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, October 24, 2017

Wishes and Wants



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We can neither confirm nor deny."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Because we need you to sleep."

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

"Do you want to see your daughter?"

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

"Who?"

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

"No. Possible involvement."

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

"Possible. Although he may behave irrationally."

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

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

"Yes."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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


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



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Lose Myself In Reverie


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It paid off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Go on."

"Lord Sakakibara has joined Shadow Cartel."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elisen nodded. "Of course."

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

"Yes."

"And?"

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

"What do you mean?" she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh? With who?"

"Viscerus."

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

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

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

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

"I shall try."

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

Lianne,

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

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

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

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

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

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

-G.
___

Shalee

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

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

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

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

Tyrell

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

I will terminate you.










Thursday, September 14, 2017

Noble Origin

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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

Five years ago...

"I cannot forget about you, no matter how hard I've tried. Come away with me, let me love you like you should be."

"I'm not some prize to be claimed, Garst."

"Of course not! It was destiny that brought us together. My love is unconditional, no matter where my work takes me."

"Leave me alone," she pleaded softly. "I need time to think."

"I love you. What is there to think about?"

A few weeks ago...

Solar System: SAH-AD
Region: Etherium Reach
Constellation: N-APJ8
Security Level: -0.2
Station: Sad XIX Dont Fight Triumvirate

Emerald lights flickered along the corridor of the Gallente-styled space station in the SAH-AD star system, the new home to her corporation and alliance. They had moved the two jumps in a matter of hours, with hundreds of ships ferrying back and forth between star-gates. She wasn't sure the reason of the deployment, but it wasn't her place to ask questions. She simply did as she was told and got her things moved as swiftly as possible.

She found her room at the far end of the upper deck, near a series of elevators. As she keyed in the generic pass code, the door slid open. Once inside, she set up a personal pass-code, then made a quick walk about the room, checking to see that her clothing had been sent up. A few unopened crates were stacked up neatly by the closet. She quickly unpacked her few possessions, making sure to hide her sidearm in the safe inside the closet.

Once she finished, she exited her quarters to explore the new station. As she stepped into the corridor, she heard a familiar voice. His voice. Garst Tyrell neared, talking into his neo-comm to one of his subordinates on the flight deck. She gasped as their eyes met. She could feel her pulse quicken as his harsh gaze bore into hers. He scowled, his lips pressing together into a hard, thin line. She expected him to say something but he merely turned and disappeared onto the lift.

Her heart skipped out of rhythm and she felt as if she were going to faint. She shuddered, recalling the audio clip that someone in the upper echelons of No. Mercy secretly sent her; a recording of his orders regarding her after she had joined his corporation. "You are going to follow her. You are going to have your agents follow her. You are going to intercept her communications. You are going to feed her false intel and see if turns up on the net. You are going to break into her room and riffle through her god damn underwear. Turn the place inside out, but make sure she doesn't see you. The same damn thing you do over and over, you do it well, and you do it right. No mistakes."

"I love you, what is there to think about?" How quickly the line between love and hate eroded all those years ago.

She leaned against her CQ's door for a full five minutes, waiting to make certain he wasn't coming back to float her out of an airlock before starting her exploration. Not wanting to run into him again, she decided to explore the Commons- an area on every station where the lowest dregs of society congregated. There was no possible way Tyrell would sully his reputation by slumming it, of that she was certain.

She located the usual operations: Gambling dens, whore houses, fighting pits, and black market goods. Capsuleers were drawn to the rush, in or out of pod.

Pulsing music reverberated into the corridor. The ceilings burst with a kaleidoscope of color as ads for each establishment flashed in time with the music. A couple of Gallente men dressed in shiny black pants- and nothing else, catcalled her as she bypassed the more nefarious, hedonistic hubs. Chuckling, she kept moving until she found the bazaar. The bazaar was full of 'local' goods from nearby planets and usually more tame than the Commons.

As she paused to admire an amethyst necklace from a Caldari vendor, she noticed a pair of dark eyes intently focused on her. A chill snaked down her spine as she wondered if it were one of Garst's agents following her. Pretending to be oblivious to him, she returned her attention to the jewelry, biding her time until a large crowd came passing by the booth. She slipped away, pushing herself in between a pair of Jin-Mei capusleers. Without checking to see if he followed, she quickly ducked into a dimly lit corridor and walked through the shadows to the next vendor. A blood red sign pulsed above the archway, though she couldn't read the ancient Intaki. A spicy scent permeated the air, something exotic and alluring. Stepping through the archway, she glanced around the room. On one side the vendor sold charms, candles, ritual books and spell items. The other side lead to another area of the shop, though she couldn't tell what was beyond the curtained doorway.

Keeping one eye on the entrance, she pretended to take an interest in the items for sell. "You have an interesting display," she remarked casually to the dark Brutor who hovered behind the counter. He was the darkest Brutor she'd ever seen, his skin inky black except for a few swirling tribal tattoos in white along his biceps.

He chuckled, and gave her a toothy grin in return, "Fancy anything, M'Lady?"

"Hmmm," she tapped her fingertip to her mouth as she looked over the goods. "I don't think so. Just browsing, really." She decided most of the items would be contraband in the Empire, anyhow.

He tipped his head towards a brightly curtained door, "Then perhaps M'Lady would like her fortune told?"

A skeptical brow shot up, though she smiled politely. "I don't really believe in such things. I am afraid it would be wasted on me."

He chuckled, "That is what they all say, until they actually meet Madam Croiset."

Fine. I'll play along, she thought as she asked, "Who is she?"

He nodded towards the curtained door, "Why don't you go and find out for twenty ISK."

Shalee hesitated for a moment, then nodded with a sweet smile. It would bide her some time, and perhaps the agent would give up looking for her. "Yeah, okay. Why not?"

After paying for the session, she stepped through the curtain and felt like she was passing into another world. The entire room was black, void of any color except for a fire brazier in the center of a small table. Flames danced eerily, casting shadows into the dark corners. The spicy scent was was heavier in this room, almost overbearing. Madam Croiset sat at the end of a small table and wiggled her fingers, motioning Shalee over. "Come in, have a seat." Her accent was thick, though very charming.

Shalee smiled and crossed the room, "Thank you. It's very dark in here..." She took a moment to study the psychic. Inky black hair framed a pale white face. Shalee couldn't make out her age, though she had a timeless air about her. She could be anywhere from thirty to one hundred and thirty.

"The dark gives me focus. Now, give me your hand, child."

Shalee took a seat opposite of the medium and laid her hand out onto the table, palm up. "I suppose this is the part you tell me that I have a long life ahead of me and that I'll marry a tall, rich, and handsome man." She blushed sheepishly, "Sorry. I don't mean to offend."

Madam Croiset smiled indulgently, "You forgot dark and mysterious."

She chuckled, "But of course."

Madam Croiset adjusted her golden monocle and leaned over Shalee's palm, studying it. She stroked her long, pale finger along the inside of Shalee's hand and traced a single line. "Interesting pattern, but not unique to a capsuleer." She lifted her sparkling green gaze and looked at her intently, "What really intrigues me is the haunting."

"Pardon?" Shalee's brow shot up, "What do you mean?"

"I see spirits all around you."

Shalee resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Ah...I see. Who's?"

Madam Croiset darted her eyes around, looking over Shalee's shoulder. "Lives you've taken."

Shalee imagined a legion full of ghosts swarming her. Really, what capsuleer hadn't been responsible for thousands of deaths in the time of war? She usually didn't think about such things; it was far too depressing. It was easier to put it out of her mind and chalk up her kills to the necessity of war. For years she had fought for the Amarr Empire, and now for Garst Tyrell. Either way, duty was duty. In combat, it was kill or be killed.  "There isn't a station big enough to house the spirits of my dead, I should think." She stood, tiring of the charade. "Thank you for an amusing time."

"Wait. There are three."

Shalee tilted her head with her arms folded loosely in front of her. "Fine. Who are they?"

Croiset shook her head, "I'm not sure. But one has a message for you..."

She sighed with annoyance, "Yes. Of course one has a message for me. A dire one, no doubt. And if I should pay you a few more ISK you'd be more than happy to tell me, is that the gist of it?"

"Please stay." Her eyes narrowed. "It's about your daughter...," she whispered compassionately. "

***

"We lost her."

Xavier huffed out a breath as his fingers tightened around his comm-link. "How the fuck did that happen? You had one goddamned job. To follow her."

"She gave us the slip near the Commons."

"What was she doing there?"

"I don't know. Shopping?"

Xav muttered under his breath, "You don't know? You don't fucking know? What, precisely, do you think you're getting paid for?"

"She made Maulder, we think. Once she spotted him, she uh...just slipped away," Jameson replied weakly.

His tone was incredulous. "Just slipped away." Hot anger flashed in his blue-black eyes. "Pray you don't find out what Tyrell does to incompetent employees." he warned, just before killing the communication.

Xavier settled down behind his desk and raked his fingers through his hair with a frustrated sigh. He pulled the security feeds up from around the Commons, each camera drone casting a small display against the opposite side of the room. Hundreds of scenes played out before him in real time. He watched each simultaneously, his implants allowing him to absorb data lightning fast, and with exact precision. Every detail unveiled before him throughout the Commons, though he dismissed most of it as unimportant.

"Where are you..." he muttered to himself as he waited for Shalee to pass by one of the live feeds.

An image from one of the seedier bars caught his attention.

[Deck 42, Security Drone 3947] The beautiful Esharan draped an arm across the shoulder of a pale blonde Amarrian woman and pulled her in for a drunken kiss. Their tongues danced against one another's, lapping eagerly, bodies close.

He quickly diverted his attention to another feed, forcing himself not be aware of what was happening between the two women.

Easier said than done.

The images flowed into his consciousness and played at the front of his mind.

[Deck 42, Security Drone 3947]  Esharan broke the kiss, her lips wet and a little bit swollen. She grazed them across the blonde's throat hungrily, her tongue lapping at the other's pale skin.

Cursing himself, he enhanced the feed and activated audio.

[Deck 42, Security Drone 3947] "You're quite tasty," Esharan whispered seductively against the Amarrian's ear. She nibbled her earlobe, then darted her tongue out to trace the line of her jaw. "I bet you're even tastier here," she stated as she boldly slid her hand beneath the girl's skirt.

The Amarrian gasped as she held her head back, a look of pleasure beaming from her half-lidded eyes. "You don't even know my name."

"Is that important to you?," Esharan asked with a sultry tone as her hand moved rhythmically under the tiny black skirt.

"Lauren. My name is Lauren," the girl said, just before clamping her teeth down onto her lower lip, stifling a moan.

"Want to go into the back and have a little fun, Lauren?" Esh asked as she pulled her hand up from between the girl's thighs and licked at her fingers. 

Lauren nodded with a wild, eager smile, "Yes, please."

A trickle of sweat beaded on Xavier's forehead as the two women disappeared into another room. He forced his attention elsewhere, until he caught sight of them again in the long, dimly lit corridor behind the bar. They stepped into a private room- or so they thought, and started to shed one another's clothing.

With a guilty feeling settling into the pit of his stomach, he queued the audio in their room and enhanced it. He wanted to hear every little moan uttered, every little gasp given.

[Deck 42, Security Drone 3954] Esharan climbed onto the bed after Lauren stretched out across the mattress. Her pale skin flushed with desire, her arousal blatant and glistening between her parted legs.

Esh teased her fingers along Lauren's thighs as she kissed the girl's bent knee. "I didn't think Amarrian girls were allowed to play with other girls like this," she said in between small, butterfly kisses along Lauren's inner thigh.

"W-we aren't supposed to...." Lauren's fingers curled into the red sheet, her knuckles white. Her taut stomach undulated, quivering as Esharan neared her pink, soft center.

"Your secret is safe with me," Esh said, revelling in the musky scent of the Amarrian, her mouth hovering, increasing the other's anticipation. "Is this your first time with a girl?"

"Uh huh..."

As Esh lowered her mouth to claim the girl's forbidden innocence, Xavier forced himself to focus on another drone. He searched the crowds strolling through the Commons as he listened to Lauren's throaty moans.

"God-damn," he swore, as he glanced back to the couple, watching as positions were changed.

[Deck 42, Security Drone 3954] Esharan maneuvered herself over Lauren's lithe little body, her weight supported by her long, sinewy limbs pressing into the mattress. Moans were muffled as each sought the other's pleasurable spot. Hands roamed along Esh's back and buttocks, fingers frantically clasping at the girl as she learned to give as much as she took.

Pleasure exploded for one, then both. Their cries of ecstasy sent a shiver down Xavier's spine. The torment of listening to them became almost unbearable. "Again, please," he heard Lauren demand, seconds before he killed both audio and video.

"Ok Xav. Focus," he told himself out loud. "Where would she go, and who would she contact next?"


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Accusations and Allies



Xavier slouched against the atrium wall with his arms folded loosely across his broad chest. He'd been up most of the night and he was beginning to feel it. Exhaustion settled in, making his eyes water. Yawning, he covered his mouth, then rubbed at his face. He'd been camped out in the corridor, waiting for Shalee Lianne. A call to arms had just pinged over their comms.

He checked the time, then looked to Shalee's door, anticipating it opening any second. With a weary sigh, he paced closer, moving out of the way as two Cybershield pilots made their way to the flight deck. Their voices faded as they stepped onto the lift. As the doors closed to the lift, Shalee's door opened. She stepped out wearing a loose fitting black jumper over her pod suite with the Tri logo in bright red across the chest.

'She looks as tired as tired as I feel', he thought as he approached her, swiftly cornering her before she had time to react. His hands slid on either side of her head and braced against the wall behind her. "Going somewhere?"

Shalee gasped, her lips parting slightly, eyes widening with a mixture of curiosity and alarm. "Yes..." She stared at him as she lifted her chin, her expression instantly changing into one of haughty imperialism. A Holder's daughter, and now a Holder herself. Yes, he knew who she was. He had researched her for hours after Alexi had left. "Move it. I don't want to be late for fleet," she said as she lifted her hands and shoved them against his chest.

"Not so fast." He studied her face, noting the dark shadows beneath her eyes. Obviously she hadn't had much sleep lately, and was probably surviving on stims and caffeine. The war with Nulli was taking it's toll. "You have some explaining to do."

Shalee looked at him oddly, as if she couldn't quite figure him out. "About?"

"Last night."

Her brow arched as her mouth slanted into a frown. "I'm afraid you'll have to be a little more specific."

"Stop playing coy." He leaned in and whispered against her ear, "I'm on to you."

She shoved at his chest again as her eyes lit with panic. "Get off of me."

He kept his arms rigid while leaning in closer, so close that their bodies were touching. "Not until you tell me how you did it."

Her stormy blue eyes flashed with anger. "Did what?" she asked through gritted teeth. "I don't know what you're talking about, but, this little fright game you're playing? It is tiresome. So I suggest you run back to Garst and tell him I'm not fucking afraid of him or his over sized goons. Now get the hell out of my way!"

Xavier cocked his head, surprised at her sudden rant, "What are you even talking about?"

"What are you talking about?" she countered hotly, her face flushing.

He puffed out his cheeks, annoyed with her. "Look. You've been spying on me, and I want to know why."

Her expression remained passive, though something in her eyes let him know she was lying even before she opened her mouth, "I'm not spying on you."

"Yes. You are. But why? Who am I to you?"

She shook her head slightly, "You're no one to me and I don't have time for this conversation. I do not want to be late for fleet! So get the hell out of my way before I...." her voice trailed off, as if she were uncertain to what she'd do.

He smirked, "You're not going anywhere until you answer my question. Why are you spying on me? And how did you get access to my personal captain's quarters?"

A look of confusion swept across her face, "I don't have access to your quarters."

"Then how the hell do you explain your daughter coming into my room last night while I had company..."

"Daughter?"

"Yes. Your daughter. She had to be yours. She looks just like you with those slanted, Ni Kunni eyes. I saw her, Shalee."

A trail of crimson dripped from her nose as her eyes rolled back in her head. She slumped down the wall as she lost consciousness. He stretched his hand down her back, grabbing a hold of her.

"Goddammit," he uttered beneath his breath as he hoisted her up and carried her into his quarters.

***

Consciousness came slowly, as if she were fighting her way through a dark tunnel. Her senses came into focus one by one. With her eyes still closed, she lay there for a long moment, listening to the sound of some years-old Gallente song playing over a holonet. Somewhere, further away, a male's deep voice sang along with the song. The cloying scent of booze, expensive perfume, and sex permeated the air.

Sex? Her stomach lurched. Did she just have sex? No. That wasn't right. Wetting her lips, she could still taste the metallic tang of blood. Rolling her hands along the silk sheets, she pushed against the mattress and sat up while blinking open her eyes.

Her blue gaze darted from side to side as she skimmed it across the unfamiliar captain's quarter. In the dim light, she could make out a well stocked mini bar across the room. The closet door was open, exposing a row of expensive suits. She slid to the edge of the bed and reached for one of the empty bottles nearby, reading the label. She whistled at the price, certainly more than she'd ever spend on a bottle of champagne. Hell, it almost cost as much as what she'd pay for a cruiser.

She rubbed her hands along her face, massaging her thumbs against her temples, trying to rub away the headache that pounded since she had awoken.

"Where the hell am I?" she whispered to herself.

The singing stopped.

"Hello?" she called out in a worried tone.

Steam wafted into the room as the bathroom door slid open. The hazy silhouette of a tall, well built man stepped through the mist. A towel hung loosely around his hips, the only thing he wore except for the dog-tags that dangled together against his perfectly defined chest. Rivulets of water cascaded down his neck as he raked a hand through his short, wet hair. "You're awake."

She quickly averted her gaze as her cheeks flushed. "And you're naked." She could feel heat creeping up her neck.

"Not completely, but I can be if you'd like." He smirked as he tugged at his towel.

"Are all Gallente men this obnoxious?" And hot? Not that she'd give him the satisfaction of saying that out loud.

Xavier chuckled. "Probably." He poured two drinks at the mini bar. "You like whiskey, yeah?" He brought the two glasses over to where she sat and handed her one.

She took the whiskey while trying not to look at him.

He chuckled, seemingly amused by her discomfort.

"So. Why am I here? Please don't say we hooked up...." A look of panic flashed across her embarrassed face.

He cocked a dark brow, "You don't remember?"

Shalee shook her head no. "I remember getting pinged for an op. I remember..." her brows scrunched together. "Was I podded? But that wouldn't explain why I'm in here."

He took a sip of his whiskey while never taking his eyes off of her. "You fell. In the corridor. I was headed for the op when I saw you go down. I picked you up and brought you in here. I called a medic to look you over. He said you should be okay, to let you rest. I didn't bother moving you because I didn't know how to get into your room. And. I figured you didn't want to end up in medbay- there's no telling how long they would want to keep you for observation." He smiled charmingly.

She nodded slowly, oblivious to his lies. "Then I should thank you for coming to my rescue? And I probably should let you get back to what you were doing..." She stood, wobbling a bit. Her face flushed with embarrassment as Xavier jumped up and reached for her hand to steady her.

"Sorry. Still a bit light headed," she apologized.

"You don't have to go yet. We could get something to eat? I would suggest the chow hall but that place is shit."

She nodded, realizing it was pointless to try and catch up with fleet at this point. "Yeah, okay. Where would we go?"

"Hmm. We could stay here. Sit down. I'll cook for you," he offered with a roguish smile. "Some say I'm pretty good."

"Sure...if you put some clothes on." She grinned.

He chuckled, "Surprising. You're the first woman to try to get me into my clothes. Usually it is the other way around."

As Xavier sauntered off to the small kitchenette, she settled onto his bed to check her messages. She slid her thumb across the access pad, and frowned at the pile of unanswered correspondence.

From: Kahar Dex
To: Shalee Lianne, 
Lady Lianne, Would it be interesting to you join the ranks of Faithful Amarr in Providence?
Cardinal Dex

Her brow quirked at the message. Cardinal Dex, from CVA, was asking for her help? Did he not realize she was kill-on-sight to CVA and had been for years? Curious, but the next one even more so.

From: Sahriah BloodStone
To: Shalee Lianne, 
Lady Lianne, At your pleasure, I would very much like to continue our conversation.
My deepest respect,
Sahriah Bloodstone

She sent a quick response to Sahriah, letting her know she'd be back in Huola over the weekend and that they should meet at the terrace. Exhaling, she raked her fingers through her hair as she played through several different outcomes in her mind. The last she'd seen the girl, she purposely lied, claiming to be both Sani Sabik and Garst's lover, hoping that it would send her running off to tell Tiger. She needed to know just how close Sahriah and Tiger were becoming. He claimed he hadn't seen her but she knew better. She knew they had met recently. She just didn't know what they were up to. An affair perhaps? Or maybe he was grooming her in the Sani Sabik religion once more? So many unanswered questions rolled through her mind, each leading her off on a different tangent.

From: Shalee Lianne
To: Shalee Lianne
Trust Xavier, but don't trust Vlad. He wants to kill Tiger and he is bribing Lord Reginald's district governor.
-Red

The next mail had shocked her more than the previous two. So Vlad Cetes was up to no good? That should hardly surprise her. The 'robot' had no emotion, and no loyalty to no one but his own self interests. But he'd never worked against her that she knew of. Why would he want to murder her husband? And what did controlling Reginald's affairs have to do with anything. The sickening feeling that Vlad could be manipulating her this whole time made her cringe. As greedy and impractical as he was, she couldn't imagine him murdering a five year old child...could he?

She quickly killed her the holofeed as Xavier returned with two plates. "Dinner's ready. Hope you like Caldari Casserole."  He smiled as he motioned her over to the living area.

She slid down onto the sofa after taking the plate from him. "Xavier...when were you going to tell me you met Red?"

He blinked, startled. "Oh...you know?"

Shalee nodded. "Yeah. She left me a message and said I could trust you. Why?"

"She was here last night, playing around on your holonet. She saw some things that were hardly proper...anyhow. I thought she was your daughter. I confronted you earlier about it. I guess accusing you about your daughter was too much. You passed out and I brought you in here. She popped up and explained everything. Who she is, etc."

Shalee nodded, "I see."

"Look. I want to help you."

"How can you?"

An arrogant smirk stretched across his mouth, "I can get you those files you need and access into the upper echelon's security feed."

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Spy With My Holographic Eye

Solar System: C-V6DQ
Region: Etherium Reach
Constellation: H7Q-DG
Security Level: 0.9
Location: Don't Quit Now GEMICO Space Station


The hologram tilted her head as a look of surprise washed across her delicate, childlike face. Blue eyes widened as she spied on Xavier Marcell, who flew under the call-sign, BigThump, for the No Mercy corporation. Red had accessed his holographic display minutes prior, assuming that the man would be asleep. She had planned on peeking around his captain's quarters to see if she could gather intel on Shalee's corp mate, not that she had expected to find much, but, she was bored, and BigThump was at the top of Shalee's list.

The child apparition had little difficulty in spying on the lower members of the corporation thanks to a backdoor access security code given to her by Vlad Cetes. Like Viscerus, Vlad was more than competent when it came to acquiring data. The pair had made a deal. Whatever she found out she would have to share with him- which she didn't mind, she didn't expect to find much from peeking around in member's rooms. But, she had little else to do at the moment. And if she were lucky, someone might be lazy and leave a vital clue lying about, like perhaps a ceremonial Sani Sabik dagger or the blood raider robes. Probably not, but it was worth having a look. And anyhow, she was too inquisitive not to have a peek.

She made a little gaspy sound as she realized Xavier was not only awake, but he wasn't alone. Red absorbed the details with a swift glance. She saw him across the room in his bed with a Caldari woman whom she did not recognize. Black silk sheets rumpled, half laying across the floor beside the bed. Several opened bottles of alcohol littered the table nearby. Xav, nude accept for his dog-tags, fisted a hand into the long blonde curls of the Civire, the other slid to the naked girl's hip. His fingers curled into her flesh and he uttered a moan as he slid into her from behind.

The room filled with their lusty sounds: moans, groans, and animalistic grunting as Xavier shoved himself deeper and deeper into the Civire.

Red watched with wide, blue eyes, enraptured by Xavier's prowess. His muscles flexed with each thrust, his sinewy body magnificent beneath the neon blue lights that flickered overhead. The blonde girl splayed her fingers against the headboard, bracing herself while pushing back, meeting his thrusts with wild vigor. Her overly large breast swayed as Xav impaled her over and over.

The hologram cupped her hand and covered her mouth. She knew she shouldn't watch, but she couldn't quite pull her gaze away.

Xavier's hand slid from the Civire's hip and cupped the blonde's bottom, his fingers sinking into her pale flesh. The woman cried out as Xavier leaned over to graze his lips along the woman's back. Sweat glistened and dripped from Xav's forehead. He lapped his tongue along her backbone, then straightened up behind her. As he tugged her hair, the woman stretched her neck and groaned.

The hologram gasped as Xavier slapped his large palm against the Civire's ass cheek, no doubt leaving a red mark. "Is this what you want?" he asked in a raspy voice as the woman whimpered. "More?" He spanked her again, harder. "Is this how you like it?"

Red gasped again, the sound loud enough to break through the sexual frenzy across the room. Xavier turned his head to look at Red with utter shock. Red made a little 'o' of surprise with her mouth as she was caught spying, then suddenly disappeared from the room.

Seconds later, a hologram drone whirled to active as she accessed Viscerus Bent's Naglfar, assuming that is where she'd find the man. She found him in his office, his head buried in data files, as per usual.

"Ahem," she cleared her throat to get his attention.

He side-glanced her, "Hello poppet."

"Why do you always call me that?"

"It's cute. You're cute." He shrugged.

She giggled, "Oh. So guess what!" she said as she settled down onto the floor near him and conjured two holographic dolls to play with.

"What's that?"

"I just came from Xavier's room..." Her eyes widened, her face lit with mischief.

"Xavier?" he asked.

"BigThump, from corp. That is his real name. Xavier Marcell," she said it with a fake Gallentean accent.

"Ah okay. What were you doing in his room?"

"Oh. Just spying," she said casually.

"Spying...huh. How did you get in?"

She sighed, "Vlad gave me the security codes. But I can only get into certain rooms. Not Garsts."

Viscerus's face darkened, "In exchange for what?"

"I have to share intel with him," her tiny shoulders shrugged. "It doesn't matter."

"You should stay away from that man," Vis warned.

"Who, Xavier?"

"No, Vlad. He doesn't do anything for free or from the goodness of his heart. Hell, at this point, I doubt he even has a heart left."

She snickered. "I just have to tell him what I find. That's it."

He gave her a skeptical look. "Well. What did you find out about Xavier?"

Her blue eyes widened, "He likes to do it like the slaver hounds do." She cupped her hand over her mouth as she snickered.

Viscerus coughed and patted his chest, "What did you say?"

The holographic girl giggled mischievously. "I watched him do it with some girl I've never seen. Maybe she is one of the paid girls from the station lounge? But she wasn't Gallente. So I dunno. But! I don't think he is Aposi, or Sani Sabik even. So that is good news, right? With his banking connections, perhaps she can use him to get into the other files. Maybe he will help her."

Viscerus rubbed his hand along his face, his expression one of disbelief. "Why do you think he isn't Aposi?"

"Because he didn't have any Sani tattoos," She rolled her eyes as if that should be obvious. "And he didn't cut her," she said matter-of-factly. "Sani like to use blood when they do it."

"I..." he stuttered as his face flushed with embarrassment. "You shouldn't be spying, and you especially shouldn't be spying on people when they are having sex."

The girl shrugged, "Why ever not?" She danced her two holographic dolls together. "People have sex. And anyhow it is better to see them naked so I can see if they have the tattoos."

"Because you are a little girl, and little girls shouldn't watch those kinds of things."

"But I'm not a little girl. Not really." Her startling blue eyes slanted up, meeting his.

He considered her for a moment, "You take the form of a little girl. Why?"

She returned her gaze to her dolls. Her expression softened as she answered him in a whispery voice, "Because it was the last time I was truly happy."

"When you were five?"

She nodded. "My mother was alive. I didn't know that my father and brothers were Sani Sabik. I didn't know what went on in our house. Everything was perfect."

Viscerus raked his fingers through his hair, then adjusted his glasses. "That makes sense. I guess I never questioned why you appear as the child. You've been doing it for so long, it's almost like...like Red is a separate entity from Shalee."

The child nodded. "That is almost true. She can never remember the things I find out. But, I've been leaving her notes. I really think I can help with the investigation."

"You have to be careful. This isn't a game."

"I know." She rolled her eyes. "I know important it is."

He nodded, "Sorry. Of course you know."

She looked up at him, "I just want the Aposi found and dealt with so we can leave this place. I hate it here."

Viscerus frowned, "I'm sorry you hate it here. I can't imagine it is easy for you, especially dealing with Tyrell." He raked his fingers through his hair again as he sighed with frustration. "Can you change your avatar?"

Her tiny brow quirked. "To what?"

"Her."

"But why? No one has ever asked me that before."

"Because I feel like I'm talking to Shalee, not a child."

Red nodded, "Yeah. Okay." The hazy blue hologram flickered, then disappeared. A second later the image of Shalee appeared in holographic form. She smiled at him, "Better?"

He eyed her curiously, "Yes. Have you always used the child avatar?"

She nodded. "Pretty much," she answered in a voice that mimicked Shalee's, not the child-like apparition she usually used. "People seem to trust me more as her."

"Curious," he said.

"Isn't it, though." She moved over to Vis's sofa and stretched out on it.

"So what is your plan? To invade our corp-mates rooms while you're a hologram?"

She shrugged. "Might as well. It can't hurt."

"Unless you get caught."

"I wont."

He gave her a disbelieving look.

"Fine. I'll be careful."

"I'm worried about you. The Aposi have to know why you are here," he said.

She shook her head, "No, perhaps not."

"Why do you think that?"

"Because they don't know that I know who is responsible. And they don't know my history with Garst. We were corp-mates before. We were close...most people assume we were lovers. Perhaps they think I am here for him now."

Viscerus nodded, agreeing. "That is possible. And from an outsider's point of view, I guess it makes sense. Tyrell did name a station after you."

She nodded, "I was surprised to see that. I wonder why he did it?"

"Maybe...maybe he is still in love with you."

She frowned, "If only that were so. It would make everything so much easier..."




Friday, May 1, 2015

In The Shadows

Solar System: C-V6DQ
Region: Etherium Reach
Constellation: H7Q-DG
Security Level: 0.9
Location: Don't Quit Now GEMICO Space Station



Unease slithered down her spine. She could feel them watching her, though as she glanced over her shoulder, she noticed that the corridor was empty. Her blue gaze lifted, and she casually took note of the surveillance cameras placed sporadically along the ceiling. No doubt that's how they were keeping tabs. Stretching her hands above her head, she leaned from side to side, then doubled over, stretching her hands to the floor. Discreetly she noted the time, then mentally started the countdown. She had a matter of seconds to make it to the servant's passage. She started her run again, making good time around the upper deck where No. Mercy lived.

Just as she neared the door, the lights flickered within the station. The corridor went dark and she started to count under her breath, knowing she had precisely one minute to change into a servant's uniform and step back out into the corridor.

Her pulse quickened as she slid the uniform on over her clothes, then calmly stepped back outside into the dark corridor. Sweat trickled down the back of her neck as the lights suddenly flashed back on.

So far, so good, she told herself, then mentally thanked Viscerus for his nefarious hacking abilities. It bought her enough time to disappear from the watchful eye of Garst's surveillance.

Shalee stepped into the lift that would take her to the pent house in the C-V6DQ station. Her body practically hummed with nervousness, every fiber of her being felt stretched, taut. She inhaled deeply as she tapped in the servant's passcode that would gain her access to Garst Tyrell's personal space. Again, she thankd Viscerus for hacking the servant's data and acquiring the access code that would allow her to enter any room in Tyrell's suite.

She chose the time carefully after studying him for weeks, getting familiar with his habits. They had an op planned within half an hour, and before every other op, he had been near the hangars with the rest of his command.

Her breath caught as the lift ascended. She watched the neon blue numbers flash, and then finally settle upon -PENTHOUSE-. The doors slid open with a chime. She stepped out into the foyer, then made her way to the door that would lead into the suite itself. She repeated the process of entering the servant's code, then made her way into the living room. With her back against the wall, she waited, and listened, just in case. Hearing nothing, she continued on.

Having memorized the floor plan, she quickly darted down the corridor towards his personal office, assuming that is where he would keep his files. Relaxing somewhat, she keyed in the password, then checked her neo-comm, making certain that the op hadn't been called off. As the door slid open, she froze. He was there, at his desk. Thankfully, it faced away from the door, so his back was to her. She had a split second to make a move. No doubt he knew someone was there, but perhaps, just perhaps, he would assume she was a servant.

Garst Tyrell sat at his desk, staring into his computer monitor. He watched as map after map slid across the screen. Choosing one, he began to manipulate and study it. He picked up his drink and sipped it, then sat it back down without ever taking his eyes off the map. An alarm broke the silence, alerting him that he had no more than twenty minutes until he was due on the flight deck.

He stood and straightened his jacket, then picked up his glass as he turned around. He froze when he saw her silhouette in the dim light, standing in the darkness beyond the doorway to his office.  "You just made the last mistake of your life," he growled.

She could feel the blood draining from her face. Think, dammit. "Is that how you greet an old friend?" she said in the most casual voice she could muster.

He reached for his sidearm in a lightning quick movement but his hand relaxed on the leather holster as he recognized her voice. Then, slowly and measuredly, he moved his hand back onto the grip of the weapon. He placed his drink onto the desk without ever taking his eyes off of her, then folded his arms.

Shalee boldly stepped into the room, forcing one foot in front of the other. She dropped her gaze to his sidearm. The memory of him forcing a gun into her mouth flashed in the back of her mind. She forced those thoughts away as she tried to keep her fear pushed down.

"My friends don't sneak up me like a thief in the night," he said.

"How else am I to get your attention?"

"Who are you to deserve my attention?" He was conscious of the seconds ticking away, preparations still needing to be made occupying his thoughts, the thousands of crew and capsuleers that were even now awaiting his presence in fleet.

She clasped her fingers together loosely in front of her. "We were friends once."

He resigned himself to her inconvenience. They could wait on him. It's not like they had a choice. "That was lives ago. Why do you hang onto the past so desperately? I thought by now you'd have learned some perspective."

She could tell he was impatient, though guarded. At least he hadn't thrown her out the airlock yet. "You think that is what I am doing?" She nodded, "Yeah okay. I should go. We have an op soon."

"Not so fast. You sneak into my room, make me late for my own damn op, and then just say "forget it"?"

She made no motion to leave. Instead, she stood there, gazing at him, hoping that her fear wasn't bleeding through. "You want to forget the past....so...."

"Stop being so dramatic; just spit it out woman. What is it that's so important you couldn't mail or convo me like the rest of the corp?"

She bit her bottom lip to keep from being a total smart-ass. Inhaling a deep breath, she exhaled, then smiled in what she hoped was in an alluring way. "I wanted to have a drink with you. To catch up on old times. But, you're not interested. So I'll leave."

He stared at her for a long while before finally taking a second glass from a nearby shelf, carefully pouring a measure of whiskey, and holding out to her. "So drink."

Apprehensively moved closer to him and took the offered drink from his hand. "Thank you." Whiskey. Of course. She took a careful drink from the glass, trying not to wince as the amber liquid burned her throat.

He gulped down what was left in his own glass then placed it back on the desk. "You've been avoiding me. You think I didn't notice, but I notice everything. Nor am I stupid enough to believe that you broke into my home was because you wanted.. to what was it..? 'catch up on old times?' What a cliche, stupid line Shalee. You never were good at lying."

"I waited for you to make the first move." She finished her drink and sat it on his desk beside his empty glass. "And since you didn't, here I am."

He chuckled. "First move? Are we dating? I should thank you. You've been staying out of my way up until this moment magnificently, and it was appreciated. Shame you had to go and spoil that winning streak."

"I offered to leave."

"Yes, yet here you are. Very convenient, so now you have my undivided attention. You should have never came in in the first place! So spit it out! What is it you really want cause I'm already out of time and out of patience for games."

She bit her bottom lip, thinking. "Yes. Well, we have an op, so I'll just go." She smiled as naturally as possible, then turned around to head for the door, "Thanks for the drink."

He rushed behind her and pinned her against the wall with his body, arm across her throat. "You don't get to leave until I say so."

She tensed as she was shoved against the wall, "You could have just asked me to stay."

He looked her into the eyes for a few full heartbeats before stepping back, releasing her. He moved in front of the door, blocking her escape without having to physically hold her there. "Lets just get this over with."

She exhaled a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Her blue eyes widened as surprise washed across her face. She hadn't expected him to let her go so easily. "Get what over with?"

"The charade. This is the part where I ask you .. again.. why you are in my quarters at 0216 at night, stalking me over my shoulder as I work. This is the part where you will try to dodge the question until you can think up some flimsy lie or distraction to appease me. So then you will lie to me."

Shalee winced, knowing her lies weren't going to work. He knew her far too well, even if he didn't realize it. "I want access to your files."

Garst looked startled for the briefest of moments, then immediately regained his composure."

"Employee files. Both corporation and alliance," she continued.

"No."

She felt a new wave of fear coursing through her, expecting to be shoved out of the airlock in the next few minutes. "Yeah, I figured that is what you'd say. Hence me breaking in."

He growled as he grabbed her roughly, shoving her in front of him and throwing her onto the ground outside the door into the public hallway. He spoke into his communicator, "I need four armed guards on my room now. Make it happen... Yes now." He glared at her, "If you ever break into my quarters again or touch my corporate files, you won't be coming back in any new clone bodies when I'm through with you. I've got a fleet to run. Get out of my sight."

She scrambled to her feet. "Point taken." She exhaled a shaky breath, and backed away as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Lies We Tell Each Other


Solar System: Huola
Constellation: Sasen
Region: The Bleak Lands
Location: Cerra Manor

Evening sunlight flooded into her suite at Cerra Manor as she lounged on an over-sized, canopy bed, talking with her husband. She arrived the previous night, though he hadn't made it to Houla yet from his null-sec deployment. While waiting, she spent the evening on the terrace chatting with Lord Reginald Sakakibara and Lord Kailethre Ismaile. There was something soothing about being among polite society, where men treated her with the respect due to her Holder status.

Reginald had requested to stay at the Manor for a few days due to some stress at his Holding in Sasikeo and some problems with his wife, Lady Katerina Tzestu Sakakibara. Though she was sorry to hear of his troubles, she was more than happy to host him for a few days. She adored him and had often missed his company.

And then there was Lord Kaile. He seemed out of sorts and so she invited him to stay as well, and planned a weekend out of it.

Her Holding resided on Huola, planet seven, Cerra District-named for her ancestors. The manor house sat on a cliff near the ocean with several guest cottages on the property. The manor was open to the public, with a well stocked bar outside on the terrace. The place had become a favorite among many Imperial capsuleers, and various others who sought their company.

Shalee rolled her head to the side and feasted her gaze upon pewter sea beyond the opened balcony doors. White scalloped waves rolled towards the shore. Tiger stretched out beside her and placed a kiss against her neck. A smile curled her lips before she realized the familiar, warm feelings for him were probably nothing more than a lie. Their history was long, dark, and troubled. Though they had only been married a few months, they had been together for years. He loved her obsessively but there was some part of him that she would never be able to trust. Especially now, while she suspected he was part of the Aposi, a secret Sani Sabik sect responsible for the murder of her daughter.

It was a delicate line she was walking; pretending to be the dutiful, adoring wife, while she waited for him to slip up and show his hand. She wanted to believe he was innocent but it was too hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. He had lied to her so frequently in the past that she couldn't believe in him now, despite desperately wanting to.

Her thoughts drifted to Garst as she watched the rolling waves. The recording frightened her, more so than she would admit. When she applied to No Mercy, she had counted on him having forgotten her, but she had no idea that he would hold onto his utter hatred of her, even after all of these years. He loved me once, she thought sullenly. How can he think I'm spying on him?

"So, tell me, how are things progressing in Tri?" Tiger asked, interrupting her reverie.

"About the same," a pensive smile curled her lips. "I am taking it day by day."

"I'm sorry to hear that," he said. "I was hoping you'd have found something by now."

"I have some leads but nothing substantial at this point."

"Raphael still hardly speaking to you?" he asked.

"When he is around, yes. But I rarely see him. However, I have caught the attention of my old handler. He seems worried...he practically called me a traitor."

His brow creased into a frown. "Traitor? To whom?"

"The Empire, of course."

"How do you feel about that sentiment?" Tiger asked as he grazed his hand along her side.

"It feels horrible. But, I can understand why he would think that. I had to tell him the truth...I trust him," she said.

Tiger frowned, "Still, he has no right to talk to you that way. No one has done more for the Empire than you."

"It doesn't matter. I left the Empire. In their eyes it is pretty much means betrayal."

He sighed and changed the subject. "We should get some alcohol in for tomorrows boat trip."

"Sounds good. What do you suggest?" she asked, her thoughts drifting to the weekend with Lord Reginald and Lord Kaile.

"Some wine, perhaps? Maybe some Champagne?"

"Champagne, mmm, that sounds perfect."

"I'll sort it out tomorrow afternoon, before we set off."

"Strawberries too. It will go nice with the champagne."

"Strawberries? An excellent choice," he smiled. "Anything else you'd like?"

"Can't think of anything, no."

"You know, I can't even remember the last time I saw you wear a bikini..."

"Because you prefer me nude, usually," she smirked.

"You can't blame me for that...  and tomorrow I'll be wanting the same again. Yet, if Kaile shows up, a bikini will have to suffice."

She laughed, "Yes, of course. I have no plans on seducing Lord Kaile, if that is what you are wondering."

"I'm pleased to hear it."

She stuck her tongue out at him.

Tiger smiled and raised her hand to his lips. "I'm only teasing."

She brushed her fingers along his cheek. "I know, love."

Tiger held her hand softly against his cheek. "I've missed you," he whispered. "All I've had is a painting of you to keep me company for the last week or so."

She kissed him lightly upon his lips, "Well you have me now. All to yourself."

"Perhaps you should talk to Katerina...  if I'm to speak with Reginald tomorrow?" he said.

The thought of contacting Katerina frightened her. Kat had been her friend for years, the two had flown together in her old corp- but Kat moved on to the Legion. If Garst should find out she had such a friend in PL, he would assume she was feeding them intel. Or worse- that she was secretly a part of the Legion as well. "I will do that," she lied. "I need to catch up with her anyhow. I hope they can work it out." I hope she stays far away, the thought lingered in the back of her mind.

He smiled. "I never thought those two would hit the rocks so soon. I mean, they're good together," Tiger said.

"I know. I think it is just all the stress they are under, you know?"

"Of course. It's only natural, considering the circumstances."

"Mmmhmm." She curled up closer to him and laid her hand against his chest. "I'll send her a mail tomorrow."

Tiger relaxed, stretching his legs out, and carefully maneuvered her so that she was laying on top of him, "Excellent. You'll have to let me know what she says. I'm sure this is just a blip for them."

She wiggled on top of him, getting comfortable. She folded her arms across his chest and leaned her chin against her arms, staring at him. "And you'll have to tell me what he says."

He looked down his body, into her blue eyes as she rested on his chest. "I'm sure he'll tell you himself when he joins us on the boat. But if he doesn't, of course I will. I do hope Kaile won't be too mopey."

"I'm sure Lord Kaile will be mopey, but, only because he is going through a hard time. I'm hoping to introduce him to someone and get his mind off of things."

"Oh? Whom?" he asked.

Shalee's eyes lit with intrigue. "A girl I've met recently. She is pretty, sweet, and available, so..."

"A girl? What girl?" he inquired.

"Her name is Sahriah. She used to be in Militia years and years ago. She dropped by the manor the other day in search of Garst...which is odd, but perhaps she remembered that he and I flew together back then, and I'm in his corporation now. So. She must assume we are closer than what we are."

He sat up, supporting himself on his elbows. "Sahriah?"

She rolled off of him as he sat up. "Yeah?" She laid on her back, with her arm hooked behind her head, using it as a pillow. "Long before you ever joined Militia."

"Sahriah? Does she have a surname?"

Something in the way he said her name gave her pause. A hint of worry washed across her delicate face. "She does. Blood....stone? Something blood, I think. I don't remember."

"Bloodstone," he said softly, confirming the name for her. "Sahriah Bloodstone."

"Yes..." She stared at him with confusion, "That sounds right."

"That's a name I've not heard in a long time," he said in a quieter voice.

"You know her?" she asked.

He nodded his head. "I do, yes ...more, I did know her."

"How? Please don't say she's an ex lover...." Her stomach lurched. Anger pulsed, and her bright blue eyes fixated on him with a blistering stare. As much as he claimed to love her, their relationship was fraught with his infidelities.

He shook his head. "Fortunately, no. She was a pilot from an opposing corporation that I attacked. Had them thoroughly demoralized within a matter of weeks. They were losing members... I offered a cease fire, in exchange for a ransom."

"Ah. So she was an enemy?"

"Initially. After they paid the ransom, I offered to train them, and a few of their officers joined UPAY to learn from me. She was their FC."

"She was in your corp? Oh....I hadn't checked her corp history. How curious."

He nodded. "That was roughly eight years ago, when I served Revan. After several months, I even took Sahriah as my own Prathet. But she ran away, and I never heard her name again until just now."

She frowned deeply. "Sahriah was Sani Sabik?!" She sat up on the bed, then slid to the edge. "She was one of yours..." She shook her head in disbelief.

Tiger sat up and moved over towards her, sliding his arm around her, "Darling, you know I came with a past when you first met me."

She nodded her head slowly, "Yes. Of course." She forced her smile. "It was just a coincidence...one I wasn't expecting."

He smiled meekly and kissed her shoulder tenderly. "It was years before you and I met. She wasn't Sani very long...  Well, not that I recall. But she may have remained such since leaving me."

"I understand." She stared ahead as she dropped her hands to lap. "You said 'they' joined your corp. Who are the others?"

"There was a man very dear to her, a guy called Gemini...," he said, tapping his lip. "Tordanis. Then there were two others; Shantalis....  and Azani something."

She inwardly cringed as she heard the name Gemini. "Gemini Tordanis?" The name was very familiar. Gemini was in Tri with her. Not just in the same alliance, but the same corp. That couldn't be a coincidence. "I see." She smiled again, then changed the subject. "We should do lunch on the boat, don't you think? Make a whole day of it?"

He began rubbing her shoulder as she changed the subject, massaging her muscles with his thumb. "Of course. Anything you like, darling. You only need name it."

She relaxed slightly beneath his touch. It was easier playing the part of adoring wife and Amarrian hostess than to think about Tiger and Sahriah and their bloodied history. "I want our guest to have a good time."

"So do I..." he said, trailing off. "Wait, you didn't invite Sahriah, did you?"

"No. I only invited the other two late last night. I've not seen Sahriah since then.

He smiled and lowered his hand from her shoulder. "Very well, darling", he said in a soft, gentle tone. "What do you reckon we could do to increase their enjoyment?"

"I don't know much about Lord Kaile, so I don't know, really."

"Hmmmm. I've only met him a couple of times. What about Reginald?" he asked.

"You know Reginald as well as I do."

He thought for a moment, "Maybe some fishing. That's quite relaxing. I'll talk to him tomorrow."

"That will be fun," she said automatically.

He moved back onto the bed, and rolled onto his side, watching her from his side of the bed. "For now, however, I want to see your sunbathing attire for tomorrow..."

She laughed suddenly. Of course that would be on his mind. "I'm curious. Why didn't you sleep with her?" she asked as she headed over into her walk-in closet.

"Sahriah?" he asked after her. "I don't remember much from back then. I probably suggested it a couple of times, but nothing ever came of it"

She took her time, changing into a tiny, pale yellow bikini inside of her walk-in. "Why didnt you make her?" She checked her reflection in the mirror before stepping out into the bedroom.

He cast his eyes down her body, sweeping lower and examining every curve of her figure. "I could have, but decided not to. Perhaps I didn't want to make her succumb to my desires."

She dropped her hands to her lithe hips, showing off her willowy body, "That is odd. I mean. Why did you hold back during those times?"

He looked back up her body, to meet her gaze. "Would it have done me any favors now, had I made her give herself to me?"

She shrugged lightly, "Very well. I'll drop it."

"Thank you", he said, offering her a seductive smile. "Surely you can't be upset over something that happened three years before we met?"

"No, but I find it suspicious that she all-of-a-sudden shows up where we live, and fails to mention that she knows you." And that she was a goddamned Sani Sabik.

...and the person who murdered my daughter was Sani Sabik, the thought hung in the back of her mind.