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.