Riwenne and her friends make a new plan to enter the Empire and save its citizens from the massacre. With the help of Illari, they can disguise themselves as the Scientific Circus. But first, they have to make some major changes.
We slept in the Revenge for the last time in the cramped bunks. Tika woke us a few hours before dawn. There wasn’t much to prepare because Illari’s ship was already packed with supplies. Deryt and Nexita reinflated the envelope using the gas tanks. It was a time-consuming process, but the large balloon would have given our position away to the patrols during the day, so it had been safer to deflate it the day before.
I helped repair the Prestige so it showed no signs of the battle. That way, it wouldn’t look suspicious. Luckily, Illari still had her traveling papers from the Scientific Circus.
“I don’t have the trained performers,” she said sadly. “I still have all the equipment, but we probably don’t have enough people to operate it all. We won’t be able to put on as big of a show as we did in Ruraqie. But if you all help me, we can throw together something flashy enough to keep up the pretense.”
Amena, who had put together concerts with almost no time, nodded. “I still have my song that I wrote for your company, although I’ll have to change my name. No one in Riqar should be able to recognize me on sight. I was scheduled to stop there on my tour of the Empire, but that tour was cut short.”
Deryt and Nexita both looked nervous at the thought of performing in front of strangers, but they agreed to help with the technical details.
Janera, Kyra, and I had a little experience as Amena’s back-up dancers, and thanks to our warrior training, we also had some strength and flexibility. But I couldn’t imagine doing anything as risky as the acrobatics we’d seen from Illari’s circus—especially since we wouldn’t be able to use magic.
“We have to keep a low profile,” Tika kept warning us. “No active magic use, even a simple illusion. We have to transform everything before we get there. Once the planetary warriors begin their attack, we’ll be able to take the city by surprise, but nothing before then.”
That also meant that everyone had to dye their hair and do whatever else we could to change our appearances. Illari had hair dyes in her ship. Everyone experimented to see what would look best.
Amena looked totally different with red hair, and the brown made Janera’s wavy curls look like chocolate. The red turned Nexita’s blue hair to purple. Kyra’s hair was already black, but the brown helped to dull her distinctive purple highlights. Deryt and Vilqa shaved their heads with no remorse, and rubbed a little red on the stubble left behind. Only Illari went untouched, because she had to be recognizable as the leader of the Scientific Circus.
But my hair stubbornly refused to hold any of the dye. Finally, I had to resort to magic after all. When I prayed to Quilla, my hair suddenly turned silver from roots to tip and grew out long—longer than I’d ever managed to grow it on my own.
“Do I look too much like the moon goddess?” I asked nervously.