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.