Tags: bendy | flexible | contortion, Colonel Sassacre (Homestuck), commission, fic, Her Imperious Condescension (Homestuck), Homestuck
It had been less than four days since she had landed on the human planet, vaguely disguised by the power of Doc Scratch. The Condesce had to admit that she was impressed with the being's power. Being able to trick an entire planet into seeing her as a life form that she wasn't even remotely close to being was no small feat, after all.
Not that his powers were perfect. She was still distingushingly tall and abnormally gray, not enough to get her driven out of the apartment that Doc Scratch had arranged for her but just abnormal enough to drive off any potential companions. Not that she needed constant companionship of any kind, but four days alone with only whispers at her back had started to grind on her. She felt the itch to cull every human that stared at her when they thought she wouldn't notice.
Culling, much like her other precious Alternian traditions, was considered "crime" on Earth. The Condesce had been taking notes on the planet and humans, watching for any potential weaknesses for when she would inevitably conquer them. Surely that lack of will to cull the weak and regulate mating seasons was one of those weaknesses? And yet they seemed to breed like hopbeasts ('rabbits' as the weaker Earth counterpart was called?), which was nonsensical. She needed more up close research, yet how was she to do that when no one would give her the time of day?
Perhaps today would be her chance to get up close and personal. The troll glanced at the poster that she had tacked to her wall, decorated with humans dressed like bastardizations of her beloved Subjugglators. The paper proudly announced that a show was looking for more members to join its motley crew, and that anyone who was an "oddity" or a "freak of nature" would be welcome and paid a fair sum as long as they could prove their talent.
Well, the Condesce was nothing if not talented, and Doc Scratch had made it clear that in the coming months she would have to pay her own bills with human currency (so many different kinds, obviously another sign of their barbaric society). If she had to work around the humans she might as well take her chances with clowns, as she certainly had enough experience with them.
The tryout was that afternoon, leaving her with very little time to get herself ready. She peered into the mirror as she tried to tame her long black curls. Her human face, dark skinned and tinged with gray, stared back at her from within the glass. There had only been so much that Doc Scratch had been able to do with her cloak, leaving her hair still tangling around her horns and her eyes fuchsia.
After a few minutes of wrestling with her hair and losing she gave up, instead deciding to just put on her outfit and call it a day. She had a gray-tinged "nude" suit given to her by Doc Scratch in order to hide the "troll bits" that he had been unable to cloak. From a distance she truly did look like a naked human without the genitalia, but up close it was very clear that it was a suit. She frowned before pulling on some of the other clothing that Doc Scratch had provided her.
Most of it was far too frumpy for her to even consider, but the black lingerie... yes, she could definitely make that work. The Condesce pulled it on, ignoring the fact that the bottoms were a bit too snug on her hips, and then put on as much jewelry as she could manage. Necklaces dangled over where her cleavage would be, hiding the neck line and the obvious creases from where the fabric pulled over her barely supported rumble spheres.
She covered up with a trenchcoat for the walk down to the tryouts, checking herself in the mirror before picking up her papers that Doc Scratch had created for her.
"The fuck is a 'betty', Doc?"
She was sure that if the puppet had a mouth he'd be smirking, but instead her settled with folding his hands in his lap. "Betty is you. It's your new name."
"What the fuck is your prawn-blem, Doc? My name's fine! They need to learn to fear it, anemone-way!"
"You're not the queen yet, my dearest Condescension. 'Meenah' is too uncommon and would call too much attention to yourself. Betty is unassuming. Betty is innocent. Betty is someone who could easily gain the trust of a people they're trying to conquer. Or do you not agree?"
The Condesce had been ready for stares as soon as she arrived outside the circus tent. She was pleasantly surprised to receive only one or two, the rest of the crowd simply brushing past her as though she was normal.
It was different than within the main city, that was for sure. After a moment she decided to follow the general direction of the crowd, looking for any sort of sign that would point her towards the tryouts. Her search ended when she saw a barkbeast man slip into a smaller tent. She quickly followed after him, noting the paper taped to the flap that said "LOOKING FOR NEW RECRUITS". Or something similar. Her English wasn't the strongest.
Before she could even get a handle on her surroundings she was grabbed by a male half dressed in purple blood garb. Her first instinct was to be furious at his lack of respect for the outfit (if the Highblood was still alive he would have been furious, probably flayed the man right then and there), but she was shoved into a chair on the other side of the tent before she could say anything.
"Name and current occupation," he said without an introduction.
She blinked. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," the clown said simply, looking up from his clipboard. He had a no nonsense look on his face, and the Condesce knew that trying to fight him would only lead to trouble. Perhaps later, after she had infiltrated the troupe...
"Whale, my name is Betty. Current-ly unemployed. You gonna tell me your name, shrimp?"
He looked up at her from over his clipboard, a single heavily made up eyebrow arched. "I sincerely hope that water puns aren't the only thing you came in here to show us, Ms. Betty. No last name?"
"I asked you a question." The Condesce stared him down, nearly eye level with him despite sitting. He shifted, uncomfortable, obviously trying to figure out whether it was worth testing the patience of the giant woman in front of him.
"Marty is my stage name. If you get selected you can learn my real one," he scribbled something else on the pad before looking back at her, "Now, you obviously have the look of a performer. Where are you from? Er, where is your persona from?"
"Never gave much of a carp aboat that shit. Some underwater kingdom? All I got is that I'm the best queen you folks'll ever sea, and that's the damn truth!"
The clown sighed again, rubbing his temples. "We'll work on it if you get picked - Atlantis never sells. Show me what you can do."
The Condesce froze, unsure of what he meant. Surely just showing up looking like a giant woman was enough, right? Or was there some human language barrier that she had run up against? She looked over to the left, trying to see what her competition was doing. One man was breathing fire. Another appeared to entirely dislocate the bottom half of his body (she'd have to look into that later). Did he perhaps mean some strange thing that she could do with her figure...?
Marty the Clown coughed, obviously impatient and wanting to move on. So she did the first thing that came to her mind that wasn't a violent troll tendency: contorted.
She stood up on the ricketedy chair and tried to steady herself as it wobbled and warped under her weight. This caught the attention of the clown once again, though he made no move to try to help her steady her perch.
Taking in a deep breath she slowly lifted her right leg, bending it behind her neck. It was pretty effortless due to how flexible sea-dwelling trolls were, but she was a bit out of practice due to not having any reason to stretch in such extreme ways recently. She had to admit it felt nice as she tried to not hit the back of her neck with her shoe.
The chair continued to quiver and she really wished that she hadn't worn shoes so that she could dig her toe claws into the wood. She looked back at Marty, cocking her head. "Whale?"
He was scribbling on the clipboard, nodding. "A contortionist, huh? Not bad. Have any other tricks or just this one?"
The Condesce unfurled her leg from around her torso, planting herself back on the chair as she considered. On the chair she was too tall to completely stretch her leg up without brushing the roof of the small tent, her horns already uncomfortably (and invisibly) poking at the fabric.
With a little huff she bent over, grabbing the front of the seat before digging her claws into the wood beneath. She quickly raised herself into a handstand, bending her knees as soon as she felt her toes touch the tent. After taking a moment to make sure the chair would stay stable, or at least stable enough that she wouldn't topple over, she pushed her stomach out, pulling her hips back down towards her slowly.
Her spine popped as it flexed, pushing her ribcage out as her rear came closer to her head. Her torso was basically at a ninety degree agree with her straightened arms, the hips one eighty with the floor. The Condesce pushed her head up slightly in order to both look at the clown and meet her head with her butt, subtly adjusting her legs so that they went around her horns.
She could feel the chair creaking under her weight, whining in a way that felt as though it was going to snap at any moment. Marty was scribbling more notes on the clipboard, nodding approvingly while trying to keep her eyes away from the generous rear in front of him. The Condesce couldn't blame him for that. After all, her ass was rather amazing.
The troll moved from the headseat back into a hand stand before bending herself off the chair, forming an arch for a moment before releasing the wood and pulling back up into a standing position. "How about now, shrimp?"
He pursed his lips before sighing. "We have more than enough contortionists for the show proper, unfortunately. You're probably too heavy for any of the others to carry, anyway. Not a dig at you or anything... you're just, well, large."
She couldn't disagree with that. "So what does that mean? Just pack it up and sail away?"
"No, no. Not quite. You see, we weren't just recruiting for the main show. We were also looking for features for our sideshow. Basically it's a group of people who look extremely different or can do extreme things that don't fit into the circus proper. I'm sure that they'd love to have someone like you."
"Would I still be gettin' paid? Otterwise it's no deal."
He waved his hand dismissively. "Yes, yes, of course. Now, if you're interested I could show you to the master of the sideshow?"
The Condesce mulled over her options. One part of her was offended and outraged that she was being designated to some side tent, out of the spotlight where she obviously belonged. The other part, the part that Doc Scratch constantly tried to appeal to, was pointing out that she needed the money and that this would only be a temporary thing anyway. What was the harm of contorting and sticking around some clowns for a little while while she studied humanity? There were definitely worse ways to spend her current time on Earth.
"Eh, why not? Shore, I'll meet the guy."
Marty nodded, putting the clipboard under his arm as he gestured towards the tent entrance. "Right, if you'll just follow me then." Without another word he started walking, and the Condesce made a mental note to teach the humans how to treat someone of her position with respect once she took over. Still, she followed, ducking under the flap and walking briskly in order to keep up with the clown.
"I'm sure the master will love you. He's always had a thing for, uh, very powerful and large women. We had someone like you a while back, but the ringmaster ended up trading her for a lizard man. Robert was furious, but there's not much you can do once the ringmaster decides you're useless. Never understood the need for either of 'em, though. At least you can bend."
She was having a hard time following any of his words since he talked so fast. English still wasn't her strong point so she found herself nodding along, tuning him out as they approached a larger tent. Marty waved her in, stopping her at the entrance as he headed to the back. The empress took the moment to study her surroundings.
It was hard to see through the crowds but it looked like there were glass containers set up, reaching to the top of the tall tent. Within the first one that she looked within was a clay tree, a man covered in thick hair perched on top. He looked like some sort of monkey or bear (the Condesce couldn't decide which was a better descriptor), and he was snarling and growling at the crowd. They cheered as he bristled at them, backing away from the glass as he came closer.
That was the moment that she realized that this was probably what she was signing herself up for, at least temporarily. A life inside of a glass cage where she would simply be stared at. Grateful that she had pulled back on her trench coat, she turned away from the man, rage bubbling inside of her stomach.
"Betty, you can come back now." Marty's voice carried well above the muttering of the crowd, and she pushed her way through the people with ease. She was greeted by the clown and another man, who was looking at her expectantly.
"Marty says you're a contortionist. Care to show me what you can do?"
Did no one on Earth introduce themselves before making demands? If she hadn't felt yanked around all day perhaps she would have been more amused than annoyed, but as it stood she was growing impatient. Without a word she dropped to the floor, moving immediately into a chest stand. Due to her earlier stretching the position was easy, her spine bending into the near ninety degree angle quickly.
Aware that they weren't going to be impressed by a simple chest stand she pulled her hips forward back over her head, stretching out her arms and digging her claws into the ground so that she didn't end up sliding. Her spine popped slightly as she pulled her rear as far as she possibly could. She then twisted her legs forward, planting her knees right beside her elbows and folding her toes at the edge of her rib cage.
She looked up at the master and Marty, who were both nodding approvingly. Robert - he was the master, wasn't he? - looked at the folded woman before nodding again. "How long can you hold that?"
It wasn't a particularly uncomfortable position for her, and the Condesce would even go so far as to say that it felt very nice. Perhaps after a few hours she'd feel very sore, but trolls were known for their hardiness and she was definitely not an exception. "I can hold this for as long as you want me to."
"As long as I want you to? Are you sure?"
She looked up at him. "Is that a challenge?"
He smiled, tapping his foot on the floor. "Perhaps. Can you hold that position while Marty and I go out to deliberate? Nothing personal, but the last time we had an Amazonian she couldn't do much of anything and we ended up having to get rid of her. A damn shame, if you ask me, so I'd rather that not happen again."
"Obvi-fish-ly I can do shit, though. Now I gotta prove I can hold it? Why, gonna stuff me in the cage and then just tell me to hold a split all damn day?" She hadn't meant to snap but there was only so much she could take. Robert's smile fell.
"Actually, yes, most likely. We'll probably put you in with one of our smaller residents so you can lift her... the crowds get a kick out of size differences. So hold that and we'll bring Barbara in so we can test out the potential performance, alright?"
She was forced to hold the position for about half an hour before the men returned, a small female human trailing after him. The woman's eyes widened when she saw the Condesce contorted on the floor. "Y-you just left her like that?! What if she's hurt? Oh, you guys aren't funny -!"
"Shut up and get on top of her, Barbara," the master snapped. The woman mouthed an apology to the troll before scrambling on top of her. The Condesce flinched for only a moment in surprise before stabilizing herself. The woman was very light in comparison to the trolls and other beings she had fought off on Alternia, after all. Lifting people was absolutely no problem for her.
In fact, this was grub's play. Time to impress the so-called master.
"Hold on, uh, Barbara?" The woman squeaked, gripping onto her legs as she lifted them from her position on the floor. She pulled into a chest stand as the terrified human clung to her legs like a child. The troll then hoisted herself up onto her hands in order to perform a hand stand.
Marty and Robert watched, nodding to each other. "Anything else?"
"If you want more you're gonna have to hire me."
They exchanged glances, ignoring Barbara's terified whimpering, before nodding. "Very well, Betty. You've got yourself a job."
The sideshow attractions were the usual ones, as far as he could tell. He lazily looked over the people within the cages, only stopping for a brief moment before moving on. It was so easy to find bearded women and men tattooed as lizards. The Colonel needed something more exciting to catch his fancy.
His curiosity was piqued at the sight of a crowd gathered outside of a false glass that was surrounded by dark curtains the hid whatever the container held from outside viewers. It was mostly men ogling whatever creature was within, their wives trying to pull them away. That was promising, to say the least. Even if it wasn't exciting, perhaps he could be promised an attractive woman before he departed the sideshow.
What greeted him was a shock. He pushed through the crowd in order to get as close to the glass as possible. A large - no, giant - woman was doing a perfect split between two hanging vines, and she made it look completely effortless. She was decorated in bright jewelry and little more than decorated underwear, her long curls deliberately styled in front of her rather generous bust.
The Colonel met her bright fuchsia eyes, and he could have sworn that he saw a flash of bright orange within the whites. It was gone when he blinked but he was certain that it had been there.
He was distracted by a fat little man stepping forward to the side of the glass. The woman seemed to notice him as well, pushing her split even further. Her feet began to slide from the vine as the angle of her legs increased, and soon she was holding on with strangely clawed toes.
"Ladies and gentlemen, our show is about to begin! Before you will descend Peixes, queen of a lost African nation made entirely of gold and jewels! As far as we know she's the last surviving member of her people, and we are lucky to have her gracing our prescence! Queen Peixes, your people request an audience!"
At that she lazily looked down before unhooking her front leg and dropping to the ground, landing on her toes with her opposing leg still straight up in the air. Such a drop would have at least made a normal human stumble, the Colonel thought, and yet she had landed so delicately without a single hesitation... Was she perhaps not as human as they claimed?
No, that was ridiculous. It was all trickery. She was probably just some abnormally tall contortionist. Right? Her voice ripped him from his thoughts.
"I must obvi-fish-ly obey the call of my subjects. Watch and sea what your queen can do!"
Were those fish puns? Perhaps they hadn't quite worked out the quirks of the performance yet. She hadn't been on any of the advertisements, after all, so perhaps she was still new.
Then she began to move. Peixes bent back into an arch, pushing her stomach up until she was only being supported by her toes and fingertips. It wasn't anything overly impressive, nothing that he hadn't seen at any other circus.
And then the man stepped upon her and she didn't even falter. Colonel Sassacre heard himself gasping along with the rest of the crowd as the small man stood on top of her stomach. He bowed as the Queen started to shuffle backwards on her tip toes and fingertips, not once breaking that perfect arc that she had created.
Once she was a fair distance from the front of the glass the man dropped to his knees, clutching her wide hips. One of her long, gorgeous legs lifted from the ground, followed closely by the other. Still on her finger tips she moved into a handstand, straightening her arms as the man climbed her legs as if she was a tree, shuffling around so that his feet were on balanced on her large posterior.
Still on her fingers she turned and lifted her head to look at the audience, and the Colonel met the Queen's bring fuschia eyes again. She smirked at him, not breaking that contact as she separated her legs into a side split. They didn't stop moving until they were parallel with the floor, and the man stepped onto her spread inner legs, balancing triumphantly.
Sassacre was pretty sure she hadn't blinked once during the entire move. No, he was certain, because he hadn't blinked either and his eyes were watering now. The crowd's cheering suddenly became deafening in his ears as he was hurled back into reality.
She still hadn't dropped to her palms, still only balanced by the tips of her fingers, her arm muscles flexed. After another moment she continued to split her legs, the man on top of her leaping off as her toes finally touched the floor next to her fingers. He bowed as she held the position without even budging slightly.
To say that Sassacre was blown away would be an understatement. He had seen many a contortionist in his travels but none quite so stable... sturdy with their forms. And to top it off she was Amazonian and muscular in comparison to the rather small and lithe girls that the circuses usually boasted in their main shows. The fact that Peixes was confined to this tiny sideshow tent was a crime, in his eyes.
He returned his attention to the spectacle in front of him, aware that the applause was slowly dying out. Both performers seemed to realize this, too, as Peixes returned to a handstand. She finally dropped to her palms, splitting her legs laterally and leaning backwards, delicately landing on her toes as she returned to an upright stand and effortlessly shifted her other leg to her side.
Again it was a trick that he had seen multiple times even as she bent her leg behind her head, resting it in the crook of her knee. But everything was so fluid and calm! How was that even possible...? The rest of the crowd went wild, cheering and begging for more as he sat there stumped.
Despite the crowd being large she caught his lack of praise and frowned. "Whale, water we got here...? Yo, mister in the front!! You gotta prawn-blem with my performance?"
Sassacre jumped as he was singled out, and the rest of the people surrounding him edged away, muttering quietly amongst themselves. "I... are you talking about me?" With fish puns, he wanted to add, but felt like the situation didn't really call for calling that out. No one else seemed to notice, after all.
"Shell yeah, I'm talkin' aboat you! Everyone else seems to be having a good time and then there's you, what's the deal with that? Just starin' at me 'n shit!" She was yelling now, her purple eyes narrowed. She still held the position with perfection, yet it was obvious by her fellow performer's panicked reaction that she was going far off script.
The others in the crowd seemed confused by the sudden change in character. The gorgeous African queen that they had been promised and had seen had seemingly evaporated into a loud and somewhat terrifying giant, and they couldn't tell if it was part of the act or not.
Realizing that he had lost control of the audience and his performer, the announcer clapped his hands together quickly. "Alright! Obviously our queen has been in the jungle heat for a little too long so I think that we'll end the performance a little bit early! Peixes, if you would -"
"Hey, you! We're not done here! Don't you dare leave yet, you hear me?!" She dropped her position, still glowering at Sassacre through the glass.
"Aaand we're done! Thanks for coming out, please leave a tip in the bucket if you're feeling generous!" The man clapped again, waiting for the rest of the crowd to disperse before coming to the front to speak to Sassacre. Peixes stayed in the back, stretching up to her full height, eyes still on him.
"I apologize for her behavior, sir. She's new and she has a bit of an attitude problem... We've been trying to condition it out of her. You don't have to stay to talk to her, and I assure you that she'll be punished properly later." The announcer's eyes were wide, begging him to only spread positive opinions of the circus. Sassacre shrugged.
"Actually, I'd quite like to speak to her. I really enjoyed her performance, and I have a few questions."
The announcer was taken aback by this. He opened his mouth as if to say something before shaking his head. "Well, alright. Peixes, get over here! And don't waste too much more of this man's time!" He turned back to the comedian. "Let me know if she says anything too rude for you, sir. We'll make sure to dock her pay accordingly."
As the giant woman came closer it became very apparent to Sassacre how tall she truly was. From afar she had large, obviously, but he very obviously had to look up to meet her eyes now, and the small man barely passed her naval. She was still looked angry, eyes still narrow and for a second he thought that they had turned bright red.
"Leave us alone for a little whale, Marcus." The announcer bowed before turning away, grumbling something under his breath. Peixes rolled her eyes.
"Right, whale, water you doin' not clapping? If you don't like my shit you coulda just left instead of just sitting there gawkin'!" She planted her hands on her wide hips, shifting her weight. He gulped.
"Is... is there a reason for the water puns...?"
Her eyes widened and for the first time she seemed to be a bit off balance. "Wh- That's not water we're talkin' aboat! I like puns, okay? Seal with it!" She looked a bit flustered for another moment before hardening her resolve again. "I be-reef I asked you the first question!"
"Oh, right, sorry, um..." He hesitated, trying to figure out the best way to word his feelings. She basically had her face pressed against the glass now, obviously becoming impatient.
"I actually quite enjoyed your perfromance! I was simply blown away... how are you so stable even just on your fingers and toes? Honestly, I feel like you'd be better suited for the main show."
Again she faltered, not expecting the praise. Then she laughed. "You are an odd one! I have to admit that I wasn't expecting that sorta praise." Her eyes were no longer narrowed, instead fully open and scanning him. He felt a little bit uncomfortable at that, feeling a bit like prey being hunted. "Most show their appre-sea-ation of talent by actively showing it."
"Er, yes, I was actually just in the middle of thinking when you finished your trick, I apologize. My name - well, stage name - is Sassacre, by the way. Perhaps you've heard of me?"
Peixes shook her head. "Nope."
"Oh," he blinked, not expecting her to be so blunt. "Well, I'm a performer myself. I do stand up comedy, you see, and I came here looking for someone to be my new opening act since my former one and I had a... falling out. I figured that someone here would like to use their talent elsewhere, but no one has truly impressed me so far. Except for you. You're definitely very... unique, Peixes."
The giantess said nothing for a couple moments, and Sassacre was afraid that he had offended her. Finally she sighed. "Betty."
"Peixes is my character. Betty is my actual name. If you want to talk, we close up the tent at five for dinner. If you're reely interested in my performance I can sea you then, but only if you stay on the circus grounds. I have another shoal in aboat fifteen minutes, so I have to go."
"Right, well, or should I say whale," she shook her head at him and he coughed, "Well, I'll see you then, Betty." When she didn't respond he walked away, but he could have sworn he saw a little smile on her lips as he turned from her.
The Condesce had no idea why she had promised to meet the human after closing. It wasn't as though she was desperate for a job or anything. The circus loved her, even if they weren't particularly kind in their treatment (she had to sit through Marty and Robert yelling at her for 'mistreating the guests' and then taking away her day's wages) because of how many guests she had brought in alone. It wasn't necessarily a job that she enjoyed, even if the adoration of the masses was a nice thing to have, but it was still a job that allowed her to pay rent on her tiny apartment.
She performed several more shows that day, so caught within her own thoughts that her performing partners were surprised by her silence.
"She's usually more fiery than this!" Barbara had joked to the crowd as the Condesce performed an arabesque penche, lowering herself so far her elbow rested upon the ground. "What has come over our beautiful goddess Peixes?"
It was obvious that the tiny woman was trying to get a reaction out of her, but the Condesce decided to be stubborn, leaving the penche to jump and grab at one of the bars above her head, hoisting herself up and doing a side split. Her hands gripped the bar tightly as she pushed her legs further than the one-eighty degree line that she usually did.
As she went into doing flips around the bar she caught Barbara's eyes, but chose to ignore the concern within them. The troll hadn't been here to make any sort of friend, though Barbara came the closest to breaching the 'just acquaintances' boundary. The Condesce would miss her if she decided to leave, if only a little bit -
What was she saying? She was the last surviving troll, alive for millenia. She had obviously been in this semi-human form for too long if she was having these sorts of thoughts! Apparently Doc Scratch's plan to isolate her via appearance hadn't taken into account her fellow "circus freaks".
She released the bar with her hands, gripping onto it with her knees as she fell, wrapping her legs fully around it. The Condesce lifted her torso and straightened her back, touching the back of her head with her feet. The crowd cheered and she basked in the attention, ignoring the blank look on Barbara's face.
As the crowd departed and the closing bell sounded, the troll dropped back to the ground. "That was the last shoal, wasn't it?"
Barbara nodded. "Yeah. Betty, are you alright? I heard you had a bit of a meltdown earlier and I got worried. You know you can tell me anything that's botherin' you, right? I mean, we're performing partners!" She smiled hesitantly, eyes bright.
'You're not my moray-eel,' the Condesce wanted to snap. Instead she nodded, forcing a smile. "I know, Barb. I'm fin, though. You don't gotta worry, alright?"
The smile on Barbara's face fell. "Alright, if you say so. Do you have any dinner plans? We could go bug the gymnasts again -"
"Ac-shoally I do have plans tonight. Sorry aboat that."
The Condesce wasn't sure how her partner could do it, but Barbara's face fell even further. "Oh, okay. Well, have fun." She left before the troll could say anything, and for a moment the empress wondered if she should chase after to apologize.
'Apologize for what, though? She's the one who came to you second. Once you're empress of this planet they're gonna have to line up to make plans with you.'
It had been more difficult than she had anticipated keeping her main goals in mind. Her orders via Doc Scratch's magical all seeing tape hadn't been particularly clear on what her objective was. "You'll know it when you see it" had been his prerecorded answer to all of her questions.
So she had just continued to perform, continued to dream of what she would do once she was in charge. Earth was simply too bright and lively, and it needed more water. She had been told at one point that it was mostly water but she couldn't believe that, not when all she could ever see was land on all sides.
And of course more Subjugglators, of course. The clowns at the circus weren't fit for the job by any means, but perhaps there were some somewhere else on the planet that could be of use.
She pushed those thoughts out of her mind as she pulled on some civilian clothes, topping them with her coat as if that was going to make her any less conspicuous. Just by her hair, jewelry, and makeup one could tell she was a performer anyway, and that was without the fact that she was at least seven and a half feet tall.
As she stepped outside into the cool evening air she became acutely aware that the possibility of him staying for the four hours since they had spoken was very low. As far as she could tell he hadn't come with anyone else, and the circus wasn't the most interesting place to be once you had seen everything. Still... there was a chance.
It wasn't as though he was anything special, really, so she didn't know why she was so intrigued by him. It was almost as though she was drawn to him... had that been one of the "you'll know it when you see it" things that Doc Scratch had warned her about? Part of her hoped so, as at least that would explain her feelings better than adapting to human emotions.
Which was a horrifying thought, even if she had moved past the point of wanting to cull everyone she laid eyes on. Now it was just most people. A huge difference, really.
She scanned the leaving crowds, looking for anyone who was going against the tide. And after a moment she saw him pushing through towards her. So he had come. That was sort of unexpected, she had to admit. When he finally reached her he bent over, trying to catch his breath.
"Sorry I'm late."
"It's like, five-oh-five. You're not late." She awkwardly patted him on the back, only realizing that she had used too much force when he let out a pained wheeze.
"Right, well... would you like to get dinner? They have food here, right?"
The Condesce wanted to point out that the circus grounds had just closed, so it was going to be hard to get food, but instead sighed and nodded. "Yeah. I'll sea water I can do."
Fifteen minutes and a promise of cleaning off the grill later the duo were sitting outside of one of the food stalls, eating a simple meal of eggs and mutton. The chef had no interest in cooking anything beyond that for a sideshow performer, which was annoying. It would probably be her dinner as well, judging by the sheer amount of meat the man had been carting to the living tents.
"So you're here to sea if you can find a new opening act, right? Like how the elephants usually come on sea-fore the tigers an' shit?" The Condesce very rarely got to leave her 'jungle environment' but she enjoyed watching the animals perform when she could. Watching the humans control such powerful beasts was impressive... and a good show of humanity's 'best' as far as skill went.
He considered and then nodded. "Yes. I've toured several circuses looking for people who might be interested in leaving their jobs to tour with me, but obviously it's a bit of a hard sell. It doesn't help that I'm rather picky with my employees." Sassacre finished off his eggs and wiped his mouth, placing his plate to the side.
The Condesce picked at her food absently. Three months into living as a human and she still hadn't quite gotten the taste for Earth food. "And I caught your eye?"
Sassacre nodded again, this time more enthusiastically. "Yes! You're exactly who I've been looking for! Skilled and with an appearance unique enough to bring in people who have never even heard of me before... If you'd be interested in quitting your sideshow job I can guarantee that I can provide you a comfortable place to live if you so desire."
"Well, it would more than likely be my house, so yes. No rent required as long as you work."
She still knew very little about Earth customs but she did know that women and men living together before becoming matesprits was often frowned upon. "Wouldn't your, uh, wife mind? I'm shore it wouldn't make her happy to know there's another woman under your roof."
He laughed sheepishly at that, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, the thing is that I'm not married. I'm actually very single, as hard as it is to believe!" He grinned to show that he was joking at that last part, though his cheeks were tinged red. An urge to kill rushed upon the Condesce at the sight of the mutated red. Human blush was so interesting...
"I sea. And wouldn't having me around hurt your chances of finding someone?"
"It doesn't matter that much. I'd rather my career take off than spend my time hunting for a family. If I meet someone and we have to change your living arrangements I could take care of it. Anyway, that conversation doesn't need to happen right now. Would you be interested?"
The Condesce bit her lip. "Your offer is temptin', won't lie. But I kinda have a deal here and it would eel wrong to just up and swim away..."
"How much would you like to be paid?"
"I'll buy your services out. Whatever they're paying you, I'll pay more." She stared at him, trying to gauge if he was joking or not.
"Seriously?" He nodded. "Whale shit, I can't say no to that, can I?"
"You can if you want to. I don't want to force you into doing this, I promise. I just feel very drawn to you. Wow, that was cheesy."
"You'll know when events start to unfold, Meenah." The Doc Scratch on the recording had poured himself a cup of tea despite not having a mouth or anything to drink it with. The troll had to admit that it looked classy as fuck, though.
"I already killed Megido, you owe me a fucking explanation!"
"Perhaps you're wondering why you even killed my Handmaid if I still won't tell you anything. It's a fair question, but it's one I can't answer. You see, when you signed up for this you swore that you would do anything Lord English wanted. Regardless of Damara's feelings on her job, she performed spectacularly. I expect that you won't disappoint me, Meenah."
The recording cut out after that, leaving the Condesce snarling. How dare he use her true name when her title had spread fear throughout galaxies?! How dare he know exactly what she was going to say? Worst of all, the recording was one that she couldn't play back and couldn't activate until Doc Scratch's predetermined programmed times.
"...when events start to unfold..." She muttered, looking down at her eggs and meat.
She didn't answer immediately, playing with her food. Finally she looked up at him, meeting his eyes. "Shore. I'll go with you."
"Yes. Let me just clean off the grill and then we can leave."
"Wait, now? But, what about this job? You can't just leave without letting anyone know you're quitting!"
She snorted at that. "Shore I can. After all, I'm Queen Peixes, ain't I?"
Another few months passed after she had absconded the circus to join forces with Sassacre. That feeling of unease and destiny seemed to trail after her regardless of where they went or stayed on their tour. As popular as Sassacre and his books were, the Condesce had become the show stopping piece that people traveled from afar to see.
Unlike her time in the sideshow she was more modestly dressed, no longer hidden away in dark silk jungles. She had made sure to take as much of her jewelry as possible before departing, and wore as much as she could get away with without Sassacre complaining.
"They're family heirlooms," she had claimed, using a term that she had often heard Barbara speak of. He hadn't argued with her after that, except to say when she went overboard (which he claimed was a fish pun and she had to disagree every time).
"Here she is, ladies and gentlemen, our African Goddess!" The small crowds cheered as she did a walkover into the center of the stage. She loved the attention, and since there were no other attractions here it was all for her.
She always started with a frontbend, slowly dropping her head in between her legs, ignoring the scraping of her horns against the ground. The cloak made by Doc Scratch hide the noise but never the sensation, and so she tried her best to wear heels that elevated her so they weren't ground level when she ducked.
The crowds were usually impressed by the simple frontbend alone, not knowing what to expect when she would start falling forward, twisting so that her pelvis hit the ground first, carrying her legs with it as her torso stayed in the air. Gracefully she pulled into a front split from that position, bending back to push out her rumble spheres. The men in the audience always seemed to like that move.
After rising from the split she would immediately drop to her knees, planting her rear onto her feet before bending back, putting her head parallel with the ground as her ribs were perpendicular to the floor. The other contortionists that had been hired called it a "hairpin", and they would plant their heads firmly against their feet in the final position. Of course, they didn't have horns, so she had to make adjustments.
The people never seemed to mind, cheering her on as her hair flowed around her...
"Betty? It smells wonderful in here... are you baking again?"
"How'd you guess?" The troll grinned, pulling her apron off as she went to greet him. Their relationship was a bit odd at the moment, at least in her eyes. They were engaged, as the humans called it, yet at best she saw Sassacre as a moirail.
He wouldn't understand that, though, how much that platonic love meant, and so she went along with his definition of love. It wasn't too much different, except for all the romantic things that not even he was very comfortable discussing.
For the moment they had put their tours on break, as he had a new book to write and she had just opened up a bakery. Perhaps the largest draw at first had been the fact that it was run by the former famous sideshow act, but now it was more known for the delicious cakes.
As he embraced her she tried to hide her reborn unease, smiling and acting as though nothing was wrong. Every feeling that the recordings had warned her of had started to run through her, and it was starting to set her on edge.
"I just submitted the draft to the publisher, by the way. Hopefully they'll actually take it since I cut out some of the pages."
"You could still krill a man with that book, you know." The Condesce wanted to say how much she approved, but she wasn't sure he'd appreciate the compliment. He snorted at her comment, shrugging.
"Well, hopefully they'll like it enough that it won't matter. We can go on tour, just like the old times. You and me, on the road... attracting crowds... you in your performing outfits again..."
She laughed. "The Peixes one or the Sassacre Opening Act one?"
"Maybe both," he mused. "So, water we having for dinner?"
With a little groan at his pun she returned to the kitchen in order to finish off her latest dish. In the first time for the last two sweeps she had been on Earth she was happy, with a healthy quadrant relationship and two jobs she truly enjoyed. But that feeling of everything going wrong continued to nag at her.
The duties that Lord English had sent her to complete still weren't done, the beginnings of which still hadn't happened. She was sick of waiting yet also wanted nothing to change. Sure, it would've been nice to be in charge of more than just a singular bakery, but there was something oddly satisfying to just dominate that one market...
Sassacre came in to help her, and again she was at ease as he distracted her with the same jokes he had been writing for months. She had heard them many times before, and yet they were still funny. Perhaps he would have even had a chance with the Grand Highblood.
The Condesce took a deep breath, pushing all of those doom and gloom thoughts to the back of her head. Eventually she would have to return to her true job, sure, but for now she could be content in her little bakery with her odd human companion. Lord English... Doc Scratch... they could wait, at least for now. After all, what was time to immortal beings? Destiny could wait until another day, hopefully far in the future.
She was unsurprised when tragedy struck less than two years later.