Her hologram roamed the terrace while she slept nearby, curled up on an outdoor sofa in the far corner. Rain splattered onto the retractable roof and puddled in the gardens. The occasional rumble of thunder reverberated in the distance.
Red, the name given to the holographic, child-like subconscious manifestation of Shalee, stood guard at the entrance, watching as Vlad Cetes exited the landing pad in the distance and made a brisk dash through the rain to the terrace. He gave her a quick smirk as he passed by, on his way to the bar. He pulled off his jacket and shook it, dripping water onto the flagstones.
The holographic girl followed after, giggling as she mimicked a robot, arms and legs stiff, her voice metallic, "I am Vlad."
"Oh, free entertainment," he looked to her as he settled down onto a bar-stool and ordered his usual. Vodka, straight up.
As Tigerfish Torpedo entered the terrace, the hologram froze, then frowned while rolling her eyes.
Vlad Cetes smirked. "Maybe she will do an impression of you," said to Tiger.
Tigerfish Torpedo frowned at her as he neared the bar, "I doubt it."
"I am Tigerfish," Red said, mocking his Civire accent. "I blood people." She ran her finger across her throat as if it were a knife. Blood spurted, and dripped from her small pale throat and splattered onto the lacy white dress she wore in her holographic form.
Tigerfish exchanged a glance with Vlad. "Seems she does a better impression of you then me." He grinned, and turned his attention back to Red. "I don't do that any more."
The little girl blinked. "I don't believe you," she announced in a sing-songy voice. "If it were so, you wouldn't block me out of your stuff."
"My stuff?" he asked, brow quirked. "What do you mean?"
"My communications? When did you even try to access them?" Tiger asked.
The little girl rolled her piercing blue eyes again, "Lots and lots. You didn't want me to find out your secrets, but I did find out about Erica, didn't I? And I left it on her holo-pad." She pointed to Shalee's sleeping form, looking pretty smug about the whole thing. "And you got in trouble."
"Who is Erica?" Vlad asked.
"A girl," Red answered, while keeping her gaze glued to Tiger.
Tigerfish nodded. "So it was you? Well, you have my admiration, Red. You're more cunning than I ever imagined. But," he paused, "you need to face facts. That beautiful woman..." he gestured over to Shalee. "... is my wife."
Red lifted her gaze to the sky and gave a loud, exasperated sigh. "I know." She sulked, "She's even tried to lock me up cause of it and it is all YOUR fault!"
Tiger looked to Shalee's sleeping form and smiled at her. "Red, you and I don't have to be at loggerheads. I'm no more a Blooder than you."
"Says the other person who the Covenant recognized as a keeper of the faith," Vlad countered.
Red glanced down at her bloodied dress. "I get tired of her believing in you." She smoothed her hands down her dress, then flicked her gaze to Vlad. "Is that so?" Her interest was piqued.
"Of course it's not," Tiger said, turning his icy glare over from Vlad to Red. "Red, I'm not willing to argue with you over this matter. Shalee has every right to believe in me, for I'm a much better man than the one she first met."
Vlad clicked the holo emitter for Red, and uploaded the security footage from Silas Vitalia's party from over two years ago. Silas Vitalia, the beautiful Imperial-turned-Blooder. She had been a friend to Shalee long before she defected.
Red bunched up her brows and pursed her lips as her gaze settled upon Tiger. "Dunno why I should believe you. I know that you lie a lot."
"Then don't believe me. Frankly, as long as Shalee loves and believes me, I'm sure I'll be alright." He gave the girl a smile and turned away from her.
Red frowned and crossed her arms, her lips tugged into a full blown pout. "You know that I know what she thinks." She looked at him matter-of-factly, then grinned smugly as if she had a secret.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Tiger asked with a hint of worry edging his voice.
The hologram smirked. "Not telling."
He shook his head, "You know nothing. She's my wife and she loves me."
Red dropped her head and lifted her blue gaze to him, her expression eerie, "Oh, I know everything."
Tiger glanced over to Shalee, her form peacefully resting on the sofa, deep in sleep. "Is that so? Then deliver the blow you crave and tell me."
"I don't have to tell you anything." She turned her back to him and swept her hand in front of her dress, instantly changing it into the crisp, white lace that it was. "Voila!"
"Red," Vlad spoke. "What is your goal?"
Tiger answered. "To split me and Shalee, obviously."
Red nodded, agreeing. "And maybe you could die too." She raised her chin imperiously and said, "I wanted her to marry Eran. Not you."
Tiger drummed his fingers on the surface of the bar, "Eran? What, Eran Mintor? You genuinely think he'd have been a better choice for her, then I?"
Red nodded matter-of-factly. "Yes. He was always nice to me. Brought me things. Played with me. Took care of her. What do you do?"
"I could have been just as nice to you. But you're horrid; not a good little girl at all. In fact, you're a bad girl."
Red gasped and stomped her foot. Rage flashed across her face, her tiny hands balled into fists. "No I'm NOT!" She glared at him.
"Yes you are," he pushed. "Whereas I've changed myself for the better, you're still the same spiteful little girl you were when we first met." He shook his head softly from side to side, and added, "It's really very sad."
"Does Shalee know of this?" Vlad asked. "This desire for Mintor instead of Tigerfish?"
Red ignored Vlad as she darted her gaze around frantically, searching for something, anything, to hurt him with. Since it had been raining, the retractable roof had been pulled across the terrace, with several lights dangling down, illuminating the area. She focused on them, causing them to explode, one by one.
Tigerfish looked up as the first one exploded, ducking his head to avoid any debris. His mouth opened and he tried to speak, but his words were drowned out by the exploding bulbs.
Vlad flicked a bulb fragment out of his left arm. "Red, control yourself. Now."
Red found no satisfaction in the paltry display. She searched the terrace but nothing else was manipulatable. No doors to slam. No other electronics around that she could access. She glanced to the landing pad, her mind reeling with the possibility, until Vlad scolded her. She settled her angry hot gaze upon him. "Why should I?!"
Tigerfish looked over at Vlad. "Leave her be. She's angry that she's lost all control over me." With a somewhat smug grin - like the one Red had a little while ago - he looked back to the girl. "Admit it, you've lost. Shalee and I are married."
Time seemed to stand still for the little girl as Tiger looked at her with such smug satisfaction. "It's not over. You've won nothing..." she said in a very low, whispery voice. "Your wedding vows mean nothing because you've said them before."
"Shalee Lianne is the first person that I have seen actually control Tigerfish in a long time. The last one is presumed dead." Vlad said.
"And with Shalee, it'll be the last time I say them," he said, bowing his head to Vlad in response to his comment. "Red, I love that woman."
Predator Elite entered the terrace wearing his old beat up fleet commanders jacket in time for Red's temper tantrum. "And I HATE YOU!" she yelled at Tiger.
"Well isn't it lucky you're not married to me, then?!" he responded, his voice raising a little - unaware of Pred's arrival behind him.
"Maybe Red should be a fleet commander in Goonswarm with that display of anger," Vlad smirked.
Predator glanced over to Red and Tiger yelling, "What's going on?"
The holographic little girl noticed Pred's arrival and screamed at him, "WILL YOU JUST HIT HIM FOR ME!" she thrusted her finger in Tiger's direction. "Hard!"
Pred quirked a brow as he looked to the girl, "What is wrong?"
"She doesn't like me," Tiger said.
"Because I hate him and I want you to hurt him for me!"
"Why do you hate him?" he asked as he took a seat.
Tiger smirked. "Because Red's a big meanie!"
The child took a step back, annoyed that Pred didn't instantly do her bidding. She put him on 'The List Of Men To Hate', and turned her back to him while glancing up, frowning because there are no more light-bulbs to explode.
"These holo units do have power off switches, correct?" Vlad asked.
Red glared at Vlad. "Don't you dare."
Pred pulled a toy holo-ship and held it in his hand, stretching it towards Red. "If I remember right, you used to love these things."
The girl smiled, calming as she connected with the holo-ship. An eerie smile stretched across her mouth as her temper tantrum dissipated instantly. She focused on maneuvering the ship, "I bet I can make it fly," she said as it lifted into the air.
"So Red how have you been?" he ordered a drink from the waiter.
Tiger moved away from the bar as Red became distracted by the holo-ship, then approached Shalee's sleeping form on the sofa. Kneeling down by her side, he brushed a strand of hair from her brow and placed a soft kiss on her cheek.
Red shrugged her shoulders, "Fine." She swayed her finger in the air, causing the ship to fly towards the back of Tiger's head. But as Tiger kissed Shalee, she awoke, and the ship crashed to the floor before it reached him, and the holo-drone deactivated as Red disappeared.
Shalee sat up with a start, having a lingering feeling of hot rage coursing through her. She could never remember Red's explorations, and rarely knew what her digital avatar got herself into- unless Red specifically left her clues. But always, she'd feel the last remnants of emotions, though it surprised her how deep the rage simmered within. Unadulterated hate pulsed through every fiber of her being. She shook her head, trying to bring the emotions under control as she looked to Tiger.
Smile, she told herself. Play the part. Buying time, she yawned sleepily and glanced to Predator and Vlad. "Did I fall asleep?" She then noticed the broken glass, and glanced up to see all of the lights were out. "What happened?" she asked, though she had a pretty good idea judging by the tidal wave of emotions crashing through her.
Tiger placed his hand over hers, tapping it softly. "It's nothing, and yes, you've been asleep since I arrived. I didn't want to wake you though - you looked so peaceful."
She flicked her gaze back to Tiger and forced an adoring smile. Play the part, she told herself.
Another voice, a tiny child like voice echoed in the back of her mind, "Just kill him."