Dumarest’s sense of urgency gets the best of him, and two failed attempts to infiltrate the circus result in him being captured and tortured by the sadistic ringmaster Zucco and the bouncer Ruval. Reiza, a lion tamer he encountered and impressed during his second infiltration attempt, releases and seduces him, but before he can escape Ruval shows up again. Dumarest kills Ruval, but his larynx is crushed in the fight. In one of the most over-the-top demonstrations in the whole series that Dumarest is the baddest of the bad, he gives himself a field tracheotomy and survives until medical attention arrives.
After Dumarest recovers, Shakira, the owner, offers him access to Melome if Dumarest will work for him as long as it takes Melome to recover his memories. The circus is home for all who are the best at their craft or are otherwise outcasts of society (including assorted mutants, psychics and sensitives like Melome who are not in the show but part of Shakira’s personal entourage). Shakira’s own talent is being able to recognize useful skills in others, though he is not forthcoming as to what skill he sees in Dumarest or how he plans to use it. Dumarest agrees, but almost immediately kidnaps Melome and attempts to escape. He is returned by a combination of the influence of Elagonya (another sensitive in Shakira’s employ) and the more physical methods of Zucco and Valaban, the animal handler. Interestingly, they are all out chasing each other in the wild when Cyber Tron arrives at the circus to collect Dumarest.
Long story short: Valaban is a Cyclan agent and has been promised he will be given control of the circus if he delivers Dumarest. Zucco is also trying to take over the circus, and is helping Valaban (not knowing he’ll be cut out of the picture if Valaban succeeds). Reiza is a flake, being Zucco’s girlfriend and alternating between infatuation with Earl and jealous hatred of him for being more interested in Melome. Zucco, a former champion of the ring, eventually challenges Dumarest to a duel. It turns out Zucco is a telepath, and has used his ability to read his opponents’ intended modes of attack and defense to stay undefeated. Dumarest figures it out in the nick of time and uses the knowledge to beat Zucco. Valaban kills Zucco so he can’t talk, Reiza tries to kill Valaban for killing her boyfriend, Valaban kills Reiza and Dumarest kills Valaban. Shakira has gotten rid of two potential usurpers, which is why he hired Dumarest in the first place (he knew Zucco’s telepathy would negate conventional assassination attempts, but recognized that Dumarest’s survival trait would enable him to beat Zucco).
As promised, Shakira allows Melome to help Dumarest retrieve his memories, but it turns out the log he saw was just the captain’s personal log, and the single page he read didn’t contain the coordinates of Earth or anything else of much interest. Then Tron shows up again and attempts to take Dumarest by force. Shakira kills Tron, but in the firefight it is revealed that Shakira is himself a mutant. Dumarest doesn’t care in the least, but promises to keep the secret. Shakira assures Dumarest that his pychics will be able to plant false memories in enough witnesses to convince the Cyclan that Valaban, Zucco, Reiza, Dumarest and Tron were all killed in a terrible battle. He also gives Dumarest a ton of cash as well as the name and homeworld of a man who may be able to help in the search for Earth.
Avro has now been exposed to the contaminated brains on several occasions, he has been exposed to the experimental drive on several occasions (although supposedly shielded), and he has lived life as a semi-intelligent, flying humanoid via the Affinity Twin. It might be unsettling but manageable for a Cyber, modified to be unable to experience any emotion at all, to use the Affinity Twin on a normal, emotional human. However, Avro is profoundly affected by experiencing raw emotions, animal urges and the joy of flying when joined with the angel. His logic seems intact, since the reasoning he uses to persuade Marle not to terminate him passes muster with the Cyber Prime. However, he seems to have developed intuition and a survival instinct that goes beyond a Cyber’s usual logical devotion to the master plan, and is willing to deceive his superiors to indulge it. It’s a very interesting development, and the reader is left hoping we’ll see more of this newly multi-dimensional villain.