When one thinks of a circus, what comes to mind? Red and white-striped tents? Clowns? Animals doing tricks? Tight-rope walkers and trapeze flyers? Popcorn and balloons? Well, yes. That's what circuses are, including the one Elaine Linx had just joined. The description wasn't… entirely false.
Elaine, however, was part of a special unit of this particular circus… the unit that was hidden behind the act of a normal traveling performance.
The truth was CIRCUS was fronted by a circus. It actually was a creature-hunting association specialized in the termination of vampires, werewolves, demons, and any other random creature who has strayed from the rules of the land and is therefore considered unlawful.
Elaine had worked quite a few freelance jobs for CIRCUS's chairwoman, Vanessa Pinch, before being accepted into their "community" (as Vanessa put it). Despite her limitations, being that she had no special powers other than the ability to summon her scythe on command, she was an expert in her craft. Vanessa hired her full time with high hopes.
"One of our best hunters is currently without a partner," Vanessa had chimed over the phone to Elaine that morning. "I'm sure the two of you will make an absolutely dynamite team!"
A dynamite team… Elaine had worked with a partner or two in her time but had never been assigned one. She couldn't help but feel a small flutter of excitement over the prospect of fighting side-by-side with one of CIRCUS's best. According to Vanessa, her new partner was so renowned that he never was involved in CIRCUS's cover performances (like most of the lower level hunters) simply because of the fact that 90% of the non-human population most likely had a bone to pick with him… or rather, wanted to pick their teeth with his bones…
Elaine herself was all-business with her short blonde bob, perfectly applied (modest) makeup, and (she hoped) professional look. She prided herself in being the type of woman one would trust their car keys, paychecks, and deepest secrets with. She was stubborn and smart and never let anything get in the way of her job.
Surely, her new comrade would be the same…
It was then that Elaine noticed Vanessa entering the office she'd been waiting in. Elaine had preferred to stand rather than sit, but still she jumped to attention.
Vanessa entered, stepping forward on her gazelle-like legs, olive skin glowing with her glossy raven hair flowing around her. "Elaine, darling!" She exclaimed, extending her arms and hugging the other woman. Elaine stood stiffly, not returning the embrace. "So glad you made it!"
Elaine's golden eyes didn't linger on Vanessa long before being caught staring at the rather bizarre person standing just inside the doorway, smoking a black-cherry flavored cigarette right next to the "No Smoking" sign.
He was tall and lanky, dressed up in an outfit that seemed to consist only of black and white. He was wearing a black button-down with a black and white checker-patterned bowtie hanging untied around his neck. His vest was white with black pinstripes and had four black buttons. His pants were black and a bit too short, showing his black socks underneath. His shoes were white and so were his gloves (though the gloves had a black X on each). He wore a white hat with a black and white striped band over his white hair with black tips. Even his beard was white with black tips! The only color really emanating from the entire form was the red-brown eyes which were lined with eyeliner in an almost costume-makeup fashion, sporting a curled line coming from his right eye, a gash ending in a diamond shape from the left.
He's… odd… Elaine thought, knowing full well that this must have been the man Vanessa had been raving about. She wasn't about to judge him by his strange choice of attire however. Everyone had their quirks…
"Elaine," Vanessa had been talking. Elaine hadn't noticed until now. "This is Victor Ainsley. He's your new partner."
A Cheshire Cat grin spread across Victor's features.
"Uh… Pleased to meet you," Elaine said sheepishly, extending her hand to him.
"She's so small an' proper, 'Nessa!" Victor marveled, his voice pouring out of his mouth in a loud but melodic British accent. He took her hand and kissed the top of it. She jumped out of shock. "M'lady," He smirked, "I look forward to working with you."
Is this guy for real?! Elaine wondered.
Victor burst into laughter. "Look at 'er, 'Nessa! 'Er face's all red! She can't resist my charm and good looks!"
"How dare you?!" Elaine barked, but it failed to faze him one bit. She turned to Vanessa. "You're telling me that this… this…" She couldn't think of a proper insult. "…this… p-person is supposed to be my partner? Him?!"
Victor stopped laughing. "What's wrong with me?" He asked, obviously offended.
"Well," Elaine replied in her businesswoman voice, "for one thing, you dress weird! Second of all, you're conceited and rude!"
"Well, 'ow is kissin' a lady's hand rude?" He asked. "Unless you're one of those ladies…" He added darkly.
Elaine wasn't sure what he meant by "one of those" but still she shouted, "NO!"
"Now, now, both of you," Vanessa's song-like voice interjected, calming the air, "stop that."
"Sorry," They both mumbled.
"Come, come, now, err-- what was it?" Victor asked.
"Elaine. Elaine Linx."
"Elaine. Please don't think of me as weird. I prefer the term eccentric genius."
She glared at him.
Victor turned to Vanessa. "She's a fiery little pistol, isn't she?"
"Elaine's combat skills are superior to many of our most experienced hunters, Victor," Vanessa praised, making Elaine glow with pride. "She's quite skilled in stealth and business lingo as well. Victor, she's perfect for the slot as your comrade. I adore your fun-loving personality, darling, but Elaine is strongest where you are weakest."
"Combat?" He guessed.
"Business." She replied. "She is absolute perfection in the mental aspect of hunting. Victor, you can't always just chase after them, setting fire to their heels and expect a catch every time."
"Well, it's worked every time before…" He pouted.
"Yes, but you're hunting top class demons now, dear. They're not stupid, you know."
"I know, I know," He complained, crossing his arms over his chest. "Don't take me for daft, 'Nessa…" He sighed. "All right, then. I can't say I have any qualms with partnering up with a pretty girl, regardless of the sharp stares I get from her."
Elaine pleadingly looked towards Vanessa, waiting for the punch line. How could this man possibly be an expert in his field? She'd read every book on the market about hunting creatures. He seemed more like the type who read comic books.
Vanessa didn't catch the look. "Splendid! You start tomorrow!"
"By the way, love," Victor mentioned, inching close to Elaine's ear. "Try 'n wear something' that matches me. 'Nessa likes it when we match."
Somehow, she found it hard to believe that Vanessa gave a damn about her choice of outfits.
Wear something similar because it'd be cool if we matched! She could hear his voice in her head already.
"…Fine…" She groaned. Despite her dislike, she couldn't ignore that he was currently her superior.
This… This was going to take some getting used to.