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...

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Tyrant's Focus

(guest post by Garst Tyrell)

The tyrant exited the pristine medical bay with a confident stride, quickly but precisely closing the distance to the lift that would transport him to the upper levels. As he entered the lift a lone Amarrian bowed and held forth the master's command console. The scene played out as it always must: He dismissed the mortal as he seized the proferred device, his mind already focusing not on battles lost but greater wars yet to be won. The ritual complete the Amarrian silently stepped from the lift and bowed once more unnoticed as the doors snapped shut. The lift began its silent ascent from Hades. He would be back.

The display faded back into life to project a Triumvirate alliance logo as his hands waved impatiently over the screen, haptic sensors responding to his newest body's unique bio-electrical field. Form is subservient to function in all things, but he indulged in that most common of immortal fetishes: all replacement flesh for his future deaths must precisely match that of the original. He had lost the original so many lives ago so as to render any lingering significance irrelevant. Rather this was a calculated choice, the permanence of his noble form a constant reminder to those around him of his otherness, a pilgrim on the path to an apotheosis that they will never walk.

Preliminary reports for the skirmish in GE- had already been replaced with a final battle damage assessment during the tyrant's rebirth. He scrolled through the force disposition, destroyed ships highlighted in crimson red to honor/shame the fallen. He frowned as he stopped on the loss of his own Curse force recon vessel, crimson pulsing dully behind the text bearing its name: Dictator. As expected the engineers on nearby vessels recorded the Dictator had been overwhelmed, shields instantly collapsing under the strain from a massed volley of 1400mm macrocannon slugs. He involuntarily closed his eyes and felt the intense heat as his ship incinerated all inside and turned to nothing. His frown turned into a snarl as he suppressed the pain being forced on himself by a brain still convinced it was dead and finished reading the reports.

They had never had a chance. Many immortals refer to the system of GE- as the 'Thunderdome', an archaic reference to a meeting ground for fleet skirmishes of all size where commanders and pilots clash to test their tactics with bloody result. The tyrant his led his fleet into the system chasing easy prey, but his greed had got the better of him and he had over committed his ship to run down a pirate cruiser bleeding atmosphere from a number of breaches in its hull. But this prey had summoned friends to avenge its loss, interdiction probes trapping the Dictator as the enemy battleship fleet casually snuffed it out with the press of a button.

The lift decelerated to a stop and the doors slid slowly open to reveal a personal hanger. Garst strode forward to a waiting orbital shuttle, open hatch a loving embracing to return him to his rightful destiny written in the stars. As history has shown, that destiny proved to be very bloody indeed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gods And Monsters

Solar System: Uemon
Region: The Forge
Constellation: Mivora
Security Level: 0.2
Location: Perkone Factory Caldari State

Lights flickered then dimmed in the Perkone Factory Caldari State station's corridors, marking the midnight hour. The holographic walls lit as nearly one hundred photos with names beneath flashed onto the screens, an honorary tribute to those who had died within the last twenty four hours. Her blue gaze skimmed across the montage as she stopped to catch her breath. She'd been running the upper deck where most of her corp-mates kept small apartments.

None of the faces looked familiar, but she hadn't really expected to recognize any of them. They were strangers, mostly crew members of her corporation and alliance. Mortals. Brave men and women who signed up to fly with the capsuleers, knowing that they weren't likely to make it to old age. Or the next week, for that matter. It was always a risk, but their families were well compensated.

Capsuleers rarely gave their crew a second thought. Their own lives were practically immortal. Death was a temporary thing, less than a second while consciousness was transferred from a dying pod to a new clone. Though some higher ranking crew members were privy to escape pods, many were not. If the ship were to go down, so would they.

Capsuleers would never suffer such a fate. They were Gods.

And sometimes monsters...

Her brow furrowed as she took a moment to look at each individual face. When she flew for the Empire, crew members were rarely recognized. Many were slaves- though never on her ships. They were disposable, treated as another part of the ship, as if they were a thing and not a living, breathing person.

But here, they were recognized. Their sacrifice noted. Honored, even. She found it strangely comforting.

She rubbed the small of her back as she started walking towards her apartment, cooling down from her run. The corridor was quiet and empty. Most N.M pilots were asleep at this hour, and she had yet to sync with their circadian rhythm. As she turned the corner, she nearly collided with Mystical Might, a pilot she had known for nearly the length of her capsuleer career. Sometimes friend, sometimes enemy, his loyalties changed on the flip of an ISK coin. She drew up her hand and balled up her fist out of instinct- he had podded her last he'd seen her in space.

"Whoa," he yelped while grabbing at her hand as it came storming towards his face. "What the hell is that for?"

"For podding me, you leech!"

"Oh." He smirked, "That. It isn't my fault you warped to a gate in a pod. You should know better."

She pulled her hand back while glaring at him, "And you should know better than to kill so-called friends."

He folded his arms and leaned against the wall, "Hey now. You weren't the only one. Several of you warped in at once. Luckily I scooped up your corpse."

"Creep," she rolled her eyes. "I didn't think you were into that."

He held up his hands defensively, "I'm not. I was contacted by someone offering 150 mil for it."

"You're joking."


"Who?" she asked.

"Hasan al-Askari Mujahideen. Whoever that is," he replied in a lazy, carefree voice.

"Fucking hell, Myst. That guy is crazy. He's been mailing for some time now begging for a corpse to do God only knows what with." She felt sick to her stomach. "I can't believe you sold me."

"Hey! It was 150 million ISK," he said, as if that made it any better.

"Whatever." She shook her head. "What are you even doing here anyhow? You don't live in Uemon."

"I do now."

"You joined Tri?"

"Yup. Today."

She slung her head back and sighed deeply.

"So," he asked, "Does this mean we can be friends again?" He extended his arms, offering a hug, "C'mon. I've matured, I swear."

She eyed him for a moment then stepped closer as if she were going to hug him. Instead, she sucker punched him in the gut. "You should know better than to leave yourself vulnerable," she smirked as she took a few steps away, out of arms reach. "And yes. Now we can be friends."

He grunted as he grabbed his stomach, "Fine. I deserved that. We good?"

"Yeah, we're good." She started towards her apartment while speaking over her shoulder, "And don't sell any more of my corpses, damn you."

"Lucky for you I don't awox," he called out.

She rounded a corner and paused to admire the atrium that separated one row of apartments from another. Foliage hung from hovering planters in the center of the atrium, trees grew up from the bottom. She moved to the glass divider and leaned against it, peeking over to count the levels. Each floor would house a division of Triumvirate. She knew that the floor below No Mercy's belonged to VOLTA, but she was unfamiliar with the rest of arrangement.

A shadow fell across the atrium and corridors as a chimera floated above the dome overhead, blocking out the natural light from the nearby sun. She glanced up to admire the massive warship as it drifted across the station. Once it was out of view, she dropped her gaze and gasped when she spotted Garst across the atrium. Their eyes met and she stared at him for a long moment as something he said to her years ago whispered in the back of her mind.

"...all things must come to an end so greater things can begin. Change breeds strength, and you will be stronger for it."

Recognition flashed across his face. Of course he remembered her. She was foolish to believe he would have forgotten her, no matter how much she had hoped to slip in underneath his radar. His brow-line creased.

An explosion overhead lit the atrium in a myriad of colors. She glanced up to watch the wreckage raining across the dome, a thousand shards of metal cascading through the air. It was beautiful, though something deep inside of her knew she shouldn't appreciate the beauty of such brutal carnage.

She dropped her gaze, searching for him, but he was gone. An old memory echoed, "I would have moved the stars in the sky to get to you..." 

She chewed her bottom lip nervously as a chill of unease slithered down her spine. "Well. Here I am. Let's get this over with, shall we Garst?" she whispered to herself as she stepped into her quarters.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Into The Fold

Solar System: Uemon
Region: The Forge
Constellation: Mivora
Security Level: 0.2
Location: Perkone Factory Caldari State

She woke up in a cold sweat, her heart racing as blood pumped furiously through her veins. She realized it was just a dream as she blinked her eyes open. The horrific images began to fade, but the emotions lingered. Cold, oppressive fear slithered down her spine and she felt as if she were smothering. She gasped and tried to force her breathing to steady, telling herself that it was nothing more than a nightmare.

Sliding her hand through her blonde strands, she sat up and pulled her knees to her chest. The black silk sheet did little to warm her chilled skin. Teeth chattering, she turned her gaze to her captain's quarters. The room was unfamiliar and for a moment she had forgotten where she was. The realization came quickly as the corporation's logo flashed along one of the screens on the far side of the wall. She was in Uemon, in a cheap rented apartment on the space station that her new corp currently based out of.

Trimuverate. No Mercy. Garst Tyrell.

Fragmented memories rushed through her mind at once, filling her thoughts with flickering scenes from many years ago. The memories played like a bad melodramatic holo-reel, distorted shards of their past twisting and turning, as if being viewed through a kaleidoscope.

Once, he had been her superior in PIE, but also her friend. A mentor, who bought her her first slicer and taught her to fly a harbinger. Her hero, when he captured the star system Kamela.

And then he changed. Everything changed. She became afraid of him as he turned his back on her beloved Empire. His lust for blood out-shadowed her naivety and her idealistic imperial dreams. She played by the book, followed the rules and upheld the law.

He made his own rules, own laws, and forced those he fought to submit to his terms. He was a glorious and ruthless leader. A true conqueror of men, of space, of fame.

"You can't just take what you want." she had said to him once.

"Recent history says otherwise, and frankly, I'm beginning to like it." 

His arrogance infuriated her. His ruthlessness terrified her. When he left their old corporation, he took some of Amarr's best pilots with him, nearly crippling her militia. She had never forgiven him.

She slid out of bed, wrapped up in her sheet and settled down onto the sofa to mindlessly watch the news reports roll across the screen. Incursions. Sovereignty changes. Concord. Though she tried to focus, her thoughts drifted, haunted by years old memories. One of their last conversations played through her mind.

"The ONLY good thing that came out of that bastard organization was that it showed me how NOT to run a corporation... and you. You really were a lucky find. It's a shame you threw away what I would have given you. Everything. I would have given you everything."

She shook her head. "I don't believe you. You left, Garst. You walked away from PIE, the Empire, me. You didn't even tell me you were going."

"The Empire and PIE have no place for men of ambition anymore. The frontier, that my dear, is where great men will make their mark and carve the next empire. Where the weak perish and only the strong survive. Yes Shalee, that is what I crave. Not the slow death of a complacent empire but the chance to make my mark or die trying on the edge."

"So go," she said dismissively. "No one is standing in your way. Go conquer it all for all I care."

"So that's it? Goodbye and good luck? Don't let the door hit you on the way out?" he said.

"What else do you want me to say? You are leaving regardless," she argued.

"Then convince me to stay," he said.

"You wont. There's nothing I can say to make you stay. I can't compete with your quest for glory, for your need to conquer."


"Maybe? You know I'm right. I never could compete."

He was silent.

She stared at the holographic screen, challenging him. "Fine. Stay. I want you to stay." 

"Why? So you can have something for you and your friends to hate. A puppet to point to and say 'Don't end up like that, oh ye faithful?' I don't want to stay. I want you to come with me."

"Come with you? Abandon the Empire? For what? To what avail?"

"Because I want you to come. Because I want to open your eyes and show you wonders you've only dreamed of, temptations you've denied for so long. There are no rules on the frontier. Only survival and victory."

"And this is what you desire?"

"I desire you. I always have."

It had been over five years since since he had uttered those words to her. Five years of her serving faithfully, dutifully, in the Amarr Militia, rising to the rank of Divine Commodore. She lead her own corporation, and then alliance, which became a dominant force in the Bleak Lands and surrounding systems.

He never looked back.

Five years, and she gave it all up in an instant to search for a illusive Sani Sabi sect that had infiltrated Triumvirate as they had her own corporation. At least that is where the intel was leading her.

Impulsively, she applied to his corporation, and without a word, was accepted.

Just like that. He hadn't contacted her or cared that she was there. No doubt, if he even remembered her at all, she'd be just another gun to him. Another soldier to fight his war. Raphael had told her, "I don't think he's given you a second thought, honestly."

And that was probably for the best...

[ 12 hours earlier ]

Shalee blinked open her eyes as the liquid drained from her pod. The murky, amber fluid flushed into the metal grating as the pod opened. The automatic clone-jack wires unplugged and coiled into the pod itself. As the mouthpiece fell from her mouth, she looked at Raphael who was standing there, arms folded, staring at her. She took a step forward onto the metal grating, dripping water. "I knew we would run into each other but I didn't know it would be so soon."

Raphael frowned at her, his voice a mixture of anger and confusion. "What are you doing here?"

She threaded her fingers through her soaked hair and squeezed the excess water out. "Joining your corporation. That's what."

"Why are you here?"

Shalee stared at him for a moment, "Why are you here?" she asked as she laid her hands on her hips loosely.

"Answer my goddamn question! You have no business here. Go back to Huola."

She lifted her chin, her blue eyes blazing with a sudden rush of anger. She knew she was going to have to face him and explain, but she didn't know it would be so soon. "But I do. And it is *my* business."

"Why can't you just fuckin' leave me alone? You made your goddamn choice, go fucking live with it. Let me be!"

Her thin brows furrowed, "And so did you." She kept her hands on her hips, chin raised imperiously, meeting his glare with one of her own, "So move it. You're in my way."

He threw his hands into the air. "What the hell does that mean?"

"It means you're blocking my way and I want to go take a shower. That is what it means. Now move. You have no right to be in my personal hangar." She shoved at him with one hand.

Raphael grabbed her by the wrist, "We don't need you here, go back to Tiger."

She jerked her arm, trying to pull away from him, "And yet I was accepted into your corporation, so someone needs me." She frowned at him, "Why don't you go back to Sara."

Raphael twisted his face in incomprehension. "Who the hell is Sara?"

"Jerk," she stared at him, hot anger flashing in her eyes, "So you've already broken off your engagement?"

"What the hell are you talking about!?"

"The woman you came here to marry?"

He looked at her, mute, unable to make any sense of her.

"Sara Morgaine? Red headed Khanid...." she explained.

"I don't know what you're talking about and I think you're just trying to weasel your way past me with this bullshit."

"Whatever," she said sarcastically, convinced he was lying. "Can you let me pass?"

"Why are you here?" he asked again.

"It's none of your business. Contrary to your belief, New Eden doesn't revolve around you. Nor do I. Now please, let me pass."

He practically threw her wrist back to her. "Do what you're here for and then get out and never bother me again."

She scoffed, "How am I bothering you! You're here in my chambers."

"You've come all the way out here to the other side of the cluster, and just happen to join the same corp I've been in for half a year!"

She rubbed at her wrist, "No. I'm here for a reason. I'm looking for someone inside of Triumvirate."

"What, need a second suitor again?" he said derisively.

She rolled her eyes, "You're an ass."

"Yeah, you're so much better."

"I wont be in your way. You'll hardly know I'm here."

"I can only hope."

She frowned deeply. "This is the first time we have talked in months and all you want to do is yell at me. Typical."

"You marry Tiger while I'm away. Marry him! The man who cheated on you! Who lied to you about it! Got someone else pregnant! Then you run up here and act like we're going to be the best of friends?"

She dropped her gaze as she huffed out a breath. Emotions overwhelmed her at once. "First off. I heard you were seeing someone else and that it was serious. Secondly.. I was a wreck and needed someone and you weren't there."

"Heard from who? Because I can guarantee you it was a lie. And a wreck over what? And why didn't you contact me? You know I'd have come, but what, because I wasn't living at the Terrace you felt I was "not there?"

She tilted her head, her blue eyes lingering upon his face. A part of her wanted to tell him everything right in that moment, but he was so angry and hurtful, she couldn't bring herself to say the words. "It doesn't matter."

Raphael looked at her plainly, his face a mask of anger and disappointment. "Well I don't know how you ever expect me to understand anything when you never tell me anything at all."

She blinked as tears started to pool in her eyes. They glistened beneath the light of the hangar as they dripped down her cheeks. "There's so much you don't know...and wouldn't understand."

"So you don't even try to tell me. I understand. Why waste your time, right?"

She shivered as the artificially cool air blew against her pod-suit. "You'll only hate me more. Don't you think it is hard enough facing you now? Knowing you hate me?"

"I don't know what you expected me to do after what you've done to me. Was I supposed to be happy that you "finally found someone?" Tell me why you're expecting any sympathy at all."

"I'm not expecting anything from you," she said softly.

He stood there saying nothing, while looking at her, his face stern.

"Can I at least take a shower first?" she pleaded.

"I already said you could go," he said slightly dismissively.

She nodded and brushed past him, heading into her captain's quarters and made her way into the bathroom for a long, hot shower. A while later she exited her shower, having changed into some baggy cargo pants and a tee with a Concord star across the front.

Raphael had moved himself to the couch and she joined him on the opposite side. "Do you want a drink?" she asked as she threaded her fingers through her damp hair.

He shook his head. "No," he said shortly.

"Alright. You want an explanation." She bunched her hand up in her wet hair. "A long time ago, after us the first time. Right at the beginning of Eran. I met up with Zenton, I was upset. He calmed me down and one thing happened after another...and I ended up pregnant."

He raised his brows in disbelief and said with a hint of sarcasm, "One thing lead to another."

"We weren't even a couple- he was a pirate, then. And that is when things weren't safe for me, not that they ever are." She frowned at his sarcasm. "You know. Never mind this. You can leave. I don't owe you anything."

"I'm not talking about you 'betraying' me with this, mistake? Just how you simply smooth over it so blase' like."

She frowned, "We weren't together at the time." She pulled her feet up onto the sofa and rested her chin against her knees as she drew her legs to her chest.

"I know that. I just said that I'm not holding it against you. But pregnant?"

She nodded, "I wasn't with anyone. So I wasn't protected. It just happened. But I never told him. I never told anyone because those times were so dangerous. I didn't want a child to be used against us. And so I clone jumped out and had her adopted out in secret. I tried to forget about her, all these years, I tried to pretend she didn't exist. But she was always there, in the back of my mind. And Red picked up on it and Red found her." She glanced away, staring at the big screen across the room, though she paid no attention to what was flashing across it in bright red letters. "The Aposi, a Sani Sabik sect, was watching, in the background. And they found her. My daughter. And they killed her."

"They were watching what?"

She chewed her bottom lip. 'They were watching me. Red. I didn't know. They waited, and waited all this time, to really hurt me."

"So they found her through Red? The little wraith that I wanted to get rid of because I was afraid of information leaking out? And why would this 'Aposi' want to hurt you?"

She shook her head softly. "Who knows? A part of me thinks it was to settle an old score between them and my Father. But he is dead, so. I don't know. That is the point. I am blind in all of this. But I do know that they are everywhere. In the shadows. Hiding. But I will find them. And I will kill them."

"What does that have to do with you being here?"

"I'm following a lead, that someone in Tri is Aposi."

"Why didn't you ask Tiger? He's a blooder, I'm sure he's got connections."

"He was never a blooder. And not all Sani Sabik are connected."

"He was Revan's right hand man. You're going to tell me he wasn't a blooder?"

"Yes. That is exactly what I am going to tell you. They aren't the same thing."

He frowned and crossed his arms. "Fine. So you're here looking for blooders."

"Ones who killed my daughter," she said.

"You think that the ones who killed your daughter are in TRI."

She shook her head, "I don't know. But maybe. That is why I am here, to find out." She exhaled a soft breath. "I just hope it isn't Garst." Her eyes flicked to his, searching his face as she asked, "He can't be...can he?"

"I don't think he's given you a second thought, honestly. Why didn't you send anyone else to come out here and do this?"

"Because I don't trust anyone else to do it. And if I find them, I want to be the one to kill them."

Raphael continued to frown, arms crossed over his chest, "Well how about I look into it and you can go back to Huola where it's safer."

"I told you. I have to be here, cause if I find them, I have to be the one to kill them. With my own hands."

"Well I can call you if I find them."

"Why are you so keen on getting rid of me?"

"Because honestly, I don't want to be around you. "Never get married," you told me. Then the next thing I know I'm hearing from other people that you and Tiger and now husband and wife. It really doesn't make me want to see you, either in person or in space."

"I'm sorry, but I heard that you were seeing someone. From other people. And it just happened. But you can't deny me my justice. You can't, Raphael. They killed my daughter."

"Yeah, I'm sure it "just happened." I'm sure "one thing led to another" and you just ended up married." He stood up, "You know, if you thought I was seeing someone else, you should have confronted me. God knows you've done it enough in the past, it's not like you don't have any practice."

She dropped her head, burying it against her knees. Her hair fell around her face and legs in a silky curtain.

"Best of luck with your hunt," he said as he headed towards the exit. He opened the door, but before leaving he turned back around one more. "Oh, and of course congratulations on your nuptials," he said sarcastically before leaving.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kenzi Created, The Story of a Clone

I tucked my hair behind my ear as the soft, balmy breeze fluttered blonde strands about my face. I could feel salt clinging to my skin as I inhaled the sweet scent of the nearby ocean. I paused to savor the fresh, crisp air. Sunlight dappled the ground as it bled through the foliage overhead, casting Cerra gardens in a myriad of light and shadow. It was beautiful. I continued my walk through the lush landscape, pausing to admire a particular blue flower imported from Adia.

Memories of Adia, the planet of my birth, fluttered through my mind. Some deep, dark part of me longed for what I once knew, despite how when I lived there, all I wanted to do was leave it.

I laughed with scorn as the traitorous thoughts drifted through my mind. I couldn't believe I actually missed them. I thought of my father and brothers. My Father had been a Holder, a favorite among the royal court. His natural charm wove a spell over most anyone he came into contact with. My brothers were the epitome of noble elegance. We lived a beautiful, privileged life. On the outside, anyhow. Very few were privy to our immoral, Sani Sabik secrets.

Oppressive emotions swirled as I remembered my life- the life that was stolen away by another. My last original memory before awakening in a cloned body was of my Father, telling me that the medical scan wouldn't hurt, that it would be a quick and painless procedure. He squeezed my fingers and smiled indulgently. I wondered how it was possible to both love and hate someone with equal passion.

Little did I know in that moment that the procedure was to secure a brain scan for cloning purposes- a safeguard in light of my last suicide attempt. I would never be allowed to leave my family. Even dying wasn't an option.

The scan was tucked away somewhere safe by my Father and somehow along the timeline, was discovered (stolen?) by Tigerfish Torpedo, and activated. Five years had passed between that mindscan and when I was awakened.

Later I would learn that I was an illegal clone of Shalee Lianne- though in my mind, Shalee was a copy of me.

I was familiar with the details of Shalee's life. She ran away, and was taken in by some mercenaries. She became a capsuleer, then a spy. She found love in the Imperial Militia and stayed. Her career was impressive. She climbed her way through the ranks, and became a Divine Commodore. She flew with some of the best capsuleers in all of New Eden. She was fiercly loyal to Imperial Militia and those she loved and cared about.

Yes, I was familiar with the course of events that could have been my life, of all the choices the clone had made. I knew far too much about what had happened in the life of her. Our namesake. Shalee Lianne.

A name that had been my own with a history that was mine too.

Because of the choices Shalee had made, some noble, others horrific, I was brought into existence, born into the world-into a stolen clone of Shalee aboard the Indefatigable in the deep recesses of Null Sec. Brought to life by Shalee's then ex, who had obsessed over her so much that he couldn't bear to be apart from her.

And so he cloned her.

He secretly brought to life my scan- a seventeen year old Shalee, one that had been on the cusp of womanhood, living under her Father's rule. Tiger kept me hidden away in lawless space for months, filling my head with lies about what all had happened with my family- coaxing me into trusting him, building a relationship with me, and waiting for me to fall in love with him.

It almost happened.

He showered me with gifts, and spent an enormous amount of time with me each day. His seduction was slow and methodical. He kept me secluded in space, away from everyone that I had ever known, 'for my own safety'. I wasn't allowed contact with anyone, even his own crew.

Despite my seclusion, I was rarely lonely. I could sit for hours at the view-port and gaze out at the stars. Space agreed with me; the haunting beauty of planets and moons illuminated by colorful suns, nebulae and space dust utterly fascinated me.

I was happy, for once, living under the illusion of having 'freedom'. I was allowed to explore the ship to my heart's content- only I wasn't allowed access to the holonet or communications. For my own protection, he said, and that of the crew. We were cloaked, drifting aimlessly through space.

It was a peaceful and quiet sort of existence, until Lasairiona Raske, Tiger's mistress, had surprised him with a visit and found me instead. Illusions were shattered as I realized that Tiger had lied about everything.

Lasa had filled me in on the last five years. I was a copy of another. She told me how Shalee had became a capsuleer, and had met Tiger. The two eventually became engaged, though she had broken it off because she felt Tiger was keeping secrets. And her gut feeling had been right, Tiger had indeed been keeping the biggest secret of all- that he had a mistress whom he impregnated. With twins.

I made a rash decision in that moment and asked her to help me escape. When Tiger had returned to the Indefatigable, he found it empty, though he must have realized what had happened. There would have been a record of Lasa boarding.

She had been gracious enough to leave me with a bit of ISK and a warning to stay away from Concorded space. If I were found, Concord would be forced to eliminate both me and the other Shalee, because it was forbidden for two clones of the same person to be active at the same time.

I was left with nothing, lost in space and time. Drifting aimlessly, with no place to call home because she had claimed it. I couldn't contact the people from my past because they no longer belonged to me. I was an abomination, an unnatural thing created from the whim's of Tiger's twisted, dark obsession.

I ran and I hid until I had used the last bit of ISK Lasa had given me. In desperation, I tried to access funds that were left to me by my Grandmother. Of course access was denied; apparently Shalee had changed the access codes...but that one attempt was enough to pique the interest of someone who monitored all things digital in Shalee's life.

They called her Red.

Red, a childlike avatar of Shalee's subconscious, kept a watchful eye in the holographic realm. She haunted anything she had access to, constantly prying into Shalee's affairs, and those of the people she was close to. Red manifested in the real world too via holodrones. She projected herself as a child and carried on her own agendas, because as Shalee slept, Red would awaken. When Shalee awakened, she'd never remember what Red had done. But Red remembered everything.

Red found me in a boarder system near Empire after I tried to withdraw ISK that was rightfully mine. I can't even describe how utterly bizare it was to carry on a conversation with a hologram of my five year old self. She helped me, though. She gave me enough ISK to stay on the run, with a warning that I should never enter Concord space. If I tried, and was caught by Concord, it would be the end of all of us- no questions asked.

As I hid, Red informed some of Shalee's most trusted friends of my existence. Aldrith Shutak was the first to find me. He offered me an apartment and visited me frequently. He had planned to help me create a new identity. I was then entrusted into the care of Raphael Saint, another who had put me under lock and key with offers of a new identity.

Hide, they said. Be someone else, they said. Our lives depended on it, they said.

But it wasn't fair. It wasn't just.

I hated it and wanted no part of a new life. I wanted what was rightfully mine. Someone else had been living my life all of these years. An impostor. And yet, I realized I was just as much an impostor as she. None of it was fair, to either of us.

Yes, I'll admit it. Some dark part of me, that part honed by the Sani Sabik, thought about killing her. It would be too easy to murder her and take her place. I doubt anyone would have realized until it was too late, and then what could they do about it? Some nights I'd let the fantasy play out as I lie in my bed in my humble apartment hidden away from society. Kill her, and become the Cerra Holder. Claim everything- our past, everything that was rightfully mine, and everything that she has built afterwards. Take it all.

I almost did it. Once. I went to Cerra Manor as her. I knew she was away, and that there wouldn't be a chance of us being at the same place at the same time. I had it all down pat- her clothes, her hair. I interacted with her friends on the terrace easily enough...and then I saw him.

Tigerfish Torpedo.

The man who was responsible for everything. My very existence...and my utter misery.

I didn't go there with the intentions of killing him, but the opportunity presented itself. I lured him out onto the beach, pretending to be her. He followed like the lovesick puppy that he was. I got him into a compromised position and I did it. Just like that. I murdered him with a blade I had taken from the terrace. In that moment I unleashed months of fury as I drove the blade over and over into his chest. As his blood splattered my face and dripped down my wrists, I stared into his lifeless eyes and spit in his face.

I hated that man more than I hated anyone in my whole entire life.

Though he died, it gave me little relief or comfort. He was a capsuleer, after all. He would clone, and suffer little for all that he had done. In fact, he wouldn't even remember me killing him since he died out of a pod.

But the seed had been planted. I would destroy him. Somehow. Someday.