Game Theory 1

Reginald wiped some of the sweat off his brow. He had removed his tunic in favor of a collared shirt, though even this had long since been rolled up for the sake of freedom of movement. The smell of the sea wafted gently through the open doorway that led to the balcony, no, his balcony. Yet, he was beginning to wonder if the aroma was truly worth the 30 degrees Centigrade and ninety percent humidity. Sighing contentedly after finally pushing a writing desk into place, he looked over to a control panel on the far wall from where he was standing. H was loathe to adjust the environmental settings of his quarters. Doing so, he felt, would have marred the feeling of authenticity.

The night prior, his executor, Lady Shalee Lianne, had been kind enough to show him the room. With white sheets draped over furniture long since in disuse, the sparse decoration made the room look much larger, especially as the sunlight peeked in through a series of large windows. The lighting alone made his heart skip a beat, but he immediately fell in love with the abode when he saw the view.

“It’s perfect.” He had told her as the new light of dawn caressed the gentle waves of Huola VII’s horizon.

His only initial concern about the room was when Shalee revealed it had once belonged to her father. Her father had been a Sani Sabik prince.

“Does this room bother you?” Reginald had asked, mulling the question over carefully.

“No. With his things gone, it doesn’t feel the same. And as you move your things in, and decorate the walls with your drawings, then the energy will really change.”

And that was that. With a few words and a rather uneventful morning–aside from his antics on the railing of the balcony–the room had become his.

Taking up quarters at Cerra Manor had been in the back of his mind for several weeks. That he was only moving in now spoke volumes of the hostility he had encountered upon first setting foot on the Terrace. Between Tigerfish Torpedo, who continually asserted that Reginald had romantic designs upon Shalee, and his robotic henchman Vlad Cetes, whose only real allegiance was to ISK, Reginald had found himself a reluctant participant in a delicate ballet of intrigue. For his own part, he didn’t actually know where he stood, nor did he know all of the major players. A man like Tigerfish was easy to read, easy to get responses out of, easy to obtain information from, but there were others biding their time, looking on as the “child CEO” of Heart of Pyerite settled into the alliance hierarchy. And Reginald barely knew their names.

But some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, such as the former Sani Sabik, the murderer Tigerfish Torpedo. As much as Reginald respected the romantic feelings of his executor, in his opinion, Tigerfish was less a man and more an animal wearing human skin. An animal of a man who had admitted to murdering innocents, who treated Shalee like–. Reginald stopped the thought. It was no use getting angry about it. There was simply too much he didn’t know and Shalee was clear she loved Tigerfish. And as much as Shalee’s action of providing a home for Heart of Pyerite demanded loyalty, so too did her declarations regarding her personal life demand respect.

Reginald looked down at the writing desk and frowned at its physical state–the journey through space was less than kind. Shaking his head lightly from side to side, he walked over to a cart one of Shalee’s maids had left in the room earlier. Sifting through the various cleaning supplies, he chanced upon a bottle of wood polish. With the bottle and a few rags in tow, he set to work on the desk.

Politics. Having survived the break-up of two alliances, he was far from a stranger to it–the endless probing of weaknesses and sensibilities to attempt to broker a favorable response for this and that. Taxes on moon mining starbases? Threaten to shut them down. Demanding a sudden change of doctrine? Smile to alliance leadership on the one hand but cater to the corporation with the other. And if there was ever an issue so massive that he couldn’t directly contest it? Allow bureaucracy to grind down the resolve of the one pushing the cause. Emotions tended to be stamped out by a month-long wait of bouncing e-mails back and forth to such and such of this division or sending a message marked “priority” up several chains of command to be inevitably lost in the mess of communications. Bureaucracy was the greatest weapon at the hands of any CEO in a large capsuleer corporation. But he didn’t have a month with a collar around his neck.

He ran a hand over his neck absentmindedly. How long had it been since then? A week? Two weeks? He returned to polishing the desk, unwilling to return to the familiar thoughts of that night. Despite his best attempts, his mind wandered back. For all of the suffering, for all of the coughing, and for all of the pain, it had been the first time since before Huola that he had time to himself. Tending flowers and cleaning a Solarium seemed so enjoyably simplistic in comparison to managing contracts, overseeing starbases, and adjusting market orders. Maybe he should try delegating? He shook his head violently at the thought. There were myriad demands placed on a CEO, especially one who found it difficult to trust anyone. He looked around the room–indeed, he had expressly asked to not have help in setting up his new quarters. So why had he trusted her enough to actually put the collar on?

Too many questions. No, too many unanswered questions. Questions in and of themselves were supposed to result in answers, in useful information that could be utilized in the future. He loathed useless questions–rhetorical questions, questions he already knew the answer to, questions he asked himself but didn’t know the answer to–those were signs of a weak mind, of a mind that needed to hear its own voice.

Brushing off the last of the dust from the writing desk, he knelt down to examine the surface at eye-level. His mother had always taught him to pay keen attention to detail–you never knew what some people could miss that a closer eye might be able to find. Ah, yes, there it was: an errant mark, six inches from the anterior left corner of the writing desk, plain as day. He took a cloth and buffered it out with some fresh polish. He stood up, admiring his handiwork for a precious moment. A soft breeze blew in from the sea, rustling curtains and billowing the white bolts of cloth left on the dresser and mirror. He noted the hour, minute, and second and noticed that he didn’t regularly do that at the Manor. He was slipping.

Perhaps it was time to return to Saikamon.

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