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, May 25, 2010

Eighty Three: We all fall down

The Fall of Arzad, 112



Eran opened his arms, "Shalee....please....can we talk?"

She ignored him as she moved to her door, placing her hand against the palm scanner. "There's nothing left to say."

" saw this coming didn't you? You knew what I was doing." He lightly grabbed her arm, "Please, can't we sit for a minute? If you never want to see me again....I can understand....just...."

She continued to ignore him as the door slid open. Realizing he wasn't going to let her go, she suddenly jerked her head towards him, chin jutted up stubbornly, eyes lit with anger, "Just WHAT?"

"Give me a chance to ask for your forgiveness." He sighed, dropping his head.

"Forgive you?" she asked incrediously.

"Arzad means a lot to me but you mean much more."

"Forgiveness after the fact? Forgiveness after you took Arzad? You don't even give a goddamn about it really, you're leaving anyhow."

He looked at her hoplessly, "I"m sorry Shalee....I..." He frowned.

"Stop. Stop saying that. You're not sorry at all."

"I do care about it. Just like I care about you. Arzad means a lot to me; it is the home of my people. I am sorry, Shalee....I'm sorry I have to fight you like this, I'm sorry Arzad had to fall, I'm sorry you moved there, I'm sorry you met me."

"You just fought for a system that you're going to abandon."

"I don't want to hurt you, Shalee, I don't."

"You can say anything you want but that doesn't change anything at all. You're still the enemy."

"I'm leaving the militia; doesn't mea-..."

"You still fight my people. You took our system. You lead them to a goddamned victory! And you want me to forgive you!"

His jaw clenched as a look of guilt flashed across his face.

She dropped her voice to a mere whisper, "You love me. But you don't love me enough."

"What? I don't love you enough....? How do you figure? Yes, I could try to justify it, but I won't. There's no need to point fingers Shalee, it's not like your hands are exactly clean in this either."

She scoffed. "Forget it. It doesn't matter. None of it matters, does it? Just leave."

He dropped his hand from her arm. "It matters to me. I know nothing I say will make it better, nothing I can do will change."

A group of drunken Minmatar station workers rounded the corner, singing a bawdy song. Obviously celebrating the liberation of Arzad. Shalee fell silent until they passed, staring at the ground. "You're the hero of the hour. General Mintor. Savior of Arzad. Why are you even here? Why aren't you out there celebrating? With your people."

"Because I'm not in a celebratory mood, especially knowing you are likely to never speak to me again, knowing that this is my only chance to make amends...I am...unprepared."

She sighed softly as she stepped into the apartment, "You should know how this feels. You've lost territory before. You should understand the god-awful feeling of utter hopelessness. But you never had to feel that knowing, knowing that it came at the hands of someone who said they loved you."

He winced as if her words struck him hard. "I know. I'm a coward, a hypocrite."

She looked away as hot angry tears splashed down her face suddenly. "I'm such a fool. If any of my commrades knew I was here.... knew I was with you instead of out there on the battlefield all of those nights. In love with the one who would take Arzad." She choked on a sob, "Oh god. What have I done?"

".....I didn't mean to betray you like this Shalee." His voice was desperate, "Don't blame yourself, please. I am the one who approached you, who used all the tricks to get close to you."

She paled as a dreadful sick feeling took hold in the pit of her stomach. She felt nausated. "Oh used me...?"

He grabbed her arm more aggressively, "No! I didn't mean it like that."

She tried to jerk away as her heart raced, her head dizzy with the thoughts of him using her. "Of course you did!" Silent tears streaked her cheeks. "Was it all a ruse then? To get close to the enemy, for intel? What did you want from me?" Have you used me like I've used you? Was I your assignment too?

"I didn't use you Shalee! I truly love you! Don't you understand?"

She shook her head furiously, "No I dont understand anything at all."

He released her arm, "I never meant to hurt you. I only meant to love you. I know I can't shed blame for my actions, I know I have hurt you. I truly am sorry." He stared intently at her, "I don't know what else to say....I...."

She placed her trembling hands over her tear stained face, swiping away the tears. "This is all wrong, everything is wrong. I can't do this anymore."

"Believe me or not, you are more important than any material thing. Everyday I dream of you, day and night. I can't ignore my feelings for you. You have every right to turn me out for what I've done. I feel disgusting, like a bird with clipped wings." He kissed the back of her hands as he pulled them from her face. "Shalee look at me please," he said desperately.


"I am sorry for what I've done, for who I am. I should never have asked you to get involved with me, you deserve so much better."

"Please Eran don't lie."

"I'm not!"

"Did you approach me because I was a target? Were you sent to distract me?"

"No! I went after you out of my own desire, my own loneliness. If you want to think I used you to fill that gap, then yes, I did." He looked her in the eyes, "...and you fit perfectly."

She said nothing.

"I guess....I'll leave you in peace" He hung his head. "Thank you for hearing me out."

She rubbed her hands slowly across her face, "What do you want me to say?"

"Nothing...I just wanted to talk to you. What I wanted to hear is....just a part of my dreams."

"Say it."

He shook his head and sighed, "I wanted to hear you say you loved me and you understood I was doing what I thought was right....but how could you after what I've done. I'm terrible."

She bit on her bottom lip as fresh new tears trickled down her cheeks. "I do love you." Her face flushed with anger, "And I hate that I do."

His eyes locked onto hers, jaw tensed. A single tear slid down his face.

"I hate it so much, so goddamned much. I hate that you consume me. That I think about you all the time, that I want to be with you."

" do? What can I do to make you not hate it?"



"You already know and I wont ever say those words again. You are not going to be the man I wanted you to be. Your destiny is not with me."

"You don't know what our destiny is." He took hold of one of her hands, putting his other hand ontop of it, "You know as well as I that the future is uncertain. I wasn't lying that I said I will try everything in my power to make it so we can be together, without me having to kill or betray anyone."

She jerked her hand away. "No. Don't."

He looked at his boots.

"I don't want that. I am going to be in this war til it is over. Til every last system is reclaimed."


"Because it matters to me."

"What matters to me is you. If I didn't fear God and the consequences of my actions, I would leave the Minmatar in a heartbeat to spend the rest of my years with you. The only reason I even started this damn campaign was out of a desire to end it! Why do you think I'm leaving? It's not because I don't care about Arzad, or the Minmatar. I can't stand this fucking conflict anymore! And now...." He shook his head and waved his hand dismissively, "Forget it, I'm making everything worse. That's all I'm good at...."

"I'm sorry. You want me to ease your conscience and I cannot. You hurt me today."

"I know...."

"It wasn't even personal for you. You're leaving anyhow."

"...I should leave."

"You should have left before it fell."

"What? And insult all the crew who fought so hard and died for it? It was personal. There was no way I would devote thousands of lives, millions of ISK, and hundreds of hours to a conflict that doesn't mean something to me." He sighed, "I'll leave you now."

She stormed to the door and pulled it open, "Fine! Just leave!" She balled her hands up into fists and angrily shoved them at him. "Get out!"

He looked at her for one last gaze, his face red and swollen, his eyes somber. "God....what have I done?"

She stared desperately at him, face flushed, streaked with tears.

He slowly extended a hand to her cheek, wiping away curls that had stuck to her face from the salty substance. "You're so beautiful."

She closed her eyes as his hand brushed across her cheek, savoring the touch. So much of her still hated him but that tiny part that had obsessed over him the last week or so won over in that moment. And instead of slapping his hand away, she leaned into it with a soft little sound of resignation, knowing that she couldn't really and truely hate him.

As if sensing the opportunity, he reached up with his other hand and pulled her into an embrace. "I love you." He dropped to his knees, head against her stomach, arms wrapped around her, "Shalee, I was so afraid. You truly do not understand what you mean to me, you are my hopes manifested."

She wrapped her hands around his head, fingers combing through his hair, saying the words that he longed to hear. Words to ease his guilt. "You did what you thought you had to do."

He frowned as he stood up, facing her, rubbing his hands up and down her arms, "Whatever ill I've done to you. Whatever harm I've caused, I truly regret it."

"It's the end. It is as the begining. We are enemies." She said in a heartbroken voice.

"Not for long...."

"You don't get it do you? The damage is done. Even if you walk away from the militia, so what? I'll still be here, trying to undo what you've done."

He nodded, "I understand. I wish I could give these sytems back without having to turn a blind eye to murder of my kin..."

She fell silent.

"But it doesn't matter what I wish for, if I cant." He sighed heavily, "The damage is done. I have wronged you. I have caused your people anguish and grief. I am powerless now." He grimmaced.

She shook her head, silent.

He stared at her, his mouth open like he wanted to say everything he knew to soothe her. "What next?" He looked nervous, as if his legs were going to give out, "C-can we sit down?"

She threaded her fingers through her long hair as she took a step away from him. "Yes." She moved past him and closed the door, locking it, then motioned him over to a sofa, one that had an panoramic view of space.

He stiffly maked his way to the sofa, creaking as his knees bent to sit.

She forced her voice to be even, emotionless. "Can I get you something?" She lowered herself onto one end of the sofa. "A drink...are you hungry?"

"This is a very nice place...amazing view." He looked over to her, "No thank you." He folded his hands in his lap, his back slouched and bent.

She quickly brushed her fingers across her face, swiping away a random tear. "Are you sure? I can get you anything you want, really." Her voice was eerily calm despite her raging emotions. "The station has all kinds of places that deliver." So many things ran through her mind at once. Are we really doing this? Are we talking about the view and food? You broke my heart Eran, I didn't even know I loved you, really and truely loved you, til now. Tonight. When it's all too late. It started as an assignment, a game, but now it is real. I love you.

Eran spoke with a distant stare at the floor between them "No, thank you Shalee. You are very kind but I should not burden you any more with my requests." He blinked and looked up, back out at the stars, "....I often wish I was still just six years old back on Eram. No worry, no guilt. What am I turning my life into?" He whispered absently.

She stood suddenly, "Well. I need a drink." She moved over to the minibar and mixed herself a drink in a very large glass, more alcohol than anything.

"Is it okay if I smoke in here?"


"Thanks." He pulled out a slender hand-rolled cigarette. He lit it and inhaled slowly, pressing his back into the sofa. Eran's eyes closed and he seemed to relax, the most tranquil he'd been all night, though only for a moment. He couldn't brush off that look on her face, a mixture of despise, betrayal, and misery.

She winced as she suddenly heard his voice coming from the other room. The gal-net played softly in the background, his speech over conquering Arzad was being played on the local news.

"Today marks a milestone; As Minmatar and as humans, we have struggled to follow the path before us. Many Minmatar curse God for not stopping the Amarrian's evil practices, or not birthing us into the freedoms some think we all deserve; Many go as far to say He is not reality...but the reality is we are not the All-Knowing, and we know not why things happen...Well, today is a blessing; something to be grateful for as we all are. We have been tested and tried but prevailed. This is not only a victory for the Starkmanir and the Minmatar militia, but for all Minmatar. Finally, the future is looking brighter; it seems our dreams may be realized and our prayers answered..."

He cringed, "Can you turn that off? I don't want to hear my deluded self spout off."

She gave a curt little nod, "Yeah." She turned it off via remote, then settled onto the sofa, sipping on her drink. It was going to be a long night and she hoped to get completely drunk.

He rolled his head on the back of the sofa, sighing with misery. His face adopted a stern scowl, mentally cursing himself as he took another drag from his herbal stick.

Shalee took a long sip from her glass then laid the side of her head against the sofa, looking at him absently. The air unit kicked on and blew a gust of cool air against her flushed face. Suddenly she was chilled. Miserable. She stretched a hand out as if to ask for his cigarette.

He looked in her eyes, his face soft as he handed it over.

She took it from him and brought it to her lips, inhaling the fragrant smoke, holding it in her mouth a few seconds before exhaling. She handed it back to him.

He absent mindedly took hold of the cigarette by the cherry, his gaze still locked on her. The cigarette died in his fingers.


He dumped what was left of it into the ashtray nearby, then rubbed his fingers together. "Shalee. I never expected you to let me see you. Thank you."

She glanced to his hand, "It's okay." Resignation slid across her face. She couldn't fight it anymore, couldn't fight him anymore, couldn't hate him. She wanted to be with him, at least in this moment. She moved over to him, closing the distance between them. "I really am New Eden's biggest fool."

Suprise flashed across his face as she neared him. He took advantage of the moment by wrapping his arms around her. "No, you are New Eden's most merciful and lovely human being."

She sat her glass on the floor, then climbed into his lap. She placed her fingers against his mouth, "Shhh."

He smirked and closed his eyes. His heart skipped a beat and goosebumps formed on his arms. A light, long sigh escaped him. "I'm okay with me shutting up....," he said quietly, smiling.

"I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of thinking about Arzad. The war. You being an enemy. I'm tired of so many other things that you don't even know about. I just....want you to make me forget. Make me forget everything, Eran."

She couldn't help but to crave his touch, much like a child will crave comfort from a parent who just spanked them. He had hurt her, and gods she was hurting, but she wanted him to ease that pain somehow. To make her feel better.

She started to kiss his neck, his ear, his chin. At once her demeanor changed and suddenly she was aggressive, mouth everywhere, tasting, kissing, inticing.

Eran was frozen at first, taken by complete surprise at the sudden change. Before long, he slipped his arms around her lower back and waist, pulling her a bit closer into him. He tried to kiss her inbetween her motions, but had trouble keeping up. He moved a hand up to her chin, stoping her face long enough for him to land a solid kiss on her lips.

She melted into the kiss, her mouth claiming his as her hands worked at a furious pace to pull away his shirt. He lifted his arms, releasing the kiss long enough for the shirt to slip over his head. He tossed the shirt to the side and put his hands back on her hips, throwing her back down to the sofa.

He rose over her, diving in to kiss her again with a fierce passion. His kiss lifted before diving again to suck the skin on her neck. His hands began to wander, massaging her hips.

She kicked of her shoes and started to unbutton her shirt as he hovered above her. She pushed it off her shoulders and tugged it off never breaking the kiss.

He lifted his hands to her hair, caressing his fingers thru the red strands and around her ears. He pulled back for a moment, looking at her in amazement. Eyes glazed with passion, he closed them again before slowly lowering himself inches from her lips. His arms positioned on the sofa to keep most his weight off her as he hovered above her, feeling the heat of her body.

She stared up at him, flushed with arousal. "Stopping so soon General Mintor?" She licked his chin, "Don't you want to conquer me like you conquered Arzad?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Entry Eighty Two: Sacrifices

Late March 112

"Wake up."

She blinked open her eyes as if by command and focused on Kathetel. "What...where am I?"



"Aboard the Airella, on your way back to Arzad."

She was silent for a moment, trying to put the pieces together. Her memories were distorted and out of place, like a dream."I...don't remember how I got here. How long have I been here?"

"A few hours."

"How did you find me?"

"You know how. A better question would be why."

She stared at him unblinking, saying nothing.

"The Empire has a lot invested in you, and needless to say we are not amused by what you've done."

She squeezed her eyes shut as if she could block out the memory. "Hadrien..."

"Yes. Hadrien."

"I...I didn't mean to."

"Intention is irrelevant now. It's over. You killed him, and we've cleaned up the mess." The corners of his mouth curved into a smirk, "And what a mess you made..."

"He was going to kill Soren, I had no choice."

"No, I gather you did not. But the bloodbath afterwards, I could have probably done without that." He tsked her, "Some old habits die hard eh?"

"Go to hell."

He tsked again. "Now now, no need to bite the hand that feeds you. Your secret room has been cleaned, everything disposed, security feeds erased and replaced. It's like it never happened. You can continue on with your assignments."

"I'm done. I can't do this anymore, I am leaving the war. I'm leaving everything."

He frowned suddenly, "That's not an option."

"I can't do this anymore."

Kathetel sat down on the edge of her bed. He hesitated, his mouth opening, saying nothing for a few seconds.

"Look. You don't have anywhere to run to. You can't go back to your old life, your Father made sure of that. Your other two brothers have all but disappeared. The mercenaries who took you in before have dissipated into other corporations. Where will you go? To Vlad Cetes? A man who wants to turn you into a soulless piece of metal like himself? He will not protect you, Shalee. He wants something from you, we've yet to figure it out, but theres a reason he is following you so closely. Who else do you have? Garst Tyrell? He would crush you for denying him so long. Think you can run to your pirate friends? It's just a matter of days before Xaerik's corporation falls apart. Vincent Pyrce is off the grid, you wont even be able to find him. Face it Shalee. You have no one to turn to, no where to run away to."

She glanced away, saying nothing.

"This is where you belong."

A robed man stepped through the door as it opened. He nodded his head at Kathetel and motioned him over.

She could barely make out what they were whispering about before they stepped out into the corridor.

Kathetel's voice suddenly rose, "Not like this. This will undo everything, all the progress we've made with her."

She strained to hear what the other man was saying in response but couldn't quite make it out.

"Arzad fell?" Kathetel sounded frustrated.

Moments later they returned.

Kathetel folded his arms across his chest, his jaw tensed.

Shalee looked to Kathetel as the other man neared the bed.

"What's going on..." Fear slid down her spine.

Kathetel shook his head as a look of sympathy flashed across his face.

"Tell me, please? What's..."

Before she could finish asking, the stranger spoke. "Shalee Lianne, you are under arrest for the murder of Hadrien Lianne. You will be sentenced to death."

At least it was an escape, she thought grimly.

He frowned as he looked at her as if expecting some sort of hysterics. He tried again, "You know this means suspicion will be cast upon the Knights of the Merciful Crown. They will be dragged through the mud. The public "trial" will be an endless parade of people you've known since becoming a capsuleer. Would you destroy them all?"

"What would you have me do...?"

"Get Eran Mintor to defect. Now. We can't lose any more sovereignty."

"And if I do this, you drop the charges?"

He nodded. "It's as if it never happened."

"I guess I don't have a choice."

His thin lips stretched into a smile as he looked to Kathetel, "Get rid of the clones, make her watch.

"Kathetel glared at him, "It's not necessary. Not like this, you already have her compliance."

"Exactly. We no longer have a need for them. Dispose of them. That's an order."

He activted a holovid, showing the cell where Raphael Saint was being held all these months. Another clone of him had been activated and sent back to Amarr, never knowing what really had happened on his quest to find Commander Michael Priboj.

As the robed man exited the room, Kathetel whispered to her. "Close your eyes."

But she couldn't. She couldn't pull her gaze away from the holo, couldn't catch her breath as two armed guards entered into Raphael's cell and shot him between the eyes.

She heard Kathetel speak her name just before she passed out.

She was dreaming. Her seven year old self was running through the corridor of the house they had lived in. Her tiny feet padded against the marbled floor, barely making any sound as she ran into her room.

She looked around, confused. Everything was different. All of her toys, gone. Bed stripped down. Dusty white drop cloths covered what was left of the furniture.

She ran.

She ran to her parents room, desperately screaming for her mother but it was different too.

Cobwebs hung from the crystal chandlier. Dust covered the mantle, the tables.

She crawled onto the canopy bed and curled up where her mother should have been. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she absently stared at the balcony doors.


Hours later, she sat at the back of a public shuttle on it's way to Arzad. She was exhausted, pale, and numb. She'd been given a sedative, cleaned up and dressed into her militia uniform.

Just like that, they sent her back into the world with one objective. Convince General Eran Mintor of the Minmatar Militia to defect to Amarr.

She rubbed her temples as her head pounded. She needed sleep, needed to just disappear and hide away from the world but knew it was impossible.

Her comm blinked with an incoming message. She glanced down to the screen...

Dearest Shalee,
...I'm sure you've heard the news already, but if not....I'm sorry to tell you that Arzad has been lost by the Amarr today.
Please forgive me. I know you saw this coming, but I hope it doesn't draw us apart. It's hard for me to celebrate this victory knowing you can't share it with me. Please be alright.
Love you,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Entry Eighty One: The Room

Late March 112

The air was heavy, the scent of blood permeated the room, making her nausated. She blinked and tried to bring the room into focus but couldn't.

Everything was blurry and sickening. Wrong.

She tried to remember. What had she done?

She remembered Soren, her corp mate. He had been sick. She had stopped by his apartment to check up on him after patrols.

Where am I...?

Everything was distorted. Her head ached. Was she drunk? Drugged? Had she done this to herself? She held her hands up and tried to bring them into focus. Dark red. Wet. Blood? So much blood. Her hands trembled.

Oh god.

Soren. She tried to focus on Soren. Something seemed terribly important...oh god.

The memory slipped through the fog of hysteria.

She found him tied up, readied for a blood ritual, with Hadrien waiting. Her brother. Her own flesh and blood, standing over Soren with a long thin blade.

She went limp, the bottle of juice and bowl of soup she had brought for Soren crashed to the floor. She couldn't breathe, couldn't react in any way but to stand there, screaming in her mind.

Seconds bled into minutes before she found her voice.

"Oh god, what have you done Hadi!"
"Nothing yet angel, I was waiting for you."
"No. Hadrien no...oh GOD. Let him go."
"No, he dies, Shalee. You can kill him quickly, or I can do it the way I showed you so long ago."

She tried to force her way around Hadrien to get to Soren.

"No! Get out of the way, I wont let you do this I wont let you hurt him!"
"It is not a matter of what you will or will not let me do. This is what has to happen."

He grabbed her by the arms, jerking her away from the bed. She broke free of him and desperately started to search for the gun she knew Soren always wore.

"No! I'll kill you first before I let you touch one hair on his head!"
"You're not doing this, you're not!"

There was a struggle. She had found Soren's gun and aimed it at her brother.

"You would kill your own flesh and blood over some heathen bastard?"

His words echoed through her mind over and over as she remembered pulling the trigger after Hadrien impaled the knife into Soren's throat.

Everything was a blur again. She vaguely remembered medics. Doctors telling her that Soren might live. She remembered being so calm after the fact, relying on her militia training to take control of a stressful situation, to step outside of what was happening and view it from a different perspective to deal with it.

She was eerily calm as she took charge, cleaning up Soren's apartment, keeping vigil throughout the night to make certain he was going to live.

The next morning she snapped.

Exhaustion and hysteria had set in, combined with alcohol she'd been drinking all night.

She had claimed Hadrien's body from the morgue and had it delivered to the back of the Paradiso into an old room she had purchased for blooding months prior.

Not that she ever intended to use the room, it had been part of a ruse to try and make contact with another blooder that Aldrith was in trouble with.

She had all but forgotten about the room.

But she still had access to it.

She stared at her blood soaked hands again. Rivulets of blood streaked down her pale arms. Her clothes were drenched from blood and sweat.


She jerked suddenly. The room was spinning.

"Angel look at me."

"'re dead."

"And you killed me. How could you forsake me? Your own brother who loved you more than anyone!"

She cupped her hands over her ears trying to smother out his voice.

"This can't be real," she whispered to herself over and over.

"You'll never be free of me, Angel. I'm a part of you. That's why you brought me here."

"I brought you here to chop you up into a thousand little pieces. You don't deserve a proper burial. You are dead and no one will ever know your fate, Hadrien. No one will ever mourn you because they will never know."

"You will mourn me."

"I will never think of you again!"

"You will never forget me because I am a part of you Angel. Your blood is my blood. I've taught you everything you know. You can only pretend so long, Angel. They will find out who you really are and then you will be alone. They will never understand you like I do, never love you like I do."

"You're wrong!" She pressed her hands tighter against her ears but couldn't drown out his voice.

His tone was mocking, "You think any of them would love you if they knew what a whore you really were? Do you think they would stand by your side if they knew the things you were capable of. If they saw you like this?"


"Do you think your General is going to turn sides just because you want him to? He is using you. Why do you whore yourself to him?"

"Stop. You're not real."

"And look at this place. You're a wreck, you can't even stand up, much less clean this up. Who is going to help you, Shalee? Do you think your little hero Zenton is going to come to your rescue now? Would he help you seeing you like this, covered in blood with pieces of flesh stuck to your skin? Do you really think his love is that unconditional? Do you think your General would love you if he saw you like this? Would he help you? Do you think Raphael would love you if he knew? You know in your heart he would be the first to turn you over to the Inquisition, good little Praetorian that he is. You have no one now. You're all alone and murdered the only person who ever really understood you, Angel. Look at me dammit!"

She blinked open her eyes to the macabre scene.

Blood was everywhere, pooled on the floor, splattered on the walls. Ritualistic symbols were drawn in his blood all around the room. Blood dripped from what was left of him on the table.

Other pieces of him lay in mangled on the floor.

"Oh god...what have I done..."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Entry Eighty: Love Games

Late March, 112

She waited for him in virtual reality by a pool that resembled something from ancient Amarr. White columns surrounded the water, stretching up into the sky covering the area with a dome shapped painted ceiling. Flower petals floated across the water. Candles and torches were scattered about, illuminating her lithe form. She smiled. "Ah, there you are."

He glanced around at the manifested scene, smiling, "This is cool," then looked to her frowning, "Doesn't beat seeing you in person though How are you?" He stepped over to her.

Shalee bit on her bottom lip as he he frowned. "I am well." Her feet dangled into the water as she sat on the edge of the pool. She wore a sheer white bathingsuit wrap across her torso, bunched up around her thighs. "You don't like VR?"

He smirked as he pulled out a piece of paper and unwrapped it, revealing a dark chocolate, "'s cool, but it's know?" He shrugged. "Still good to see you though." He sat down next to her and offered a bite, "Want a piece?"

She gave a little nod as she leaned over to him and opened her mouth, "Yes."

"They say you can almost taste it..." He moved his hand up and placed the bar on her tongue.

She wrapped her lips around it and pulled it from his fingers, slipping it into her mouth. "Mmm." She chewed and swallow. "I can taste it." She looked at him trying to gauge his mood, wishing she knew him better.

He chuckled a bit and smiled at her, "You can?, aren't you going to ask how I am?"

"How are you Eran?"

"I'm good actually.....very good, thank you." He smiled as he tore his gaze from her to look around the place again, "So is this somewhere you know?"

She shook her head, "No I've never been here. I just thought it was pretty."

"It is nice...tranquil."

"....intimate." She said, staring at him, her heart racing.

"Yeah...." He turned his head to her, looking into her eyes, his mouth opening a bit in surprise. "...what have you been up to the past two days?"

"Missing you. And you? What have you done?"

He chuckled a bit, "Sleeping....and spending any other time planetside. I've been thinking of you too."

"Thinking what, precisely?"

"Hm? Just about you....wondering what you've been up to. When I would see you again." He smirked.

"And yet I had to contact you. I almost thought you were losing interest in me." She side glanced at him.

"At least this seems real, maybe." He frowned, "I'm sorry, I've been busy. Very tired too..."

She smiled prettily, attempting a sultry little pout of her lips, thinking she wasn't the best at seduction, apparently. "Don't apologize, you don't owe me anything." She stood and walked over to the steps that lead into the marbled pool. Firelight flickered behind her from one of the torches, illuminating her every curve as she pulled away the wrap, letting it fall to the floor before starting into the water. She gave a glance to him, blushing, "Will you swim with me?"

He looked over at her, as she descended into the pool, his eyes wide, "Uhm...s-sure, why not?" He laughed while standing up, taking off his shirt and kicking off his boots, he jumped into the pool with the rest of his clothes on, shouting as he cannonballed, "Waaaahooo!'

He emerged from the depths and shook his dreads, wiping his face with his hands, then paddled over to Shalee. He smirked and splashed her face lightly by smacking his hand on the water.

She sighed to herself, turning her head as he splashed her, "Stop." Her tone was sharp, frustrated.

"Okay..." He frowned "Not in a playful mood, I take it?"

She submerged herself into the water dipping beneath it to hide her utter humiliation before coming up for air in time to hear his question. "I can play." She forced a smile as she splashed him.

He closed his eyes and smiled, "I dunno....something seems on your mind...."

"Nope. Nothing." She sent another angry splash at him for good measure.

He opened his eyes again and looked at her curiously. Realization slid across his face.

She turned suddenly and swam away to the far end of the pool, swaying the water to shove away some of the flower petals.

He watched her in awe. His smile twisted into a licentious curve of his lips as he started to swim to her, never taking his eyes off of her. "So...what has you that you can't meet at Soft River?" His gaze travelled across her, taking in her wet hair, resting on her inviting lips, then finally he locked his eyes with her.

She pressed her back against the marbled wall, "I could have."

He neared her, extending his arms around her and pushed against the wall to stop himself inches infront of her, "But...?"

She tipped her chin up to meet his gaze. Every muscle in her body went tense with anticipation. "But...I couldn't... I mean..." Her cheeks flamed red. She'd never been good at seduction and was failing at it now. "I had a proposition."

He rested one hand on her shoulder and another lightly on her neck, "A proposition? What do you propose...."

She shivered beneath his touch. Her breath caught in the back of her throat as she stared at him. "I said.. that you would marry me. If you could. And the only thing stopping you is being on the wrong side of this I came here to tell you that I would marry you if you fought for this war." She went her lips nervously ..."in the Amarrian militia."

He looked at her, puzzled, then quickly pulled away.

"I will belong to you and only to you, Eran. I will be yours."

"Why would you propose know I can't....I would love to be with you Shalee....I think.....but you asking me that...."

"Why? You say you want to end this war? You say you want to be with me? Then prove it. Be with me."

"Being with you won't end the war. Especially if I'm in the Amarrian militia."

"But you don't even care, Eran."

"I'd just be living a about what?"

"You say you're leaving the Minmatar militia after the fall of Arzad?"

"Shortly after, yes."

"You don't care to stay and fight really but it is my passion. Winning this war is my passion, it means everything."

"And if it doesn't fall, I will leave anyway. Or at least pull away from the front."

"So stay with me. Fight with me, not against me. Be with me."

"I plan to stay with Valklear..." He looked sadly at her, feeling weak and helpless. "I don't want to fight you....I don't want to be in this war...but what I want isn't always for the best...for myself or those around me. You already know this, you told me before I should 'do my duty' if I needed to shoot know I wouldn't. I just....."

She had gambled and she had lost. She had tried to tempt him with sex, love, and marriage, offering herself to him completely, "I know."

" know I can't turn on those who depend on me and love me."

"And what about my love?"

"If it's conditional upon me being a traitor..." He shrugged, torn. Hurt. "Understand my love for you isn't conditional. You seem a lot more bothered by the fact CONCORD allows us to shoot each other than me. We are people, not bound by CONCORD, but by God. That is what marriage is about."

She nodded, "It's fine. I didn't think you'd agree to it anyhow." She suddenly ducked underneath the water again, humiliated.

He frowned deeply, watching her submerge. He sighed and looked up at the painted ceiling, waiting for her to resurface.

She stayed beneath the water for as long as possible. Even if it wasn't reality, it felt real enough that she was breathless when she finally came up. She inhaled a big breath.

He swam back to her, stopping a foot or so infront of her. He took hold of one of her hands lightly as he looked at her, his expression worried, as if he's thinking what to say.

"You don't have to say anything."

"Whether or not we are fighting on the same side....well....yes, it would raise a lot of issues." He sighed, "Is your love conditional?" he asked with a weary sigh.

"No. But...wanting to be with someone who believes as I do? Who shares the same passions? Someone I could actually meet in public. Marry. Someone I could fly with instead of having to worry if his corp mates are going to murder me? We are in war Eran. And that is the cold harsh reality of you and I. Enemies beyond our games and this virtual reality. Thats why I brought you here. I can give myself to you here, but not for real. It's all pretend. Anyhow. I had to try, I hope you understand. But lets not speak of it anymore."

She swam away from him, pausing at the steps of the pool, "Do your duty and I will do mine."