Vangr apprehensively stood the center of the old theatre and watched the chartreuse man tinker with the mannequin upon the wide and dusty stage, crimson curtains hanging above like clouds of blood.
“Just you and me now, Mr. Vangr,” the tinkerer declared with vague amusement, without turning from his labors.
Vangr shifted from foot to foot upon the mildewed and heavily carpeted flooring. He didn’t like the place. The dead-eyed dolls. The hideous masques that leered from the walls. The make-up tins and wigs and corsets. The whole of the establishment, a temple to deception.
“We need to talk.
“We’re talking now.”
“About what I’m owed.”
“How fortunate Grazen and Moreno died before the curtain’s fall.”
“Because now there is no intermediary between you and The Federation, but me. And so, if I were to tell them, no, no, it wasn’t he that bungled it. No, no, it wasn’t his incompetence which allowed the specimen to get away. It was Grazen and Moreno’s orders… well, who is to say otherwise?”
“And you’d do this for me because?”
“Because, like you, I never cared for The Federation’s politics, or Aestival’s theology. Every oath of loyalty, a fetter. Every system, a cage.”
“Kryos once told me: ‘There are some cages it is better to be inside of than without.'”
“He’s right of course. That’s how he’s survived this long. But we have different priorities…”
“And what are those priorities, exactly? If you don’t care about Aestival, or The Federation, why do any of this?”
“Every belief in the future as it would be discloses all alternative futures in the process. I simply wish to widen the scope of possibilities.”
The chartreuse man snapped the mannequin’s head on with a resounding clatter and turned to Vangr with a wide, rictus smile. The mannequin turned in tandem and, likewise, smiled.