“Do you love her?”

There’s a wisdom that children possess all of their own, even if it stems from a ghostly, holo-projection of a consciousness resembling a child. Reginald looked up from his drawing of Red–he had started it on the Terrace a few days before but had returned to it for a little more detail work. It was lying on an elevated drawing platform, which was shaped like a wedge, on his writing desk. Somehow, the fact that it was a sketch of Red rather than a painting captured her spectral appearance quite well. He wondered if she was watching him.

Reginald first met Red when he was still new to the Terrace, before he was a participant in the mad ballet. He had been speaking with Kat–funny, how he referred to her as “Kat” recently, when it was Katerina or Miss Tzestu back then–when a holodrone activated, projecting the image of a little girl. Kat had not minded at all, though Reginald, wounds from Huola still fresh, treated her as he would an actual ghost. Red told them about the Blood King among other things and then she had disappeared.

That was something that they shared, at least, a general distaste for the “Blood King”–Red’s nickname for Tigerfish Torpedo. Reginald was unsure how deep her aversion ran, but he imagined that she wouldn’t be too upset by his attempt to get Tiger arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. There was always risk for those who labored for true justice, though he would prefer to remain on friendly terms with Red. She was a part of Shalee he could actually enjoy, the part that didn’t judge him for his feelings for Kat–the one that didn’t try to force a courtesan on him. He shook away the embarrassment from his face, then penciled in an adjustment.

All it took was a chance meeting to spark a fascination. After that, his mind began to churn tirelessly at the question of Red’s existence and how deep her knowledge and observations of the happenings of the Terrace went. And then he was locked out of his room, his box sitting behind doors with the automated repair capabilities equivalent to a Hyperion-class battleship. He needed someone to open the door and Red, for better or for worse, was the natural choice.

He peered down at the drawing, adjusting the lamplight slightly. He was falling behind on his game with her–to retrieve her things from the Keep. A toy Imperial Navy Slicer, a hover car, two dolls, and a drone that “lets me have a real body,” Red had said. He wondered if they were still there and if they were still in working order. But no matter the trial, it was his first quest in their private game against the Blood King. And he had no desire to lose to a monster.


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