So I'm cleaning up a bit, looking through my notes, trying to find my place. I found this on my hard drive recently and wondered where I'd seen it before. It looked familiar. Then I seemed to remember a cozy evening back in December, laughing like a jackass, wearing Christmas decorations, while I worked on a bottle of wine. There was this new community at the time, bioware_crack over on LJ, a glittering repository of whimsy and mayhem.. like a bachelorette party for wild and wacky dork girls. The best kind. One of these demented vixens came up with the idea that what she really ever wanted was a story or a picture about elcor showgirls. I guess elcor hamlet was too stuffy for her.
I'll just put this here.
In ancient times, the smooth bowl of the Yeldrai Basin had once formed a natural meeting place for the gathering of the tribes. It was a place of blood and drums. It was a place of rite and revelry. Still was, in this modern and enlightened age; on the grounds of the old Mother-Maiden stood the four wings of the Yeldrai Theatre, lush beyond lush, opulent beyond opulent. Spun from gysva larval silks, the heavy curtains on the western theatre house alone could cover up an Illium Spice-class corvette... and match it for price.
These heavy curtains had not yet raised for the night's performance, which had been booked two planetary years in advance. There was light chatter in the house, the murmur of conversation from one velvety end of the theatre to another.
Gugrug Shuddug, the self-styled Merchant Prince of Vogalia, had bought out the entire upper deck to preserve the comfort of his party. With his entourage of body-slaves, concubines, business-clansmen, elder sons, and even a privileged vassal or two, he presided over the luxurious top-tier balcony with a sense of supreme self-satisfaction. Decades of spice traffic and trading in humans had brought him to this lofty precipice of fame and wealth. Even now he sat with his newest and youngest concubine at his elbow, the glorious Tuggwuk, a bastard daughter of one of the Batarian State's greatest and most loyal generals. Tuggwuk possessed a rare and alluring beauty, as well as a smell, with her squat body and plump hands. Her face was the flattest and most squashed that Gugrug Shuddug had ever seen.. and he had seen many. The lights of the chandeliers danced in her four piggy eyes.
"The lowly womb-thing has a question," Tuggwuk wheedled, in the hyper-polite slaveform of batari grammar.
"No, silence." Gugrug held out his glass for an approaching waiter. "It does not need to know anything."
Tuggwuk bowed her head. The jeweled headchain shimmied on her brow. "It will not speak until spoken to."
When his glass was fresh, Gugrug swirled the liquor in it, then sniffed. No odor. The waiter-servant slithered away.
"Very well," Gugrug grunted. "What is it? Speak quickly."
Gugrug almost smiled. The general her sire had trained her well. She would breed him better sons than the ones he had now, with his old wife, whom he had removed. He cast a glance down the rows at his foolish progeny; he would have them killed soon if they did not show promise. He could have anyone killed, really. Just last week he had killed a stupid jelly in front of anyone, and no one had done anything. That was power.
"If you have a question, ask it now," Gugrug said. The pleasant liquor and prospects of the show put him in a better mood. "The show's about to begin. See the house lights flickering."
"We will see a dance, done by elcor?" Tuggwuk squeezed her hands in her lap.
Gugrug smirked. "An erotic dance, no less," he said.
Tuggwuk's eyes went down to her beaded gemstone slippers. "We would like to see them dance," she said shyly. "The four-leg-walkers are a good people. Kind.. and-and.. honest."
"The elcor are a foolish race, no more than animals trained to do tricks." Gugrug waved his hand dismissively, a gesture which summoned back the waiter. He swirled his glass, drank more. Hanar liquor. About the only thing those pitiful things did right. "The truth is I bought out all these seats to deny that salarian pervert any room. He talked about this performance day in, day out. He won't live long enough to see another."
"You do not wish to see this, my lord? Does it not please you?" Tuggwuk looked wretched, as though this were her fault.
"What pleases me, my porcine jewel, is the idea that aliens of every race book tickets years in advance for shows at this venue.. and I have swept in at the last minute on a whim, and now my longstanding business rival will die without clapping an eye on this idiocy."
Tuggwuk said softly, "Oh."
A gong sounded somewhere. Gugrug sat up straight. "Oh, good, now hush," he said. "It's going to start!"
And it did.
The MC took the stage, a great fat asari in a great ruffled dress. "Oh my lovelies, my pretties," she boomed out in a zesty voice. "You are about to witness a great show, a great spectacular. It will be magnificent. It will be amazing. Please silence all communicators and devices, personal servants and body-slaves.. for in just a few moments, you will witness the glory.. the power.. the naked honesty and the passion... of elcor."
Tuggwuk watched in amusement and delight. For the span of two hours, she forgot entirely where she was, transported to a world of velvety cushions and heavy silk curtains. She watched in pure amazement as the elcor shuffled and swayed; she drank in the glittering costumes laid upon them, and the great beams of colored light. She felt like a child again, before she feared the shouting of her father's voice or the slap of the leather crop he beat the vryl with.
She even forgot herself so much that she grabbed Master Gugrug's arm during the Feather Dance and gasped with delight. Then she gasped with horror, for she no one was permitted to touch The Master without his express bidding and instruction. But he just gave a groggy grunt and continued to nurse his drink. Perhaps the whimsy and wonder of the show had affected him, had softened him. Perhaps.. perhaps he saw how much this had come to mean to her.
With a secret prayer of thanks to the old Mother-Maiden, Tuggwuk withdrew her hands and submerged once again into the carnival world of the elcor performance. There were those among her race who scorned the Slow Folk, who treated them as little more than animals, but Tuggwuk sensed a great kindness and humility about them, for she knew they had gentle souls full of warmth and patience. And they were strong.
With a wistful sigh, she felt the show coming to a close; a last curtain call after the final number, which was exquisite. Perhaps for the best, since she was beginning to become aware of the need to empty her bladder, and she was working up the nerve to ask Master's permission to do so. He had been quiet, wrapped up in the performance, so perhaps his mood would be forgiving.
She glanced over and found him still watching, still looking down onto the stage.
There was movement nearby. The alien waiter.
"Mistress," the waiter said softly, the one from before.
She froze. Did they not know she was not to be spoken to directly?
"Mistress. If you will come with me."
Tuggwuk looked at him sharply; what? What could he mean? Yet this he said to her, in her own language and flawless.
She looked across to Master Gugrug- who stared and stared, eyes open, with his fingers hanging slack above his dropped glass. His sons were in similar states all across the exclusive upper balcony.
"The other slaves have escaped," the waiter said, in that soft and gentle tone. When he spoke to her, it was her own dialect, and in the polite grammar wordforms employed in a conversation of co-equals. "I will show you the way out."
There was sound and applause and flashes of lights; no one noticed what had happened up here, not yet.
Tuggwuk drank it in, horrified.
The waiter waited, poised and silent as a gentleman's gentleman.
Then something deep in her responded to the situation. The General's daughter.
Tuggwuk put out her hand like a lady and took the hand offered to her.
"I am ready now," she said.
"Please, watch your step," the waiter said as he led her out, up the back steps and over the dead bodies of Gugrug Shuddug's entire household.
"It was a lovely performance," Tuggwuk said in a firm voice, as to be heard over the whine of the aircar that waited on the balcony.
"It was, wasn't it?" the waiter said. He smiled. A green drell with very white teeth. He signaled the door for her. "It is the sincere hope of my patron that you enjoyed yourself tonight."