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."

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