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It was raining the evening they arrived in No-Name, and the whole village was steaming in the damp heat like a hot bath. Dolores invited them all to dinner at the Governor's residence, and Adam and Julian were now standing under the grand canopied entrance prior to going in. They were waiting for Bengo, Bardin, Lonts and Tamaz to return. The four of them had hired a pony-and-trap for a short ride out into the bush.
"Jules, you're like a cat on hot bricks", Adam laughed "Finia reckons you're starting to see Freaky as your second honorary daughter".
"I would have been a good father of daughters", said Julian, lighting a cigar "Lousy of sons, I'd have been too remote and brutal. But daughters, yes. Except I'd be too possessive".
"Hm, like you were when Finia married Ransey", said Adam.
"It wasn't unreasonable of me to want better for him than a bloody accountant!" said Julian "Ah, I can hear carriage wheels".
Dolores had had the only stret in No-Name concreted, to try and stop the mud building up everytime it rained and turning everything into a quagmire. The covered trap rumbled down it with Bardin at the helm. Bengo and Lonts had sat in the back on either side of Tamaz, watching mesmerised as his breasts quivered everytime they went over a bump or a boulder. Bardin deposited them and then returned to the trap to the blacksmith.
"Tamaz feels a bit faint", said Lonts, carrying Tamaz up the steps were the others were waiting.
"I'm not surprised", Kieran thundered, inspecting Tamaz's ballgown "He's laced in too tight".
"Toppy did that", said Lonts, smugly.
"He told me to!" Toppy bleated "He ordered me to lace him as tight as I could".
"If I was still President", said Kieran "I'd pass a law forbidding corsets. I've heard of ladies crushing their ribs through lacing themselves in too tight".
"What are you doing?" said Tamaz, as Kieran began to unlace him "You can't tear my clothes off me here!"
"You'll have to get used to that", said Bengo, who was a bit miffed at Tamaz because of Bardin's plans to give him star-billing in the sketch.
"I'm just loosening your frock a bit", said Kieran "How can you hope to eat when you can't beathe!"
"That dress has never been anything but trouble", said Julian "It gets confiscated as soon as we get home".
"Oh no it doesn't, you can't do that!" Tamaz stamped his foot and the troublesome frock slithered to the ground.
"Tamaz!" Joby groaned, looking round anxiously to make sure none of Dolores' household were getting a good look at Tamaz's breasts "Put it back on!"
"Why should I?" said Tamaz "If Julian's going to confiscate it!"
Julian gave him a sharp slap on his rump.
"Get dressed", he hissed "Or Joby and I will take you home, and then you won't be able to lord it over everyone here".
Tamaz sulkily yielded to pressure, and allowed Kieran and Joby to get him re-frocked. In the meantime Bengo had now forgotten his martyred air over Tamaz's star-billing, and was bursting to tell Bardin of the deft way their ingenue had lost his clothes.
The double iron gates which served as a front door to Dolores' house opened behind them, and the Indigo-ites hastily clustered round Tamaz so that he could be dressed in privacy.
"We can't take you ANYWHERE!" Joby snapped, as Tamaz stood arms akimbo, being re-laced by Kieran.
"It's not my fault", said Tamaz, casually "It was the little blonde guy who tore it off me".
"I can see this is going to be another gathering we'll be getting through by the skin of our teeth", Julian muttered to Adam.
The steward led them into the inner courtyard of Dolores' house. They congregated there and Dolores came out to greet them, looking elegant but rather washed-out in a simple black gown. Hillyard greeted her with a surprising amount of gravitas, and Ransey presented her with Lady Red's jewels. Dolores instantly gave her secretary orders to lock them away in her safe.
"I feel nervous having them out in the open", she confessed "I doubt I'll ever have the nerve to wear them. The rubies in particular are so synonymous with Red. She made them very much her own style".
Once the jewels were locked away Dolores relaxed somewhat and enjoyed greeting the rest of the Indigo-ites.
"How things have changed since you were last here", she said "There are a dozen of you now. How much bigger will your group get?"
"It won't", said Julian "There's no room".
"Unless a few start dying off", said Joby, darkly "And then we can replace 'em".
Dolores brought out her family and introduced them. Two brothers and a sister. The brothers were mainly noticeable for the both of them being completely bonkers. Simeon wore a permanent air of distraction, and gave the impression of his body being too big for his skin. He was prone to getting over-excitable, and couldn't control his limbs properly. He had been known to thump people and knock them over, not out of any malicious intent, but just because he was frighteningly lacking in physical self-control. His younger brother, Thierry, was completely and utterly tiresome in just about any respect anyone cared to mention. A compulsive teaser and winder-upper, he was incapable of talking seriously about anything, and lvoed to try and shock people by being as irreverent as possible. In some people (particularly in small doses) this could have been endearing, but in Thierry's case it was usually toe-curlingly embarrassing. In contrast to her brothers, Dolores' sister, Helene, was the epitome of serenity. A startlingly attractive woman with a seductive growl of a voice, she drifted through life with a placid smile on her lips. After a while of knowing her however this became unnerving, because Helene's expression never changed. Whatever happened that smile stayed firmly in place, like a woman who'd had one face-lift too many.
Dolores led them all into dinner, escorted by Hillyard, in his capacity as a visiting governor. Joby found himself being offered Helene's slender paw, and Kieran was dismayed to get Thierry.
"I'll take Freaky in", said Julian, when Joby looked anxiously at Tamaz "He won't misbehave with me".
"Don't say things like that", said Joby "He'll take it as a dare!"
The dining-table was large and round, and pleasingly well-endowed with bowls and dishes. Lady Red had been renowned for her hospitality, and Dolores was determined to try and emulate her on that level at least. Although she had no intention of trying to copy Red's phenomenal capacity for drink, Dolores had still dug out her collection of big crystal goblets, and these were all to be kept filled with wine and beer.
"I can't sit down as I am", Tamaz said to Julian, when they paused by the high-backed wooden chairs "My dress will get crushed, and it's been treated roughly enough this evening".
"Don't try and act prim and ladylike, Freaky", said Julian "It wouldn't even fool Codlik!"
"You wanted me to behave", said Tamaz, haughtily "Now hold it out at the back so I can sit down without crushing the taffeta".
Julian gathered up handfuls of the orange material and bundled it up.
"Not too much!" Tamaz shrieked, clearly heard by all at the table "You'll show everyone my drawers!"
"Isn't it a bit late to be worrying about that?" Julian snapped "Now sit down or I'll ..."
He caught Helene gazing at him serenly and smiled as pleasently as he could. No sooner had they sat down than Tamaz grabbed a goblet of beer and gulped it down like a greedy horse at a trough, spilling plenty down his cleavage as he did so. Julian noticed Joby watching them inscrutably from the opposite side of the table, and shook his head sorrowfully. Tamaz smacked his lips lustily, wiped his hand across his mouth, and then sat back on his chair as though he was a Roman emperor waiting for the next Christian to be thrown to the lions. He suddenly gave a very audible burp.
"Do you want your corsets loosening again, Your Ladyship?" said Julian.
Opposite, Kieran had problems of his own. He realised with a sinking heart that Thierry regarded him as the perfect stooge.
"You know I don't believe all this Saint Kieran shite", Thierry was currently saying "I never did. You're no saint, I'm glad to say. You're simply a beautiful faggot who likes being shagged. God bless you, you sexy little bitch!"
Kieran often replayed this character analysis of himself in his mind afterwards, and toyed with many different reactions he could have made, but none sounded right. Being a quick-witted Irishman, he wasn't normally at a loss for words, but this one had him stumped. He looked to Joby for help, but Joby was staring at Thierry with that lok of mild disgust he gave most people at social gatherings.
"I can't remember you from our last visit here, Thierry", said Kieran, rallying himself.
"We'd have certainly noticed you", said Joby, grimly.
"You were a bit engrossed with other things, from what I recall", said Thierry "Like poking the arse off Lady Red! I remember thinking at the time what style that little Vanquisher tart has. Not only does he catch that screwy hermaphrodite freak, but he has him locked up in a cage and tows him to the City! And then when you came here this time, there's the screwball wondering around in flouncy frocks, and you've got him tamed as your sex-slave. Yah, that's what I call style and no mistake!"
"That was all Joby's doing really", said Kieran "He has all the hard work of looking after Tamaz".
"Some hard work!" said Thierry "He dresses him up as a tart and pokes him! I wouldn't mind a bit of social-work like that!"
"If only it were that easy", said Joby.
"Hey Adam!" Thierry called across the table to the said man "Are you going to show us your nipple-rings, eh?"
"Can't we throw a blanket over him?" Joby muttered.
"Why do you want to see them?" Adam shouted back.
"Body-piercing's dead erotic", said Thierry "I'm thinking of having it done myself".
"The floor is open to suggestions as to where he could start", Kieran whispered, which caused Joby to gulp on his beer, and then snort madly as some of it went up his nose.
"Is it true you have it done for the pleasure the pain of it gives you?" said Thierry "I've heard some guys pierce their dicks because the pain excites them so much".
"I haven't gone that far", said Adam "I wouldn't have the nerve".
"I was under the impression body-piercing was a sort of rite of passage thing", said Dolores.
"It certainly was for me", said Adam "And I won't deny there's a macho element to it. But having your nipples done, for a man anyway, isn't as painful as having the tongue done for instance. I've heard of people not being able to eat or having trouble speaking properly for about 5 days after that".
"You ever thought about your tongue pierced, Thierry?" said Joby.
"Oh shite, no", said Thierry, missing irony completely when it was turned on himself "It might go wrong".
"I don't understand this conversation at all", Helene drawled. It was the first time she had spoken, and everyone looked startled. Up til now she hadn't touched any food or drink either, and had simply sat with her hands folded in her lap. Julian, sitting next to her, had begun to wonder if she was actually flesh and blood, and not an android instead!
"Everyone must try my caramelised oranges", Simeon erupted "Why hasn't the kitchen brought them out yet?"
"Simeon loves preparing sweets and puddings", said Dolores, as though excusing a flatulence problem.
Simeon got up from the table and barged around the room, opening and shutting different doors.
"Which is the way to the kitchens, Dolores?" he asked "I know you keep telling me, but I can't remember".
"Sit down, Simeon", said Dolores, firmly "The staff will bring them out when they're ready".
Simeon obediently went back to this seat next to Adam. Unfortunately his body gave one of its irrational jerks, and he swung violently to the right, almost knocking Adam off his chair. Dolores apologised, but Adam hastened to reassure her that all was well.
"We're used to eccentric behaviour", Toppy spake forth "He reminds me of Lonts".
"Toppy can go home, right now", said Lonts, fiercely "He's always trying to stir things. Is it any wonder no one wants to have sex with Toppy?!"
"Lo-Lo!" said Adam, sternly "And be quiet, Toppy. You don't make personal remarks like that in company".
Toppy blushed violently.
"This is a lovely dinner you're giving, Dolores", Adam went on, gamely.
"It's no trouble", said Dolores "I'm hoping you'll be with us here for a few days. We don't get much company in this part of the world".
"I'd like to return the compliment", said Adam "But entertaining on the Indigo won't be up to this standard I'm afraid".
"We could do you a show instead", said Bardin.
"B-but it's not ready", Bengo protested "We haven't done a full run-through of the laundry sketch yet, and that's the only thing that's anywhere near production stage".
"We can run-through it on the Indigo tomorrow", said Bardin.
"It sounds fun, I'd like to see it", said Dolores "If you perform it for us here tomorrow evening, I'll lay you on another supper. You would be doing us a good turn, as the evenings can hang so heavy here sometimes".
"It will be our pleasure", said Julian.
"But I said!" Bengo squawked "It's not ready!"
"It will be", said Julian, very firmly, and Bengo quailed.
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