could have stayed there, blissfully unaware of what turmoil was churning in the Empire. I wanted to! Oh, how desperately I wanted to. But there was one singular thing that pulled me back in, one moment of realization that spoke so deeply to my soul, of who I was at my core, that irrevocably changed the course of my life and sent me back home into the golden skies of the Amarr."

"It was this post on the IGS. In it, Samira shredded the Empire and everything it stood for. She pointed out the flaws of slavery and of blind devotion to a religion that has long lost its way. She was insightful and thought-provoking. She said that we must tear it all down and rebuild, and I agreed with almost everything that she said. But, I also knew that it would be the height of foolishness to publicly agree. The Amarrians would only counter-argue, and everyone else would make a mockery out of it."

"She has the right ideas but not the means to do anything about it. She's been branded a heretic long ago for her role in the bombing of Alar Chakaid's home Sa-Barony. She's on the outside of things, so how can she possibly bring forth any change? She simply can't. No Amarrian will listen to her, and the people who might agree with her on the IGS are merely rabble-rousers who are powerless within the golden realm."

"Only those with true power and means will bring forth change in the Amarrian Empire. It won't be an easy path, but it will be one that I shall tread, delicately so. And I can only help if I am there, in the midst of the Imperial Sphere. Thus, I returned to Huola and reclaimed my Holding and my title, Lady Cerra, for better or worse."

"Returning was harder than I thought. I had made certain friends while living among the Feds, and suddenly I knew that those friendships would be scrutinized if they should be found out about. It's a difficult line to walk but one that must be done. If the inquisitors should ever find out, I could lose everything, not just my Holding and position, but my very life."

"Two minutes until undock, let's go, let's go, people," Arsia's muted voice over comms captured her attention.

She huffed out a breath as she straightened up, rubbing her fingers absently against her clone jacks at the base of her neck. Butterflies did somersaults in the pit of her stomach, pre-fight jitters that she hadn't experienced in years. She wasn't even sure if their fleet would be engaged or if it would merely stand guard to the Amarrian Raitaru that they would be protecting... from a different Amarrian corporation. The politics in the Amarrian Militia felt like wading through muddy waters at times.

"Undock, undock, undock!"

"I'll finish this later. End recording."

The screen faded to black as the holographic image of the golden Amarrian symbol flashed into view.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Private Recording File One

A drone hovers nearby.


A blinking light flashes as the drone swirls, getting into position, floating just above her head. It brings Shalee into focus, blurring out the edges of the landscape—a moonlit beach somewhere on the outskirts of the Federation. The shore is empty save for Shalee sitting by herself, knees pulled up to her chest. She stares out at the ever-moving water, watching the waves rolling over the shore.

"I've been seeing Dr. Witwer more and more these days; he has become one of my most trusted confidants. He knows everything about me, more than I even know about myself. That is the problem with memory loss... you simply don't remember so many things—little things that have happened to mold you into the person that you've become. As with any capsuleer, it is bound to happen. One too many clone jumps and the edges of memories become frayed. That is the natural course of events. But in my case, I've been shuffled around so much that my memories are distorted, fragmented into pieces that I try to fit back together so that I can truly know who I am."

"Remember, he says. Write it down. Record it. Not only the stuff that has passed but things that happen now. I suppose that makes sense. Keep a record in case this should happen again because this isn't the first time that I've suffered memory distortion. As they say, history has a way of repeating itself."

"So, here I am. It's new year's day in the cluster. I am in Chamerout, alone, and ready to delve into the events of this past year, to record the important things that I should remember."

She rubs her hands over her face. Though she is biologically twenty-nine, her clone has the youthful appearance of someone who looks barely twenty. An errant strand of strawberry-blonde hair flutters in front of her face from the soft ocean breeze. She had a lavish home built planetside for her daughter and herself on a water world in the system of Chamerout, part of Essence-- Gallente Federation space. The multi-layered dwelling is housed on an island that she owns. The two-storied dwelling silhouettes the backdrop, all glass, and natural materials, lights pour from the windows, illuminating the beach. It is completely private save for the team of trusted staff and security guards who also live on the island.

"I don't even know where to begin. How far back do I go? I think... I know the most important thing to remember is my daughter. Her name is Gianna, but I call her Gia. She is nine and the most precious thing in my life. I have never felt love as deeply as I do for my child. It's almost indescribable. Her father is Garst Tyrell, someone I knew a long time ago when we were both young pilots flying for PIE."

She falls silent, staring out to sea. The pale moon hangs suspended over the ocean, the glowing orb casting a buttery path of light across the smooth surface.

"It's complicated... but isn't it always? Garst was..." whatever she might have said dies on the tip of her tongue. "It doesn't matter now. He is far away from the Imperial sphere, out in null sec building his own empire. I have Gia, thanks to the help of Vlad Cetes, who helped smuggle her out of his control."

"Despite having woken up over two years ago in an old backup clone because someone had stolen my identity, I found a measurement of happiness. I reunited with my husband, Tiger, and my daughter was brought to me. The three of us lived planetside for well over a year. Though an imposter lived my life as a capsuleer, I was content. Our life together as a little family was enough for me. The matters of the Empire, my old comrades and friends, and my Holding... none of it seemed to matter while we were in hiding. It was a blissful existence."

She falls silent for a moment, lost in reverie.

"Until it wasn't. Until I realized that my daughter wasn't like other little girls. Gia has some sort of extraordinary gift where she glimpses the future. She can see things... she knows things. And sometimes it overwhelms her. It's like, it's stuck in her head and she doesn't know what to do with it. She draws some of her visions. But no matter what... they always come true."

"She envisioned a horrific future for Tiger and me. She was obsessed with the notion that he would return to the Sani Sabik and take me with him. She saw a ritual... and a massacre. So much blood. I couldn't control Gia when I found her in her room, painting this bloodcurdling scene over and over. I didn't know what to do... and so I left. I took my daughter and we left in the middle of the night while he slept."

Her eyes have a faraway glint as she continues her story.

"We ran away... I'm good at running away. I did it before when I ran from my father's home and joined a close-knit band of mercenaries. But that story is for another day."

"Anyhow. I took Gia and hid away in the Federation as I divorced Tiger. I had to. I wanted to put as much space between us as possible. My foolish thought was that I was saving him from that certain dark fate, but it seems that I've just pushed him straight into the arms of the Sani. By my leaving, I set us on a new path where he isn't guided by his Amarrian ideals, nor is he reined in by my love and his desire to please me. His new path is paved in red, dotted with the blood that he no doubt spills in his Sani Sabik rituals."

"He is exactly where I never wanted him to be... and yet, I feel like it is all my fault."

She huffs out a breath as she fusses with her hair, pushing the windblown strands out of her face. "He returned to Thakala, a place where he used to live when he was heavily involved with the Sani before we ever had met. It's complicated, the things that happened next. There was a letter from someone at Thakala, actually, two of them. One from a servant or someone who claimed that Tiger was being held against his will, another from his sister who said that Tiger was right where he wanted to be."

"I didn't know what to do. I knew that I couldn't just go to Thakala myself to save him, it was entirely too dangerous. My Lord Adjutant, Reginald Sakakibara warned me that it could be a ploy of some sort, a way to capture me and keep me there. No one trusts him any longer. Everyone warned me against trying to go to Thakala, so I asked an old friend if she would go in my place. It was the biggest mistake of my life. Sahriah Bloodstone is no friend, not like I thought she might have been. With the memory loss, I sometimes have these ideas of who people are—I piece together fragmented memories and glimpses of things to form an opinion and sometimes I get it wrong, I guess. I remembered Sahriah from my early days in the militia. I remember flying with her in No Mercy in null-sec. And I remembered her being Tiger's friend. I thought that she might have been a friend to me, too, but oh how I was wrong."

"I thought she would help him escape Thakala but instead, she went there and embedded herself into his household. She became his 'prathet', which is a title within their Sani Sabik sect. Tiger has claimed to be the new 'Shira', which is the sect leader."

"Instead of bringing him out of Thakala like I asked, she remained and helped him resurrect Revan Neferis's coven. He was once her prathet, until she disowned him. Now, he has supposedly surpassed Revan. The servant has become the master."

"Except... except I don't truly believe that to be the case. The thing is, Tiger doesn't have the capability to do such a thing. His power has always been the reflection of a strong woman guiding his hand. At first, it was Revan, and then it was me. He is like a moon reflecting sunlight, never shining on his own."

"And, now? Now it is Sahriah. He may call himself the Shiras, but he is not in control. She has all the real power, and he can't even see it, he's so blinded by his lust for glory and control that he doesn't realize Sahriah is right there, siphoning every bit of it away when he is distracted."

"And, oh, how he truly does distract himself. Despite his continuous declarations of love for me, he beds without abandon. He sates his pleasure with any woman who will have him."

"He hasn't changed. He is still the same man that he was before he met me, a man who is wholly and utterly devoted to the Sani Sabik, who lies and beguiles to get what he wants, at any price. Since the divorce, he has shown his true colors. He has threatened my friends, family, and any man that he suspects me of seeing. And.. he has deeply hurt me, not just emotionally, but physically. Not just once, but twice."

She absently rubs her hand against her throat, her fingertips graze over the fading bruises caused by him trying to choke her the previous night in a violent rage.

"Never trust him again."

"End recording."

She accesses the file and adds two mails for further proof. The date, 9.29, catches her eye. A smile curls her lip as she realizes she sent another letter on that fateful day, one that has irrevocably changed her life... for better or worse, is yet to be decided.

From: Tigerfish Torpedo
Sent: 2019.09.24 17:08
To: Shalee Lianne Cerra,  

Lord knows I'm trying to understand. Some days it's harder than others. Other days I just feel an overwhelming sense of rage...
To think I was going to blackmail you with the lives of all your former servants and friends from Huola...  but...  that wasn't how I wanted you to remember me. I would so easily do anything to get you back.
All my love,

From: Shalee Lianne Cerra
Sent: 2019.09.29 18:34
To: Tigerfish Torpedo,  

Dear Tiger,
Gia's vision was very specific and thankfully is able to be traced to a specific date. I know that it makes little sense to you, but I have to heed its warning. I have to do everything in my power to keep that possible future from coming to pass. I care for you deeply, my love for you hasn't dissipated nor faded. I care enough about you to leave you. I know that it is hard to accept, but it has to be this way. I can't imagine a world where you return to your Sani Sabik roots, bringing both myself and my daughter into the bloodbath of your former religion.
It's ironic, isn't it? I left you to spare you, and yet a part of me feels as if by leaving, you are tempted to fall back into that world of darkness that you once ruled. Your previous letters hint at that possibility. How can you even think for one moment that by threatening to harm servants or friends would cause me to rush back in your arms? Yes. You know me well, and know that I would go out of my way to save those innocent souls that you threaten. But, is that how you desire my return? By force and coercion? Is your desire to possess me so strong that you will employ such horrible methods to have me?
That can't be what you want.
I am sure that your 'love, affection, loyalty, and fidelity' were genuine after we married. But, a part of me can never forget the tangled relationships that you were involved in mere hours before our impromptu marriage. Those vows that we spoke that day did not erase the years of hurt that I have suffered at your hand nor the countless times that I had discovered your infidelity and had been subjected to utter humiliation, believing that you loved only me and wanted to be with only me. 
As you've had time to reflect, so have I. I've thought about it all, the good and bad, the lies and deceit. My thoughts are constantly churning, wondering if what you say is true, that we would have faced Gia's visions together. You expect a lot from me, some unwavering trust that I had given you when we first met- when I first gave you my heart. You broke that, Tiger. You did that all on your own.
Yes, I had forgiven you for the many transgressions, but I had never forgotten them. And when push came to shove, no, I couldn't trust that you would not betray me again.
I hope that this letter brings you some sort of understanding as to why I have made the decisions that I have.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Little Things

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.

Dear Shalee,
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."

Witwer nodded.

"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.

If only.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wishes and Wants

Station lights dimmed inside of the Chaven Imperial Gardens as a lone man wearing an Imperial Navy Commander's uniform took a seat beside Shalee Lianne Cerra, keeping the hood of his cloak pulled low to cover his face. "Hello, Cadet Cerra."

Shalee sideglanced as someone took a seat beside her. Though his face was obscured, of course, she recognized the voice—deep and robotic sounding. Her voice was flat and without emotion. "Vlad."

"The time for that is not here, not now. We must speak somewhere private."

She gave a glance around the expansive, empty garden, "We are alone."

Vlad consulted a pop-up chart, showing an all-clear electronic signature scan. "Very well."

"How did you find me?" she asked as she turned to face him.

"The Academy Directory. Really, did allowing that full name to be published sound like a good idea? Anyone with half decent tracking skills can and will find you."

"You're assuming that anyone out there is looking for me. But I am curious... why were you searching for me?"

"Because one Shalee Lianne disappears from No Mercy and then returns in Shadow Cartel. And one Shalee Lianne Cerra is an academy student. Along with the disappearances of Kenzi Lianne and Tigerfish Torpedo. Something is ill afoot and we intend to find out."

Shalee stared at him, her thoughts a whirl. She had assumed that she was safe in high-sec, far from the grasp of anyone who might seek her out or harm her. "Why do you even care?"

"Because it is our job to investigate possible threats," he answered in that deep monotone voice of his.

"Threats to who?" she asked as she turned away from him, her gaze unfocused on the viewport in front of her.

"Our charge. Until we can verify who you truly are, that is all that can be said."

Shalee slashed her eyes to the right, looking directly at him. "You have my daughter?"

"We can neither confirm nor deny."

"You don't have to. You just did. I don't know who else your charge would be that would concern me. Where is she?"

"In a safe place. There are factors that are far beyond just one person at play here."

"I don't care about your factors. I want to see my daughter, dammit! She belongs to me, not you."

"She belongs to Garst Tyrell equally, who has entrusted her care to us."

Shalee inhaled a deep breath, trying to stay calm and relaxed despite every fiber of her being wanting to scream at the machine sitting beside her. He had no idea how she felt, being apart from her own daughter for so long. "Fine. Ask your employer to give me back my child. He shouldn't care now... he is busy with his ever-lasting wars, from what I hear. He doesn't have time to be a real father to her."

"No. Because right now, we have no idea what you really are."

"What do you think I am?" Her brow rose.

"We do not know, and that is why you cannot have access. For all the proof that is out, you could be another Kenzi."

"You have no right to keep her from me."

"Once everything is verified, visitation can be arranged." Vlad withdrew a syringe seemingly out of thin air. "Fortunately for you, there should be a way to tell.

"And how do you propose to verify..." her voice trailed off as she noticed the syringe.

"Sleeping sedative should put you under with no ill effects. Strange things happened when Shalee Lianne slept. We propose to test it."

"Absolutely not!" She stood and put distance between them. "Why would you drug me?"

"Because we need you to sleep."

She threaded her fingers through her auburn hair, sighing. "Here? No. I am not falling asleep in a public area. I think I know what you're trying to do, but I won't reveal that part of me here, out in the open. You're asking for me to trust you. I have no reason to think that you wouldn't harm me."

"Do you want to see your daughter?"

"More than anything. But, I am not making myself that vulnerable to you. Not without someone else present, at least."


"Only one person knows I am here. Reginald."

"No. Possible involvement."

Shalee searched her memory, trying to remember who she could trust. The hazy image of an Imperial Templar came into focus. "Thal." Thal had always been there for her when she resided on Huola.

"Possible. Although he may behave irrationally."

Her brow quirked at the mention of Thal behaving irrationally. "I trust the Templar... I can contact him. He will help me. I know he will."

"Have you studied tunnel communications yet?" He asked as he glanced around. "Do you have access to the fluid router training capsules?"


"Would you be willing to connect to a highly encrypted channel and then be sedated by medical personnel here?"

Shalee hesitated for a long moment, then nodded. "Only if you swear that I will see my daughter after we are finished."

"Once you are cleared, you may see her."

She shook her head. "I still don't feel comfortable doing this alone. I need Thal to be here."

"Very well. If that is what you wish."

"What I wish is to see my daughter," she said stubbornly.

"What matters is keeping her alive," he countered.

Shalee nodded, giving a sigh of resignation. Though she wasn't happy about it, she knew that it was in Vlad's best interest to keep Gia safe. "I agree."

"I will be in touch soon. There are more than enough enemies that want her dead for propaganda or spite," he warned.

"So I hear, not that Garst believes it, I'm sure. He thinks he can keep her safe with half of New Eden breathing down his neck? Our daughter will be safest with me, here, in Empire space."

"A cadet? Keep her safe? Considering the.. track record that various Holdings in the Empire have on keeping her safe, we highly doubt it."

Shalee tilted her head to the side, "I don't care what you doubt. I want my daughter. She needs me. Once I hear from Thal, I will be in touch."

"Very well. Do bear in mind, this is not the only angle we are investigating. Although we will not mention your existence here."

"Thank you," she said, just before he left.

A chill of unease snaked down her spine as she watched him disappear beyond the garden doors. Her life had been entangled with Vlad's since she had first become a capsuleer. Of course, he would find her. Of course, he would still be in service to Garst Tyrell. Of course, he would have access to her daughter. It seemed that fate would never unravel their destiny, that someway, somehow, he would always be a force within her life.

She activated her neo-comm and sent a message to Thal.

From: Shalee Lianne Cerra
To: Templar Thal Vadam, 
I desperately need your help. Please, tell no one of this letter, not even me, if you should see me face to face. I know that it makes little sense, but I am reluctant to explain it over communications.
Can you meet with me?


Re: Encrypted
From: Templar Thal Vadam
To: Shalee Lianne Cerra, 
Shalee receives a short reply of only four words, but words she might find familiar.
"As My Lady wishes."

(The above post is an edited roleplay with Vlad Cetes, the letters are from Thal Vadam)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Lose Myself In Reverie

Solar System: Chaven
Region: Domain
Constellation: Parud
Security Level: 1.0
Location: Imperial Academy Space Station

Voices echoed in the back of her mind as old memories hovered on the edge of her subconscience, fighting for dominance. It was always this way after a session with Dr. Witwer—a brilliant scientist specializing in clone memory retrieval. He had helped her years before, putting the pieces back together after a Blood Raider had kidnapped her for a blood farm.

This time was different. This time her memories had lain dormant in an illegal base clone in the deep recesses of null-sec while an imposter hijacked her body and had assumed her life. Kept in a drugged comatose state, her memories began to erode as the days bled into months. 

More than a year had passed when she had awoken in a clone retrieved by her most entrusted employee, Elisen. Elisen explained that she had known something was wrong when the Imposter left the No.Mercy corporation and abandoned her daughter in null-sec. 

The Imposter had fooled most everyone, but Elisen knew better. The Imposter underestimated the love Shalee had for her daughter—she simply wouldn't have left Gia with her father, Garst Tyrell. She certainly wouldn't have left null-sec to return to her Holding in the Bleak Lands without her child.

Shalee had never concerned herself with Imperial Court, and would never put the Empire above her child. She had left her life in the militia and the Empire behind to fight in Tyrell's wars, a heavy price to pay to keep her child safe—not that Garst would allow their child to leave his protection. 

It was inconceivable that Shalee would just walk away and pretend that Gia didn't exist.

There were other clues. Shalee's husband, Tigerfish Torpedo, had also dropped out of the public eye. Elisen had tried to contact him to no avail. She even tried to gain an audience with the Imposter but she had refused a meeting. Too many things simply didn't add up.

Elisen wouldn't let it go. Though she was a scientist by heart, she stepped out of her comfort zone and joined the Amarrian Militia in an attempt to get closer to those Shalee had flown with in the past. It was breadcrumbs, but it was all she had. For months, she stayed on the fringes of the Militia, quietly observing those who might unknowingly offer any information on the real Shalee's whereabouts. 

Elisen's break happened a little over a month ago, when Red woke her up screaming, frantically projecting into her bedroom in the middle of the night. Red was the subconscious manifestation of Shalee when she slept. She projected her avatar as a child with long red ringlet curls. The child was able to manifest in any virtual realm and usually used holoprojectors to reach people in reality. It was a part of Shalee that was clever and inquisitive, though very young—that innocent part of herself that lived before her mother died, before she had learned that her father and brothers were Sani Sabik. Red was Shalee's way of dreaming in reality, and when she awoke, she never remembered what Red had been up to. It was almost as Red was becoming her own entity.

Red had been trapped in Shalee's comatose mind until one quick moment where a mind-scan had been completed and a distracted clone technician had let the connection linger a moment too long. It was enough time for Red to break free from her virtual prison and broadcast out into the universe. She first tried Tiger despite not trusting the former Sani Sabik. She knew that he would save Shalee, but she was unable to reach him. Every portal from the past that she'd ever used to virtually spy upon him was blocked. She then tried Elisen, projecting into the woman's bedroom, shouting off the location where Shalee was being kept hidden away in a generic clone.

The rest was easy. Retrieving Shalee from an illegal cloning facility had been much easier than she would have thought possible. The next part was easier still—having Shalee's subconscious transferred to a legal clone that had been stored in high-security space under her full name, Shalee Lianne Cerra. No one but Elisen had been privy to that one piece of information. The backup had been kept separate from her other medical and jump clones. After someone had tried to sabotage her memories in the past, Shalee had taken extra precautions.

It paid off.

"You're daydreaming again," Elisen said as she flicked her blue eyes to Shalee.

Shalee gave a sheepish smile, "Sorry. This happens every time after I see him."

"I know. But, Dr. Witwer is amazing. He will have you back to normal in no time at all."

"Yes, but until then it's... frustrating. I remember so much but everything is out of order. Fragmented. The memory erosion has really done a number."

"At least you haven't forgotten what is important," Elisen said knowingly.

A warm smile stretched across Shalee's mouth. "Gia."

"I have news..." Elisen locked her gaze with Shalee.

"Go on."

"Lord Sakakibara has joined Shadow Cartel."

Shalee furrowed her brows, "Why would he do such a thing?"

"Apparently, the Cartel is on deployment... to null-sec."

A shiver slithered a path down Shalee's spine. "Close to No.Mercy?"

"Yes. In fact, they have allied for Tyrell's war. I believe they are being paid. I think they are stationed in Detorid."

"That is wonderful. Perhaps Regi can get close enough to find out where they are keeping Gia."

"Perhaps. Though, do you really trust him?"

Shalee nodded. "I do. I don't have a choice, really. Reginald was once very important to me, and I to him. We have a deep history and I can't imagine that he would betray me. He knows me. He knows that I would be there for him if he needed me... and that is why I believe he will help me."

Elisen gave a curt nod. It wasn't her place to say otherwise.

"Were you able to access her mail?" Shalee asked, referring to the Imposter.

"Unfortunately not. However, I was able to retrieve some older messages. They still had your old encryption. I don't know how useful they will be. I have the last ones from Garst..."

Shalee searched her memory, trying to remember the last things he'd said to her. "Send them."

Elisen nodded. "Of course."

"I assume you have read them?" Shalee asked.



"It was long ago, but... Shalee. It is too easy to connect the dots."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Those letters are terribly damning. He straight up tells you that he will not allow Gia to leave him. He threatens you. The logical assumption is that he is the one responsible for everything. He could have been the one to orchestrate it all. Have 'you' replaced and sent back to Huola. Keep Gia in null-sec with him. And keep the real you locked up under lock and key in that clone. He could have even taken care of Tiger. He still hasn't been found. It makes perfect sense..."

Shalee chewed her bottom lip, her pale face lit with exhaustion and worry. "I... I don't know. We had come to an understanding. Things were fine between us. It is hard for me to conceive of the idea that Garst would go out of his way to orchestrate something so underhanded. He loves Gia... I don't think he would harm me because he knows that harming me would crush her. And anyhow, he is always so very busy with his wars, I can't imagine he would even bother."

Elisen shrugged lightly. "Perhaps. But, I don't trust him."

"Not many people do. But, then again, you don't trust anyone," Shalee said matter-of-factly.

Elisen sighed. "Read the mails. Once I have more information, I will be in contact. I am following up on a lead, though it might take me a while."

"Oh? With who?"


Shalee gasped. "Oh! Is he still in No.Mercy?"

"Yes. Right where you left him. If anyone can help, it will be him." Elisen grinned. 

"And maybe he knows where they are keeping Gia."

"Precisely what I was thinking." Elisen stood and smoothed her hands down the front of her jacket, straightening it. "Take care."

"I shall try."

After Elisen left, Shalee accessed her communications and read the forwarded transmissions that Elisen was able to retrieve from her old mail system.


I never thought you'd stick with No.Mercy for so long. I was reviewing the personnel dossiers and yours flagged for special attention as you are nearing your one-year retention mark. I've been giving it a lot of thought. You have to understand I normally don't discuss these things with the pilot in question... but we have a history. And out of respect for that history and what you have accomplished with us, despite your mistakes raising Gia, I have decided to retain you in my corp.

I like to think I can separate profession from my personal life, and normally I can, but you continue to vex me by being the exception that makes me question my adherence to the rule and my pride along with it. I confide this to you to specifically underscore the great expectations I continue to have for you, to the point that I'm willing to suffer a hit to my pride and suppress my longing for what we used to share while keeping you close. Outside of the few occasions I can let myself drink and lose myself in reverie, I know that you won't be getting back together with me, at least not in a way that I could accept....

But this decision is the (mostly) logical result of critical analysis of your performance with us. To be blunt we have better pilot aces and super capital commanders but you have developed your own niche, equally unique and important in your own way. You are one of the forces in my corp that encourages the other pilots to commit emotionally, to turn the corp from a military enterprise into a family of sorts. The net result is that they are more loyal to me, more willing to die when I need them to to, jump in a new clone and die again. You help to show them the big picture is more than just anyone fight, your presence encourages them to take the long view. It's a rare talent, and I am keen to nurture talent in my pilots.

It would be foolish to squander you as a corporate asset because of my own frustrations with you, and so I am renewing your contract. I'm currently 4 wine glasses and 3 revisions in, but out of my misguided longing for you, I find it impossible to not send this mail to you explaining how I came to this decision. 

Naturally, I expect you to keep this mail confidential between or I will terminate your clone and all corporate contracts. Then I will terminate you.

But it won't come to that because you are so adept at keeping secrets, and in some measure I trust you. God help me.



Once again your failure of imagination disgusts me. Try for one moment to overcome your biological instincts to coddle this child and think rationally. Gia is not a military target. No one is after her, certainly not the Reds. If you stop being selfish for one moment you would realize she is only in danger as a target of opportunity in the wrong place at the wrong time. The local pirates that are trying to strangle our supply lines back to Empire space would kill her simply because they wanted to strip the hull of its precious metals and she would be a minor inconvenience slowing them down. You know she is safe planetside, out of sight, out of mind. And there she will remain, stable in her quality of life, while we strangle the Reds. The further we push our enemies away from our home, the more white space we create... which means these phantom fleets you fear so much who would travel all the way across the galaxy just to murder our daughter will have a longer gauntlet to run to get to her.

The Imperials couldn't even protect their empress, so what happens when the Sansha or Drifters show up and burn everything? 

So the answer is a resounding no, no, a thousand times no and don't ever question my judgment like this again. It's unbecoming of an officer in my fleet and I'm running out of patience with you. Gia will stay safe in SAH and when she is old enough, she will join us on my flagship and I will spend each of my lives striving to be worthy of preparing her for her destiny. She is awaited.

Do try to control your emotions--you're better than this.


Shalee furrowed her brows. The mails were over a year old. But damn... she could see Elisen's point. 

I will terminate you.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Noble Origin

OOC note. I've decided to start RP blogging again—I've so missed it! The stories prior to this post are pretty old, but I'll try to finish out some of those loose-end story arcs in the future. Hopefully, anyhow!

As some of you might know, I gave the Shalee Lianne toon to a friend since I wasn't really playing EVE much at the time. The RP condition for the transfer was that the 'real' Shalee remains with me and that if he decided to RP Shalee, it would be an imposter. (not that anyone in the RP realm would know ICly)

So, here we are. The following post is my first RP since returning. I hope there are many more to come!<3 p="">


Shalee Lianne Cerra stood alone in a remote part of the Chaven Space Imperial Garden's wearing a white tunic and matching pants, with knee high white boots. Her auburn hair was pulled up loosely.

She stared aimlessly out into space, watching a myriad of colors blurring into the nothingness.

Reginald Sakakibara wore a sidearm, though apart from that, he was dressed as any Lord Adjutant to a Holder would: a black and white tunic and matching trousers. He walked at a leisurely pace, his demeanor masking his alertness as he evaluated passersby, before finally meandering over to Shalee, so as to not arouse suspicion. He stepped next to the woman he immediately recognized as his liege lady and offered quietly yet solemnly, "This is most unusual, my lady, but I came as quickly as I could. I assure you that I was not followed."

Her blue eyes slanted to the side upon hearing his voice. "Thank you. I do appreciate your coming."
She clasped her hands together behind her back, fingers entwining. "I'm going to ask you some things and I hope that you will humor me by answering as honestly as possible. Please," she added softly.

He nodded, expecting that this was a way for his liege lady to evaluate her standing in the Holding, though he was perplexed as to why she chose this location to speak with him. "Of course," he nodded, turning his eyes to the dark expanse as if he were just admiring the view.

"When is the last time you saw me?" Her voice sounded much more confident than she felt. "I realize it is an odd question. Just... humor me."

Reginald suppressed the urge to quirk a brow, "Last week, at court."

Shalee gave a little nod of her head. "I see." She nibbled her bottom lip, her expression thoughtful—supressing the panic that threatened to bubble up at any moment. "At court? Curious. Tell me... what has been going on with you?"

"With me?" His face flashed with the briefest flicker of confusion, "As you have ordered, evaluating standard estate conflicts, arranging for your attendance at functions, reviewing your addresses to the people. And of course, overseeing the police force you installed to protect your subjects from Sani Sabik influences."

"I see. I've been very busy, apparently." She fell silent for several minutes without explanation, then finally broke the awkward silence. "When is the last time you've seen Gia?" Her heart thudded at the thought of her six-year-old daughter.

Reginald surreptitiously reviewed their surroundings before Shalee broke the silence, "Gia? As far as I was aware, she is still with Garst, in null-sec."

She exhaled softly. "With Garst. Right. Of course." A look of relief washed across her face. Though she and Garst had always been at odds, she knew that Tyrell would protect their child at all costs. "And my husband? When is the last you've seen him?"

He turned his eyes ever so briefly to her, then back to the windows, "I have not seen Lord Tiger since before you decided to hold court every week. In all actuality, I found his absence quite puzzling. But, there has been no sighting nor word from him for at least year or longer."

Her brow furrowed at that bit of news. "I see." She absently brushed a strand of hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. A nervous habit. "And the others? Vlad? Thal? Sahriah? What are they up to currently?"

"Also absent, though I believe Vlad and Sahriah are in null-sec on maneuvers with Triumvirate. I've heard rumors Thal has found a place for himself in Lady Aspenstar's corporation." He couldn't help but chuckle softly, "You haven't done that in over a year, either. But then, I haven't had a personal visit like this with you in over a year. I admit that I'm surprised you aren't here with your standard security detail."

"You promised to humor my questions. I know they might seem odd, but they are so very important." She sighed at the mention of the Imposter and her security detail. "Luna... yes. How is she? And Daisha, have you any news of her?"

He nodded, "Of course, my apologies." He continued, "Lady Aspenstar recently lost her husband in a tragic accident. I met with Captain Daphiti to express my condolences. I took the liberty of extending your condolences to their family as well." He chewed on his bottom lip quietly, "I hope I didn't overreach in that regard. Considering that Captain Daphiti once flew in Imperial Outlaws, I thought that it would be a good gesture. Please excuse my presumption." He added, "As for Daisha, I believe she had begun a new corporation in the militia, near the Halmah pocket. Of course, I briefed you on that development during the intelligence council you convened several months ago."

She watched a streak of light in the distance as a ship disappeared behind the moon. "Poor Luna." She finally turned, her deep blue eyes wide as she stared at his noble profile. "And Kat? What of her?" Reginald's wife, and her former best friend, though she hadn't seen her in so very long.

Reginald grew quiet, a single twitch affecting the vein on his jaw. He responded quietly, "I've not seen her. She left our son in Tuomota with a note. But she could be remarried, in danger, or dead." He glanced at the ground, "I wouldn't know."

"Oh? That is good news... at least, about your child. You have possession of him then, I presume? And what of Rebecca? How is she?"

"Part of Kat's note indicated custody was to be shared, so he lives with a foster family." He finally cannot help but quirk a brow, "Rebecca? Didn't you see her this morning? You insisted that she stay with you, to learn to be a proper lady."

Shalee turned so that her back was against the viewport, the murky light illuminating wisps of auburn hair framing her face. She leaned against the pane and loosely folded her arms in front of her. "So much has changed." Other faces flashed through her mind, snippets of her past, most of it a blur.
"What about Pred and Kenzi?"

"Commander Elite has disappeared, though some reports indicate... suicide," he bit his lip, "His alliance was shattered, the membership scattered to New Eden." He almost tilted his head, "As for Lady Kenzi, you told me that she was bereft with grief and therefore no longer a suitable successor, which is in part, the reason why you told me you wanted to hold regular weekly courts." He cleared his throat, mimicking an address that Shalee made several months prior, "Our dearest cousin faces a time of immense tragedy, to which the duties of state would be an unnecessary and asphyxiating burden. Thus, while our dearest cousin is in mourning, we shall take her place and assume all public duties. This is our responsibility as Lady of Cerra Holding."

Shalee Lianne Cerra nodded as other faces flashed through her mind—old comrades, friends, and lovers. Vincent. Norrin. Raphael. Eran. There were simply too many people to catch up on. She'd do it later when she had more time. "I need to ask you one more thing, Reginald."

He nodded, still finding the exercise strange and out of place for the woman he had been serving for the last year, "Anything, my lady."

Her head tilted as she searched his eyes, starting intently at him, "How could you not know?"
Reginald returned her stare with an unflinching gaze, his eyes betraying weariness, exhaustion, and loss, "Because every woman I have ever loved has either left me or lied to me. The only other alternative was being alone."

"So, you did know?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly. "You knew all along that you're serving an imposter?"

He glanced around gently, contorting his face into a smile to mask the weight of the conversation, "I tried to find you. For months and months and months. I thought about going to the Heirs, of reporting it, but I had no evidence. Nothing I could offer as proof. With all of the trails cold and with no leads, I thought the best thing to do was stay where you could find me." His smile became genuine, "Right where you left me."

"Do you have any idea who she might truly be? You've obviously been close to her... has she betrayed herself at all to you?"

He returned to his fake smile after a chuckle, as if he was laughing at a joke, before glancing back out towards space, "No, nothing. I do, however, suspect she is the pawn rather than the mastermind. And I've been kept at arm's length. I imagine because it would kick up too much dust to replace a dutiful and obedient Lord Adjutant without cause."

She forced a smile as two Imperial cadets wandered close by. She remained silent, waiting for them to move on before speaking once more. "I have no idea what to do. Nothing makes sense anymore. I woke up to an unfamiliar world and everything has changed...."

"It's been a year. Things change. People move on. But some things never do, some lights never flicker away," he said reassuringly, watching the cadets carefully, his index finger brushing briefly against his holster, "You took a risk contacting me directly. I imagine someone was with you to oversee your clone's activation. Are they trustworthy?"

"Elisen. I don't know if you've ever met her. She's been in my employee since I've become a capsuleer originally. She knew early on that something wasn't right. It's a long story really."

"I think I have. She flew in Hopscotch briefly, when I returned to the militia for a time." He glanced around the academy station, "I haven't been here in a very long time. But I understand your caution of choosing this venue."

Shalee glanced around the gardens, her eyes flittering from statue to statue before finally returning to Regi. "Technically, I'm starting over. With the Academy, at least. When I ran away all those years ago, I took the name Lianne, but this clone was always on reserve, with my full name. It is legal, at least, well, in the Empire. Though things will be complicated once the Imposter realizes I am alive—or whoever she is working for, that is."

"How would you like me to proceed in Huola, then?" He asked, the weight of the question underscored by his solemn expression.

"You must remain as you are. I don't want to give anything away too early. I doubt anyone will notice if I remain buried in the Academy."

"All right. I understand," he said loudly as a pair of cadets walked by, "Nonetheless, I hope your studies are going well." The cadets paid him little attention as they brushed past.

She chuckled softly. "My studies are going very well, thank you. I have the memories of a thousand battles, but now I am learning how to operate an armor repper." She followed the cadets with her eyes, making certain that they were too far to hear anything before continuing. "So what are your theories? Sani Sabi? Other?"

"Sani Sabik would be almost too likely. Her secret police have been rounding up anyone with even a whiff of Sani Sabiksm, which would benefit a particular cult over others. She could be the figurehead of a Serpentis or Angel Cartel operation or even the puppet of Matari rebels. At any rate, we won't have a better sense until we get someone closer to her."

"You are the closest person that I know. If you can't get to her, then who could? She is being very careful. Though these last few days, I've been thinking and I almost... almost don't care anymore. I should feel outrage that someone has stolen my life, but... all I truly care about is being reunited with my daughter."

He blinked in surprise, realization dawning on him. He nodded, feeling as if one unbearable weight had been lifted only to be replaced by another, even heavier than the last, "Oh, I see. Yes, of course. That is of the utmost importance. She hasn't seen you for nearly a year."

"That is the hope, at least. Surely the Imposter would not try to get past Garst's guards."

"I don't believe she's tried, no." He smiled brightly as the pieces fall together and into place, hoping he could hide the grim fate that awaited him. After all this time, it was natural for Shalee's desire to be in null-sec, with her daughter. And that meant that his place was serving the impostor, the eternal and vigilant watchman who ensured nothing would be noticed, that nothing would be amiss. And in that role, he would simply lose her again.

"But, I don't know what to do at this point," she said, rubbing the back of her neck. Without the funds from my Holding, I have very little to offer my daughter. Without my title and connections, I cannot even guarantee her safety if I should try to take her from Garst again. Though at this point, she may not even wish to leave her Father. There are so many unknown variables." She blinked several times as her eyes watered though she refused to cry in front of him. Her chin lifted proudly. "But I will find a way to her."

"It's a delicate situation, to be sure. It's far more likely that Garst will want to keep you lock and key in null-sec, with Vlad posted as your robotic guard dog."

"That is indeed possible. Without my piloting skills, I have very little value to him other than being the mother of his child. I think he would lock me up and forget about me."

"But you would be safe and with your daughter." Two things he couldn't guarantee to her.

"And what kind of role model would I be should I allow myself to become a prisoner? What will she think of me as she grows older?"

Reginald offered her his arm politely for a leisurely 'walk' through the gardens, noticing a group of cadets that have taken interest in them, "The kind of role model who would be with her." He gently exhaled, "I hate the idea of losing you again yet knowing that you are somewhere I cannot follow. But I am sure that Gia misses you fiercely and Garst has all of the resources you need for a full and happy life with her."

She slipped her arm on top of his sleeve. "You can't be serious. Return to Garst? He's..." her voice faltered as memories of Garst played through her mind, long ago memories of his darker days when he was still in the Empire.

"Perhaps not," he looked at her briefly, unable to hold back the familiar longing and the flood of memories of her familiar stride, aroma, and weight on his arm, "But more than anything, I want you to be happy." Because one of us should be, he thought grimly.

"I can't be happy without knowing whats happened. I can't just walk away without finding out the truth of who this imposter really is and what her ultimate goal is. Because potentially, she could harm Gia. And, I will not allow that to happen."

"You're right." He paused with her on a footbridge, which spaned an artificial pond bedecked with lily pads floating on a lazy current, "Give me some time. I'll try to follow her paper trails. She can't possibly be funding everything she does on taxes alone."

Her gaze followed the shimmering koi gliding effortlessly along the floor of the pool. "Thank you. I knew I could count on you. I trust you, Reginald." She sideglanced him, "I should probably get back, it is getting late."

"Of course, and I still have duties to attend to in Huola." He smiled at her, then for good measure, seeing as they were in full view of curious cadets, he leaned in and gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek. The brief display was enough to scatter the cadets since public displays of affection were powerful tools of reflecting away attention.

The corners of her mouth tugged up into a half-smile. "I will be in touch soon, and please, let me know if you find anything out. Good night, Regi." she squeezed his arm before releasing it, then headed off in the opposite direction, unaware that she was being followed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Through The Hourglass I Saw You - (rated adult!)

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
Constellation: N-APJ8
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?"

"Uh huh..."

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?"