The Time-Dragglers’ Extravaganzas

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      “Whatever you proclaim as your identity here in the material realm is also your drag. You are not your religion. You are not your skin color. You are not your gender, your politics, your career, or your marital status. You are none of the superficial things that this world deems important. The real you is the energy force that created the entire universe!”

      RuPaul , Workin’ It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style’

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        The news of the Russians shook her and Sadie contemplated using the time in the carriage to do extra visualisation around a successful outcome for their mission. However, the temptation to get more details proved too tempting. Her Mentor at The Academy, Yuni Sauce, had advised she should curb her tendency to look at what is and spend more time creating what she desired the outcome to be, however Sadie found this a difficult habit to break. Especially when she was tired and worried that her bowl haircut looked ridiculous. It was okay for her 3 companions, they were wearing wigs! Well, it had seemed like a good idea at the time, she mused, trying to make light of it. Maybe she could ask her companions for some styling advice.

        She distracted herself by doing some quick research on her e-zapper; she discovered that on the 5th Jan 1757 a French domestic servant, Robert-François Damiens, attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate King Louis XV, by stabbing him with a knife. Damiens was captured and endured horrific torture before eventually being killed. Sadie shuddered at the description of the barbaric administrations performed on the poor man, who some thought to be mentally instable. Perhaps if she ran into Damiens she could warn him not to do it! She quickly dismissed the fleeting thought as foolish. It was strictly against protocol to knowingly mess with events in other time frames—other than the specific mission—and she could well lose her position at the Bureau if she were to disregard this rule. There was a difference of opinion as to whether changing events in time would alter the time line they were currently on, or whether a new parallel reality would be created. Until further research she knew she must adhere to protocol.


          Queen Marie, Our Good Queen, as the little gents liked to call her, had not been as excited at the prospect of the salon since a long time.
          She ringed the bell for the servant girl to bring more wood, as drafts of chilly air were coming from outside. Although quite modern and shiny, the palace was not as equipped for the cold season as the old castles from her mother land. Worse, with age and soft weather, she’d grown accustomed to being warm, and couldn’t bear the cold any longer.

          The crackling sound of the pine wood inside the small chimney was comforting and brought her back to her thoughts. A salon, full of delightful witty people, with laughters and costumes, entertainment and champagne wine. She’d heard a special batch of barrels from la Maison Ruinart would be brought especially for the Royalties. Of course, she knew most of those were small favors for the King’s mistress, Reinette, but she didn’t care. Oddly enough, she didn’t mind the woman, who had been always very delicate and considerate towards her, almost affectionate. To be honest, she was a blessing, as the inextinguishable appetite of the King for the flesh and woman beauty was now too hard to bear.

          But a party like this, ah… She reveled in the thought of seeing again monsieur de St Galle and the mysterious Comte de St Germain who always was the light of the party with his extravagant stories.

          The servant had finished to dress her for the night, putting her new powdered wig on the parakeet shaped wig-holder. She’d bought the wig with its lacquered holder in the morning from a small shop in Paris, which was had quite an aura of mystery she’d heard. Naturally she’d wanted to see for herself.
          The wigmaker was a gaunt and unassuming young man who notwithstanding made an impression on her. Jean-Baptiste’s wigs were simple and elegant, albeit not terribly inspired. His eyes, on the other hand, had a piercing yet soft gaze about them, and didn’t seem embarrassed to look at her, almost through her, as if she were a person, instead of the Queen surrounded by a retinue of bland people eager to please.
          “Let me draw you some fingers” he’d said to her, changing abruptly the topic from his rambling about books he was inspired to write about symbols. He’d forgotten the traditional address of “Your Majesty”, yet wouldn’t be stopped —regardless of the shocked expressions on the people’s faces.
          “You see, I love symbols, and when I draw people’s fingers, I can foretell events to come”.
          So that was it, she’d thought, the reason why everyone was ranting about him. He’d better be more inspired at that than wigs, as her patience was wearing thin.
          She’d had fortune tellers draw her cards a few times, but the fingers drawing part was curious enough to entice her into removing the glove off her eburnated fingers and letting him do his trick.
          An eldritch feeling crept though her spine as he was uttering words for each of the fingers he drew on with a slight pull of his hand, just enough not to crack the joints.

          In the bed warmed to a delightful temperature by the bouillotte, she began sliding into deep sleep, while a mixture of words half-forgotten or half-remembered danced around in her mind like the swirls of snowflakes dying on the warm window of her chamber: “funny moment, cold diversion, dream parade, house moustache pink, blue wonder carpets, possible king turned, green mirror travel, understand whole large parade”…


            Consuela perused her E Flapper for costume ideas, and was delighted to find that this era was “particularly identified with hair and makeup as these became such potent symbols of aristocracy during the Enlightenment and French Revolution. France and (to a lesser degree) England were the fashion leaders of this era”.


              Sanso was positively bummed. With the sudden blanket of cold and snow falling down on the road and his carriage, he couldn’t use the transdimensional puddles which were either dried out or closed by a layer of ice. To make things worse, he had to take care that the barrel of champagne would not burst out at the rear, with all the bumps in the road, and had to slow down the zebras a little. The poor beasts were looking paler at every mile. He had promised to return them in good health to the Royal Menagerie of Versailles, and started to fear he’d gone over his head to impress Sadie and her lots.
              Chair, the appointed footman seated on the champagne with his cork bum didn’t look reassured either at every bump of the road.
              Of course, he had a plan B. Linda Paul wouldn’t have hired him if it were not for his knack for over-the-top unexpected and brilliant out-of-the-box solutions to problems he hadn’t planned for. He would give Linda Paul the show they deserved.
              They would have to go through one of the tunnels down the road, which he knew would lead them to Versailles in no time. But for that, he had to find the proper one, large enough and clear enough to allow passage for the carriage and his cargo. The entrance was near, and with a bit of magical focus, they could arrive before sunrise through the Grotto of Thétys, an artificial cave, now mostly demolished, but its residual cave energetic imprint could do well enough to let them through.


                Maurana was starting to feel queasy in the lurching carriage, and asked Sanso to rein in the zebras so that she could step outside for a moment. As soon as the steaming animals clattered to a stop, Maurana threw open the door and skittered down the steps, and issued forth a long mustard coloured ribbon of projectile vomit that draped the hedgerow like a garland.
                “Darling, that gorgeous mustard colour goes so well with the wild roses, I really must have a gown in those colours!” said Conseula, who was still planning her new oufits. “A rose gown with mustard ribbon garlands, and a whalebone corset and hoops of course. I say, Chair, where did you get your cork bum from?” she added, as the footman climbed down from atop the barrel of champagne to stretch his legs.
                “From the best bum cutter in France, Gilles Culeau. He has a secret recipe for the most comfortable bums you can buy, and in my job, you need a comfy bum. He uses a special outer casing of cork, and stuffs it with ferret fur, for extra warmth and comfortable padding ~ not like those cheap solid cork bums you find in Paris. Culeau’s bums are made from the finest imported Seville cork…”
                “Where is his shop, I simply must have one ~ do shut up that ghastly retching Maurana ~ where Chair, can I procure a Gilles Culeau bum?”
                “Well this is your lucky day, bichet, because he has an establishment in the hamlet at the entrance to the tunnel.”
                Maurana, if you’re quite done with that vile spectacle, will you get back in the carriage. We’re going bum shopping, toot! toot!”


                  “Is this a breach of time travelling protocol?” wondered Sadie. “Strictly speaking timewise, cork bums aren’t fashionable for another twenty years or so.”
                  “Well, I suppose that’s how trendsetters operate normally, how else would fashions change?” snapped Conseula, whose heart was set on a new Gilles Culeau bum. “And if you think I’m going to settle for the sheeps head wig currently popular, when those gorgeous elaborate confections of jewels and feathers are just a decade away, you’ve got another think coming!”
                  “I do think it would be wise to wait until we get there first before deciding on costumes, so that we fit in, you know, stay inconspicuous. Not only that, but are all these bums and whalebone hoops going to fit through the tunnel?”
                  “Incon fucking spicuous? Us? In this timeframe? Are you completely mad?” retorted Consuela. “Not fucking likely! Say, Chair, can you recommend a wig shop?”
                  Sadie sighed, and hoped the tunnel was very wide, and very high.


                    They arrived to the tunnel, it was almost dawn. Sanso spotted a ghostly flicker near the entrance. The cave network was guarded by a kind of protective spirits who checked your mission order so they could establish the right connection between the way in and the way out.
                    Sanso felt a twinge of irritation as he recognized the ghostly figure.

                    “Rifraf”, said Sanso as affable as he could manage.

                    “Stop”, said Rifraf with a tone cold enough to freeze your spine. “You know the procedure”, he added with his hand stretched in front of him.

                    Sanso looked into his rough leather bag to find the mission order. He could swear that the objects and papers had moved on their own while he wasn’t looking. It was a mess. He looked carefully at the paper he found and handed it to the guard. Rifraf seemed to have slowed his movement on purpose. He looked at the document. He looked at it again, looked at Sanso briefly, and at the document again.

                    “This document is incomplete, you can’t pass”, said the spirit.

                    Sanso looked at the mission order and realized that he had handed the copy. The original had two curly fleurons on the top and on the bottom. That’s why he didn’t like this one, he was a bit too rigid about the protocole.
                    Where was this … document ? Sanso looked in his bag frantically as Rifraf was beginning to disappear. Here it was. “Hold on”, he said to the ghost. he checked quicky if there was no other typo or missing element. Everything was there. He just hoped Rifraf would say nothing about the grease stains.

                    The guard snorted and nodded, as if reluctantly. He waved his hand and blue torches began to light up, showing the way.

                    “Follow the blue lights”, said Rifraf and he disappeared.

                    Sanso felt the warmth flowing back in his bones. When Sadie looked out the window, he was feeling much better. “What is taking so long ?”, she asked with a frown.
                    “Administration”, he said with a grin.

                    She answered with an eye-roll and her head disappeared in the coach. The sun was rising.


                      Joseph, the puppeteer felt a drop of sweat fall from his left eyebrow. The Queen had frowned. She was selecting the artists for the party and she didn’t seem very pleased by his performance. The string from the puppets kept breaking. He had tried all those he had brought with him and it was his last. Unfortunately he wasn’t responding very well to such a stressful situation. He hoped he’d have listened to his wife when he’d woken up this morning. “Take the frog”, she had said. And he had taken the donkey.
                      When the tail of the animal fell from its butt, he awakened in his bed, all wet. His wife was snoring as usual. It all had been a dream.


                        Jean-Pierre Duroy, the Grand Intendant of the Palace of Versailles woke up every morning an hour before dawn, when everything was still calm, the last fêteurs of the guest nobility were, at last, fast asleep and the stars’ lights were beginning to fade on the dark sky. The Palace was never sleeping really, but this was as close a moment of peace as he could get.
                        His wife Annie, the Head of the Royal Pastries Chefs, would usually sleep contentedly an hour more, waiting for the chantecler’s sonorous hail to the rising sun.

                        When he realized he had overslept for the first time in many years of services, he knew there was something not quite right about this particular day.
                        As usual, and especially during winter, there was much to be done. Preparing the routine menus for the noble tables, getting his army of little people bustling around to stock the fires with wood for the cold-fearing ladies, clean up, wash clothes, drapes and the darn mirrors. Receive the fresh foods from the local markets, clean up the latrines, which tended to get clogged with the dreaded cold… When that was done, he had to make sure the servants were doing their job properly, not abusing the generosity of His Majesty, taking good care of the Gardens, which was an horror when the snow started to melt, ensuring the guards reported to their duties, etc. etc.
                        And after all that, no matter what, do a meticulous accounting in the Royal Ledger.
                        Jean-Pierre was but a cog in that enormous machine, but a cog which could make a vital difference between a day gone right, and a day gone awfully wrong.

                        He had to turn that day around quickly lest it would be the latter, he thought while putting his white starched breaches. A last look at his wife who was starting to move her weight around and yawn, and he was out.


                          The e-zapper’s signal was dropping until it was gone, while there were eerie hoots and echoes in the tunnels.
                          Sadie’s report to Linda Paul would wait till a few hours. The broadcast wouldn’t start until the afternoon anyway, so they had time to relax. The carriage wasn’t so comfortable, but the blue lights provided a smooth reassurance, and the zebras were now trotting at a regular pace.

                          Sadie looked with fondness at the boys in drags. A fondness which even surprised her. They were starting to reveal more of their true self as they were lulled to sleep in the carriage. How funny she thought, how a few drags and accessories can both hide and reveal parts of your personality.
                          Cedric, was a white guy from uptown actually quite challenged to grow a real beard, and he was playing that sassy bearded lady queen Consuela.
                          Amar the second-generation North African guy was raised in the suburbs before he chose to become the shiny Terry Bubble, while Reginald from the same neighbourhood was playing Maurana the big burly black queen,…

                          The more Sadie spent time with them, the more which labels they chose to be called with started to become inconsequential.
                          She was actually more and more confident they would do a great job at blending by simply hiding in broad daylight. Their eccentricities would be a rousing success at the royal fête, they just had to hone their alibis a bit, and align on their story. As soon as they would be in Versailles, with the Russians from the competing cable network in toe, they had to be at the top of their games.


                            Linda Paul had not expected the whole time displacement, and even as he accepted it with a healthy je ne sais quoi of nonchalance, he’d started to notice strange effects. Déjà vus and double occurrences seemed to happen, he wondered if Sanso and Sadie had not unwittingly started to shift their time-space continuum…


                              Although the ride was smoother inside the tunnel, the breakneck speed and jolting of the previous leg of the journey had taken its toll. Cedric’s back was aching, and he was impatient now for the journey to end so that he could relax, stretch out, and get the damn corsets off. His neck was stiff from the weight of the wig, his toes were cramped in the narrow shoes, and his eyes were red and sore from the lavish make up. Fuck this, he muttered, 21st century boys clothes are alot more comfortable.
                              “Wait until you see the clothes in the 22nd century, Cedric” whispered Pseu, who had heretofore been keeping a low profile. “Living breathing moving fabrics, that shape themselves to whatever position you’re in, supporting yet flexible and not restricting in any way.”
                              “Sounds heavenly, why can’t we go there instead?”
                              “Because you wouldn’t want to come back, that’s why. Why do you think it is that you hardly ever see time travellers from the future in the past? The damn clothes, that’s why! It takes a brave gallant soul to subject themselves to the clothes of the past, even briefly.”




                                  They did only realize they got out of the tunnel when the dimmed blue lights faded completely. It was almost pitch black apart from a few braziers in a narrowing vaulted tunnel paved in the manner of a future metro line.
                                  The passengers had noticed the transition from the smooth gliding gait of the zebras to the clopping of the hooves on the cobblestones. Sadie peaked outside of the carriage
                                  “Have we arrived? Where are we?”
                                  “Rightly so, darling. We’re under the grotto. Technically, it’s a chapel now. I did some adjustments underground.”
                                  “Mmm…” Sadie nodded indecisively. She couldn’t find the least rude way to nod without letting her thinking it was utter rubbish show through. So she kept quiet for a moment and even refrained rolling her eyes. “So, we’re….?”
                                  “We’re at the North Wing of the Palace, darling. It’s just nearby the Royal Opera House of the Palace, where your show will be held tonight, your e-flapper should have told you that. Don’t mind the construction work, it will give a steampunk feel to your show before it’s even invented.”
                                  “Of course.” she said evenly. “The North Wing. Well, we all in need of sleep and refreshing before tonight’s show, so…?” trying to worm out meaningful words from Sanso seemed a futile attempt.
                                  “Fancy that, darling, I have another delicate extraction of time stranders to go to,” checking a greasy paper from his shirt pocket,… “in last century or so, I can’t afford to be late. Let me help you lots out of here, leave it to Chair to take back those zebras to the Royal zoo and deliver that barrel of fine champagne, and you’re on your own.”

                                  Before Sadie could tell the word rude, Sanso had folded the carriage back unto itself, pocketed it and disappeared in a wallmhole —leaving only beside herself, the mute Chair on top of a barrel of vintage champagne, four exhausted and pawing zebras, and three sleep-deprieved disheveled divas.

                                  At least, the secrete cave of a Chapel is not overly conspicuous she said, trying to cheer herself up, remembering her training that light would prevail.


                                    Anna’s voice and young face trailed off as the Queen emerged from her dream. Confused for a moment, she tried to get rid off the undefinable guilt she always felt when dreaming about her late sister. You simply didn’t speak about Anna. And you couldn’t take pleasure in childish dreams.

                                    Her guilt soon transformed into a mild irritation and she frowned as she remembered the cavagnol game of the previous night. She had lost again. The amount didn’t really matter, it was more about the principle. She always lost. But she took a momentary pleasure in thinking that Jeanne-Antoinette also lost most of her bets.

                                    With a sigh, she looked at the big ornate windows. Someone had opened the heavy velvet curtains while she was still asleep, and it certainly didn’t help keep the air warm in that time of year. Nonetheless, she enjoyed seeing the sky when she woke up, even in winter time when it was still dark or like today, when the colours of dawn preceded the Sun. She couldn’t believe she had slept so long.

                                    It always was a too brief moment alone. As if summonned by magic, three maids entered the room silently, two of them holding her morning dress, that they carefully deposited on a chair, and the other holding the copper basin of fresh water for the Queen’s quick morning ablution. The maid put it on top of the sauteuse chest made of rose wood and carved beautifully. One of her daughters once told her that she swore the chest in her bedroom was alive and would jump on her bed at night to play with her.

                                    One thought leading to another, she looked at her collection of stuffed toy, unconsciously counting them and checking if they were all in order. She had two cabinets made of rose wood especially for her “friends” as she used to call them. She had begun to buy them after she almost died giving birth so long ago. At first it was just a simple gift from the King. She first thought it to be a lion, but apparently it was one of those Asian dogs. The finish was crude, it had small beady eyes and the curly tail didn’t hold very long on its bottom, but she developed a liking for it. And after a few weeks, she felt it needed a friend, so she had a lion made as a companion for her asian dog.
                                    Her ladies-in-waiting, began to bring her new ones, little dogs (she had a liking for them), zebras, fluffy cats and dwarf goats, she even had an owl and two rabbits, one white and one cerulean blue.

                                    Her eyes almost missed the twin ferrets, offered to her by Saint Germain after a gambling party. He had said they would bring her luck. She didn’t really liked them, they were scrawny and heavy, certainly weighted with lead.

                                    It was time to get up, she had her weekly Polish concert to organize. One of her small pleasures.


                                      The youngest maid, Adeline, quickly placed one of the rat like toys at the bottom of the large basket of laundry she had come to collect.

                                      The Queen has so many; she will not even notice this small one. And there are two of them. What does an old woman like the Queen want with toys? she reasoned.

                                      It was Adeline’s small brother’s birthday tomorrow and there would be no fine party for him. She knew he would love this strange toy.The few measly coins she received each week for slaving over her mistress left nothing for luxuries. It was barely enough to survive. Although she knew she should be grateful she was not on the streets like so many others. She noticed a small tear in the seam of the toy. All the better! If she were found out she could say she was taking it to mend. She knew if she were not believed there would be a heavy price to pay.


                                        Finding a time smuggler on such short notice was near impossible, Linda Paul soon found out when she hit the web. There were sure long lists of pages offering the services at seemingly attractive prices, but then never covering all the highly recommended options, such as the time collision waiver, and collateral time damage waiver.
                                        She had a pretty good idea of what she needed to smuggle back and when, but all the time pathways simulations seemed to run into a dead-end.
                                        After a stroke of genius, realizing that the one-timeway drop-off prohibitive surcharge may be the reason why she couldn’t get decent tariffs, she changed her simulation for a return.

                                        “Time and item of origin/return…” she muttered as she typed “Queen Anne’s crocheted ferrets, 1625, Louvres Palace”.

                                        Of course, going forward in time was easy, so she would simply need to give specific instructions to the time smuggler to pass on those bloody ferrets along the timeline.

                                        A click here, accepting the long conditions with hardly a glance, “blabla, not covering extra temporal charge… blabla… ensured discretion, yes, yes, service cannot be used to leave historical artifacts protected by the amendment on the … or any incongruent item blabla… smuggling service comes with no obligation of results…”
                                        The rest was piece of cake.

                                        She already had the perfect time mule in mind for the delicate mission of reintroducing the crocheted ferrets where her dragqueen competition was now held.


                                        When Nicole du Hausset, widow of a poor noble man, one of the two femmes de chambre of Madame de Pompadour, first hear Madame talk about her first encounter with the Count in 1749, she remembered immediately about her mother, and grand-mother’s secret instructions.
                                        A few nights later, she wrote down in her diary “‘A man who was as amazing as a witch came often to see Madame de Pompadour. This was the Comte de Saint-Germain, who wished to make people believe that he had lived for several centuries.”

                                        For some reason, she was to find a way to give him two scrawny century-old (and quite frankly smelly) crocheted ferrets, as a token for the Queen.
                                        She still had seven years or so to make it happen, that was time ample enough to do the deed, if the Good Lord would grant her enough life, or else she would need to pass the burden to the next of kin.
                                        She’d never known exactly why this was significant, but she’d been told that her family’s past riches were due to the success of this task, passed on to the next generation until 1757.

                                        It didn’t take very long. An elaborate and convincing lie did come easier to her than she would have known, and the Count swallowed it hook and sinker. Next thing she knew, she’d glimpsed the plush beasts in the midst of the menagerie of the Queen, and felt relieved of a life and generation-long burden.
                                        She could now return to a simple and uncomplicated life, although she would sometimes wake up at night in cold sweat, having had dreadful nightmares that the ferrets had disappeared before the date.


                                          “What on earth are you doing?” asked Cedric, watching with amazement as Pseu suddenly ran off towards the piles of construction materials near the Royal Opera House of the Palace.
                                          “Shhh! I’ll catch you up in a minute.”
                                          Pseu had received an urgent message from one of the other characters on her chaptershiftwatch, a young fellow in Grenoble called Jacques Coctuit. Jacques, like many of his friends and neighbours, was crouched on the roof, throwing tiles at the soldiers below. When Jacques ran out of tiles, his burning desire for more tiles blasted forth, and Pseu registered the request, and simultaneously broadcast a request for tiles.
                                          The heaps of doubly fired tiles scattered around the building site of the new opera house would be perfect, and although their disappearance would be noticed, it would not create as much fuss as would any new materials disappearing. Nobody would mind much if a pile of rubble to be discarded went missing. Quickly and efficiently, Pseu teleported the tiles to the roof Jacques was sitting on, who noticed merely that there were more tiles than he thought, and would only later, after the adrenaline had worn off, wonder at how they had appeared in a pile by his side.
                                          Pseu had one of the tiles diverted to The City as a memento, to add to her collection of Key Incident Link Tiles (or KILTs for short) for the new Teleport Folly at the Estate.


                                            Pseu’s project was to provide connecting links between focuses of “Big Daddy” Benedict’s attention at any point in the shift chapter book, a sort of Oversoul 8 in some ways, but operating in a more physical manner, like a time traveller from the future, but she was neither and both of those things and more. Pseu Dan was pioneering a new type of Scope of Attention Pool (SOAP for short), and was appearing fully physical (as well as fully non physical in others) in a number of times and places simultaneously. Her area of particular interest was, however, developing more efficient links with the capability of transporting physical matter as well as energetic information, as desired. As well, Pseu was developing an energy field of un noteworthyness, so that she could participate physically without difficulty, but with a sort of cape of invisibility energy rendering her physical presence (or physical disappearance at times) to be completely unremarkable and unregistered objectively. To Cedric and Jacques, she was visible and familiar, but to the others she appeared merely as a sort of stage prop or scene populator. Sadie, though, ah well, that was a different story.


                                              The oldest maid, Mirabelle, quickly stuffed the other toy ferret into the queens cork bum basket that she was carrying. Furtively she glanced around to make sure nobody had seen her. Triumph! The Russians would be pleased with her success. She was looking forward to the rendezvous in the Folly at midnight.

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