"False alarm, it's only the band!"
"Love you too, Wes." I stuck my tongue out at him as I swept into the room, cymbal stand in one hand and Sydney in the other. I kinda had to drag her a little bit. She was busy looking all around in slack-jawed amazement at the castle, at the decorations, at the assembled pilots.
"Whoa," was all she could say. I had to chuckle; usually Syd's the outgoing one, the one who can't be fazed by anything, and I'm the shy one. But we'd never played a gig in a castle before, and even though I had prepped her on what was going down, she'd never seen real live aliens before. Or maybe she was just impressed by the way Wes filled out his jester's outfit. That's always a possibility.
I saw Antigone, resplendent in a brightly-colored can-can costume; she was hurrying down the stairs. "Sorry we're late," I called to her. "Traffic was hell. We composed a whole song about road rage on the way here."
She stopped dead in her tracks and gaped at us for a moment, then burst out laughing. "I'm sorry, Varg--is the rest of the Rocky Horror cast waiting in the van?"
"Hey, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a halfway decent French maid costume," I told her. Especially, I added silently, one that wasn't so low cut I was in danger of popping out during a press roll. All the same, the compliment felt good; Syd and I made a passable Columbia and Magenta.
We had introductions all around and then Antigone told us to set up in the ballroom. "Better hurry, though," she added. "You're lucky you were the first ones here. I'd rather you not drag equipment through while everyone else is arriving."
"The Weather Channel says there's a storm coming, too," Hobbie added.
"Nonsense, there isn't a cloud in the sky," I said, trying to coax a smile from him. I couldn't help but notice that he looked particularly handsome (albeit gloomier than ever) in his Hamlet costume.
"With all these big, strong, handsome roadies to help us, we'll be set up in record time," Syd said, giving the assembled Rogues and Wraiths a bright smile. I nodded to myself. Once her initial shock was over, she was taking it all in stride.
Our new "roadies" had us unloaded and in the ballroom in almost no time; Piggy (taking care not to dirty his white disco suit) and Runt (looking suspiciously like Secretariat) hauled my drums, while Gavin, Corran, and Ooryl carried Syd's bass gear. They couldn't help but lend a hand when they saw that she uses Rogue amps.
Syd and I have quick setup down to an exact science, so the pilots mostly stayed out of our way and let us do our thing, much as we'd have enough sense to stay out of their way during a pre-flight check. But once we finished taping down the last cable and tuning our gear, we had time for a breather and Wes brought us some cider.
"Bet you can make a lot of noise with those," he said, eyeing my kit.
"Can I try 'em out?"
Antigone came back in to shoo him away. "Wes, let them sound check in peace."
Then the doorbell rang.
"So much for sound check," Syd said.
"That's okay, we've gone without one before," I told Antigone. "Go be a hostess, we've got our end under control. Trust me, once we get going, we'll wake the dead."
"Thanks, but no thanks," Antigone smiled. "Rocking the house will be
Continued in Part Three