The Victory Ball
by: Ken Williams
Somehow, Rose was the failure of the Flowrs family, and yet, Aphid couldn’t even put on her dress right. The custom made, million dinot dress imported from the Island of Spiders couldn’t be worked by the most stuck up, annoying bitch of all the Hydrosian heiresses. Sure, Rose hadn’t been able to seduce the great Hydrops Shekal Watr, but at least he wasn’t eyeing up other women. Even with Nightshade, Rose could tell that it wasn’t genuine. He looked as if it was a part of a plan, as he did.
Rose shook off those thoughts as she finished getting ready herself. She was excited for the Victory Ball. She hadn’t gotten any quality time with her betrothed since he started the campaign in Pyros. Once again, her thoughts were interrupted, this time by Aphid.
“Lokel, help me with this dress.”
Rose sighed angrily, but went to help. She hated that name. Hydrops used it all the time for her, reminding her that their marriage was a farce; that love played no part, but she did feel something for him. Sure, he was rough around the edges, but he cared. He did care about her happiness. He often gave her gifts, mainly shiny things and psychic trinkets. Any jewelry Hydrops gave her would be worn frequently and the psychic things fascinated her. She wasn’t psychic herself, but she could feel a connection to it. Her mind was in the clouds as she tried to fit her sister into the dress.
“You know, Aphid, if you didn’t alter yourself so much to have these obscenely unnatural proportions, you’d fit.”
Aphid slapped her little sister.
“What I do with my body is none of your business. I was the first to self-augment breasts and mine will be the best.”
Rose rolled her eyes. Despite what Aphid believed, she wasn’t the first; that would be a stupid thing to assume with an amorphous race of people thousands of years old. Any amorphous race that would take thirty thousand years or so to find out that they could alter their bodies, would be one too stupid to survive thirty thousand years. Of course, Aphid revitalized the trend and her chest was probably the largest in Hydros. When Aphid wasn’t around, Rose would call those blobs her “vanity pillows”
“Aphid, get over yourself. Hydrops, Hyran, and Ivy will be here soon. Let’s get this over with and go.”
Aphid finally fit into her dress and they went downstairs. At the ground floor, they noticed their sister wasn’t there, the middle child. Rose called out for her.
“Sapph! Come out please! We’ll be going soon.”
Sapphire Flowrs came out wearing a lower cut dress than the others, certainly less formal. It seemed more like a party dress
“Alright! Let’s go, sissies!”
Aphid rolled her eyes. “Sapph, we’re supposed to wait for the Prince and his family.”
“Who cares about the Prince? I wanna party!”, Sapphire exclaimed.
Really? In this family, Rose was the black sheep. Next to the vain moron and the wild child, docile and humble Rosianna Flowrs was the worst. It couldn’t have come sooner when they heard a knock on their door. Hydrops Watr II, Hyran Deep, and Iviara Watr had arrived. Aphid curtsied and Sapphire kissed Hydrops’ cheek, which caused Rose to flare up in anger. The six left for the Ball Dome, a part of the Watr estate for parties for the Hydrosian nobility. Rose got in the hovercraft next to Hydrops. The two sat quietly. Hydrops was never one to talk for pleasure. He saved his words for when he wanted them spoken, and he could hear almost anyone’s thoughts anyway.
They arrived at the Dome quickly, and Hydrops stepped out first. His blank expression faced the entire entrance, scoping it out. He then looked at her.
He said, “Let’s go. Party time,” and threatened a smile.
He went inside, still wearing his purple armor. She wondered if he ever took it off. Sure, it was off when he was in the infirmary with a bullet having barely missed his nucleus, but Hydrops seemed angry at the time. And he acted so weird. She shrugged it off and went inside. She wandered for a while, looking for fellow ladies that she knew. After ten minutes, she saw Ivy and Hyran kissing, then she went to sit with Moss. Rose came up to the two and waved.
“Hey Rosi”, Ivy said with a bit of a laugh and hugged Rose, “have you met Moss?”
Rose sat down and shook her head, “No, I don’t think I have.”
Moss was a tall, thin woman, like a spear. She had short grass at the top of her head. She didn’t seem to enjoy it, but Hydrops wouldn’t have either. He preferred to be around people that had more substance than smiles, and this was an event for empty smiles.
“I’m Moss Stone, I guess my proper title is ‘Lady Stone’, but fuck that. I’m a better commander than noblewoman.”
Ivy laughed, “Sure, doing our duty for Hydros is great, but don’t you ever sometimes want to act like a lady?”
Moss’s eyebrow rose. “I signed up to become a woman, not a lady. I still don’t quite have a lady’s patience.”
Rose raised her finger in question, “’Signed up’? You weren’t born…”
“No, I was born a pudgy boy,” she said curtly, “I changed as soon as I realized I was able.”
Rose didn’t press further. Another lady came up and sat at their table. She smiled at Rose.
“You’re the Princess, right?”, she asked, fascinated.
“Yes, I am.”
“What’s the High Landsponge like? I hear he’s dreamy”, and batted her eyelashes.
Ivy and Moss both snickered, but Rose started to fume.
“He’s mine, bitch! Don’t go up to a lady and start talking about her man like you want him. Sure, he’s a bit harsh and unresponsive, but he’s still mine! How dare you-“
She looked at the lady again, and saw Hydrops in a dress. Ivy and Moss were on the floor, laughing, and Hydrops gave her a smug grin.
“You dick!”, Rose shouted and punched him.
“Hey, Rose, don’t you know you shouldn’t hit girls?”, Ivy laughed.
Rose rolled her eyes, “You know what, all of you can fall off a bridge.”
“Even me?”, Hydrops smiled, “Come on, you know you love me.”
She blushed and smiled, “Yeah”, and she kissed him. He didn’t return the favor. Rose noticed that Ivy was flicking her finger.
“You alright, Ivy?” Rose asked.
“Yeah, Moss and I just have somewhere we should go. Have fun, lovebirds.”
Hydrops laughed, “Good luck with your future hubby too.”
Ivy and Hyran’s wedding was coming up soon, probably close to Hydrops and Rose’s. Hydrops was staring blankly around the ballroom. People were coming in as the initial ceremony was about to begin, then the dancing would start.
“You know,” Hydrops started to say, “You should probably find friends outside my group. Sure, Ivy and Moss are good girls, but you should have some independence from my life.”
Hydrops pointed at a woman about her age, maybe a year older, “Go on, hun. Talk to her.”
Rose shrugged. She did think having more female friends would be nice, especially ones not so close to Hydrops, but she didn’t want to leave him alone. Despite her feelings, she stood up and went to the other Hydrosian.
The Hydrosian perked up to a smile, and adjusted her pink dress. “Lady Squall. Chrysie Squall.”
“You have a pretty name, Chrysie”, Rose said and sat across from her.
“It’s short for Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum Squall. What a name!”
“Rosianna Flowrs is mine.”
“Oh, I know. Everyone knows who you are, hun. Princess Flowrs.”
“Mind if I ask you a blunt question, about you and Hydrops?”
Rose laughed nervously, “I guess not?”
“Is he gay?”
Rose’s jaw dropped, “H-w-Hwhat?”
“Is Hydrops gay?”
“N-no? I don’t think so? He definitely doesn’t act like he likes girls, but not the opposite either.”
Rose cocked her head, “And why is that?”
“Honey, you’re about to marry that man. You know a part of marriage is, well, sex. And you want it with him, I can tell. You’re actually a bit of an open book.”
“Why do you care, Lady Squall?”
“I feel for girls all on their lonesome.”
She kissed Rose on the cheek. She didn’t mind it; she actually kind of liked it. Hydrops never kissed her at all. Before she knew it, Hydrops was onstage in his purple armor. “He changes quickly” she thought. The entire Dome roared in applause when he took the stage. He waited for them to finish before he spoke.
“Lords and Ladies of Hydros, I have great news. The new House of Representatives for Hydros is finished, along with the Atsin Calar Memorial. In honor of their completion, I think it’s time we put it to use. On the ninth day of the ninth month next year, we will have our first elections!“
Cheering and applause roared, save for a few, like King Hydrops I, his mother, and Lord Dacer Melon. They sat, silent, with frowns on their faces, but their way was the old way, and coming was the new.
“Candidates may begin their campaigns starting tonight. The only rule to be a candidate is that you must live where you’re running for office. Good luck to all of you!”
More cheering ensued.
“Now, for why we’re holding this party! The Third Pyros War is over! The Pyrosians’ navy is crippled and they no longer threaten the security of Hydros. Some have criticized me for leaving Pyros standing, and they believe I should have taken Pyros for my own. I want it to be clear that invading Pyros for conquest was never my intention. My intention was to cripple the enemy well enough that we would no longer have to worry about the threat of invasion ourselves.
“Finally. There is the issue of the Black Atular. It has come to my attention that Lord Mrdinar Glarigas has taken up with ancient demons to take power over Gelondar. To combat this new threat Hydros will evolve into the Hydrosian Empire. All nations of the world that join may get seats in our Legislature.”
Hydrops pulled out Lifethief and thrust it in the air, “The New Order is here!”
The crowd responded, “The New Order is here!”
Rose clapped excitedly for her fiancé. Chrysie put a hand on her shoulder, “You really love him, don’t you?”
“Would you do anything for him?”
Rose paused, unsure.
Chrysie giggled, “Stupid question, let’s go eat.”