Danny and Lhandi are fucking. It was always a potential, but after the heroics in Big Little Grande, it was a done deal. Jep walks in on them and demands that Lhandi stop hurting Danny. This leads them both to believe that Jep either never knew what sex was or he has forgotten. Jep says the only reason he interrupted was because a weird guy wearing pretty clothes is in the bar asking for Lhandi. This turns out to be Rance St. Dandy, the official message bearer of Lhandi’s parents, and he is much. Lhandi’s parents are inviting her back to Aurion as they are being presented with the Outstanding Citizens of Aurion Award, an extreme honor. Lhandi agrees to attend, which causes Rance to squeal with joy (again, he is much). Danny expresses his distaste for Aurion and how snobbish everyone there is. Lhandi responds, “Good thing you’re not coming, then.” Lhandi appreciates that Danny wants to go with her, but she thinks it’s just a bad idea to have both sides meet each other. Danny is surprised how hurt he is. (“Guess I’m just some kinda wicked nice lay to you, huh, Lhandi?!”) Lhandi, confident Danny will get over it, returns to Aurion with Rance. But Danny can’t get over it and decides he’s going to crash the party. He’s so distracted by feeling insulted that he doesn’t notice that the Oasis is being followed.
Lhandi is greeted warmly in Aurion, though her parents are slightly put off by how she’s dressed and that her arm that had been cut off still hasn’t completely healed. Rance decks Lhandi out in a gorgeous Aurion-style dress and begins introducing her around the party. It’s a typically lavish Aurion affair: fountains of de-radiated water, socialites sharing stories about their maids being stolen in the night by Sand Creepers, hors d’ouerves made of baby zebra. The effects of spending time on the Oasis instantly begin to show themselves in Lhandi’s words and actions (referring to the mayor’s wife as “some kind of wicked nice lay” is frowned upon, unfortunately). Just as she’s starting to feel out of place, Lhandi’s ex- fiancé Olin (of the Wilding Festival debacle) arrives. Lhandi’s prepared for it to be awkward but Olin is actually much more laid back since she last saw him. Apparently, after the Wilding Festival he decided to start going to therapy and has been doing a lot of work on himself. They actually start having a good time together.
Outside, the Oasis sits parked on the other side of the city’s walls. Danny instructs the crew to watch the bar while he crashes the party. Jep, of all people, advises Danny that he should probably dress up if he’s going to such a high-class affair. In true Danny fashion, he simply grabs an Aurionian, knocks him out, and takes his suit. As Danny leaves the Oasis, a boom toad hops inside before the door closes. Jep, Xanthena, and Tetsuo all clock this. “Toad got in. Should take care of that.” “Shouldn’t be too hard.” “Nope, shouldn’t be too hard at all.”
Back at the party, Lhandi and Olin are having a dance which is cut short when Danny makes a loud entrance. Lhandi wants to be annoyed, but she’s actually really touched that he wore a suit, even if it does seem to have a bit of blood on it. She introduces Danny to her parents who, though civil, are thoroughly judgemental. Lhandi’s mother pulls her aside to chastise her for inviting a “wasteland person” to their important night. “They bring all manners of trouble with them.” Lhandi is about to disagree strongly when one of the walls is blown open. The chain gang prisoner from the end of Chapter 8 stands in the hole surrounded by a few large prisoners he freed as well. They begin laying waste to the place, smashing furniture, killing guests. Danny freezes in his tracks when he sees them. The lead prisoner approaches Danny and asks, “Remember me?”
Before Danny can answer, the prisoner knocks him out with one punch and throws him over his shoulder. One of the prisoners shoots Lhandi’s father in the chest and when she tries to help him she ends up captured as well. They storm out leaving the partygoers terrified.
When Danny and Lhandi come to, they’re chained up in the remains of beached frigate. Lhandi demands to know who they are and why they’re doing this. The lead prisoner turns to Danny and asks, “You wanna tell her, or should I?” The lead prisoner then tells a story about how he used to be the king of the wastelands, the greatest outlaw ever, how his exploits were countless. He then describes meeting a meek young man on one of his adventures and how he brought this young man under his wing, taught him how to survive in the wilderness. Everything was good until one day when the young man betrayed him, threw him to be torn apart by sandworms, and left him for dead. But, obviously, he didn’t die. He survived, barely, and swore he’d get revenge on the young man who did this to him. He continues, “I’m sure you can guess who the young man was, but you may not know that back then he went by Blake. But I guess you figured since I was dead you could just have my name, couldn’t you, ‘Danny Doom’?”