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Dear Diary...

02/16/07

                It all started with the early news at breakfast this morning…

                There was a report about a controversy that was brewing about the 20th. There was a group that wanted to have a 'Hurray for the Change' parade on the 20th to celebrate 'Changeling Diversity' and the second anniversary of the event. They wanted to close down the Strip, have a parade, speeches, a real whoop-de-do. They feel that they really need a holiday to commemorate the event. But some Overlords were insisting that any observance of the day should be a celebration of Overlord supremacy.

                A spokesperson for the Changeling community said that they wanted some kind of celebration for ex-humans and that before the Change the Overlords "were nothing but zoo exhibits." I shuddered to think what was going to befall that person.

                Rodrick asked, "What about a Non-Changeling day? For those of us that haven't changed because we were happy with ourselves?"

                Just as he said that, there was someone on the TV saying the same thing and, "We should celebrate that we didn't lose anything, that we didn't Change." Then there were the people who just wanted a day off. The Seeker was quoted as saying that it should be a day to give thanks to the Overlords, of course. All in all it had taken a community issue and turned it into a political issue. There were protests going on and everything.

                In other news, Las Vegas Hilton officially announced that drawing and quartering has been removed from the Thunderdome wheel of fortune and would be replaced with being flung from a catapult. When asked if that constituted cruel or unusual punishment, the L.V. Hilton employee who had suggested it said, "It's not the thing you fling, but the fling itself."

                Wow - how Zen.

                We were about to go our separate ways, to do what needed to be done before pool time, and Olivia decided she would spend the day writing some scrolls to send out to her farms so that they would be able to reinforce their security walls. But the more she thought about it, she realized that would take several days; it would be easier and quicker to just teleport out to the farms and do it herself.

                "But what if I go to New Ectopia and hire a Mage to do it for me?" she pondered.

                Karyn said, "Why do that?"

                "You could hire some Dwarves to do build walls the old fashioned way," Rodrick suggested.

                Olivia liked that idea and told Karyn to look into that.

                I met Rodrick at the pool after checking on my construction crew and Olivia showed up a bit later with a couple of her harem girls in tow. Once again, pool time was interrupted. This time there was a contingent from the Changeling community who wanted to see me about the whole Change Day Parade. They were in favor of a celebration that would include everyone - Changelings, Overlords and Humans - and they wanted an endorsement from me. And in return for some funding, I was assured of a 'primo' spot in the parade.

                "But I'm not interested in being in the parade," I told them. "Although I do agree with you that if there's to be a celebration it should include everyone."

                When they figured I wasn't going to give them any money, they left. Then some petitioners appeared to speak to Olivia. They were a couple cats, leopards to be exact. And they were nuns, wearing modified Catholic habits and the question mark pendant of the Seeker. They said to Olivia, "As an Overlord of position, we ask you not to endorse the idea that the day belongs to Humans or ex-Humans but only to the Overlords."

                "Why not have two holidays?" Olivia asked.

                "Because it was our day of sentience. It is unique for us. Most Humans were sentient Before and have nothing to celebrate." I loved that: MOST humans were sentient! Boy, did she have that right! Then Olivia insulted the two women by asking if they were required to take vows of celibacy or if they were doing it with the Seeker.

                The Cats tried to retain a little dignity; "It is our choice until They make Their preference in the matter known to us."

                "Oh, so you're doing it like bunnies," Olivia said.

                And then Rodrick asked them, "Tell me, are your tongues still rough, or did that change when you did?"

                The Cats left, quickly. Only to be replaced by a group of my 'parishioners' who wanted to know the Cathedral's 'official position' on the celebration.

                "I hadn't even heard about any of this nonsense until a few hours ago - there is no position," I said.

                They were distressed that I considered it nonsense and that I had no answer for them so they persisted.

                "Well then, it is my opinion that there should be a celebration and that it should include everyone. That the day be set aside to remember the day that our world Changed. Because even if someone did not change their physical or spiritual selves - their world was Changed that day."

                That seemed to make them happy and they left us to our boat drinks. The evening news continued the coverage of the story. Two celebration organizers (from opposing camps) had gotten into an altercation and were prepared to go to Thunderdome. Apparently a Dwarf had started stomping on a Gold Elf, yelling something about hate crimes. That was when Caesar intervened.

                He held a press conference and announced, "After some consultation with religious leaders in both the Elven and Dwarven communities it has been decided that for Change Appreciation Day or Change Memorial Day, ALL will be invited to celebrate if they so choose. It will not be a day only for the Overlords." He went on to chastise the Seeker, "We will not have separatism of races in my city. All such thoughts should be secondary to the privilege of being a citizen of the great City State of Las Vegas."

                We watched it all and Olivia said, "Phillips helped him with that."

                "So very politically correct," Rodrick agreed.

                Olivia and I were both relieved that that was the end of that. Or so we thought. After dinner, Thomas paid me a visit.

                "You could have come for dinner," I told him. "You're always welcome."

                "Oh, thank you - but I came about the parade. A contact on the organizing committee let me know that the Temple of Ellistrae has already planned what they're going to do. Naked dancing!"

                "Is Slash going to dance?" Olivia asked.

                "She's the one who suggested it, "he said. "But we need to do something more dignified."

                "Unicorns?" Olivia suggested. "Or pegasi?"

                "That would be perfect!" Thomas said and I cringed. "I'd gotten no guidance at all and was hoping that you had."

                "No, not a thing," I said. "But I hadn't even thought of asking."

                "Is the Temple of Crom doing anything?" Olivia asked.

                "I understand that the War Temples are combining to present something," Thomas told her. And then he said to me, "But there's no way that we can compete with Ellistrae or the Temple of Aphrodite Kalliphrygia."

                I didn't even want to know.

                Rodrick suggested, "You're Elves - have some golden chariots pulled by wolves?"

                "Or have some buff, well oiled young Elves carry Jazz in a golden litter?" Olivia suggested.

                "No!"

                Then she asked him, "Are any of the Overlords doing anything?"

                He said something about them studying Mardi Gras and having found tons of plastic beads in the basement of the Orleans.

                "Karyn - the Aladdin must have something!" Olivia said. "I want a float."

                "Wait! I've got it," Rodrick said to Thomas, "Have the male Elves dressed like flowers and have the women dancing naked in between them and Jazz up front in a flowing white gown."

                "No!"

                Leo joined in the conversation, "That gives me an idea, I'll be back." And he left. Thomas said that he'd think about the suggestions they'd given him and said goodnight. About an hour later Leo returned. "It's all taken care of."

                "If you got me a giant swan float - I'm not going near it." (Guess I'm the only one who saw 'Drop Dead Gorgeous'.)

                "I didn't"

                "A giant phallic symbol?" Rodrick guessed.

                "No! Something suitable."

                Rodrick guessed again, "For her to ride wearing nothing but a little nightgown?"

                "No! Wearing robes befitting her rank and station."

                He is SO serious

                "I arranged for you to ride Mitzi," he said.

                "Mitzi?"

                "The dragon."

                "I know who Mitzi is!"

                "Are you going to ride sidesaddle?" Olivia asked.

                "I don't see a saddle on her at all - much less a side saddle."

                "I got a camel saddle on Fremont," Leo said.

                "And she agreed to this?" I asked.

                "Sure. She's excited about playing dress-up."

                "Oh. Great."

                "You'll both get to wear tiaras," he added.

                "And a sash!" Rodrick added.

                Olivia asked, "So Karyn - what's my float gonna be?"

                "What?"

                "Well you've had an hour."

                Karyn told her, "Give me 'til boat-drinks tomorrow to get something together for you."

02/17/07

                The morning news today had a report that the Overlords who had been poo-pooing Change Day as a 'Humanoid' party just yesterday had found out that some of the Overlords are taking part and suddenly all of them are now planning on taking part. It will be the place to be seen being seen.

                Olivia blurted out, "Death Sports! That's a great theme for a float!"

                Karyn sighed, "Just wait and see."

                Rodrick decided that he wanted to be in the parade, too. His idea - get himself a funny-car and race it down the strip to lead off the parade.

                "Yeah, clear out all the riff-raff," I said.

                "Oh! I know!" Olivia blurted. "I can throw chips from the float! And show off my girls!"

                "Will you just give me some time?" Karyn asked.

                That's when Leo said, "You've got a costume fitting in an hour."

                Olivia ignored him and he repeated himself, "You've got a costume fitting in an hour. Jazz!"

                He was talking to me?

                "Me? What for?"

                "For a costume…" he said as if explaining something to someone extra special stupid!

                "With who?"

                "With the woman who used to design Sigfried and Roy's costumes."

                "What? Oh goody. I can't wait. There will be no sequins."

                Karyn finally announced that Olivia's float was ready enough to be seen so we all followed her. In the parking garage we found a swarm of Hobbits building a giant golden lamp. Seamstresses were working on more harem girl costumes and there were stacks and stacks of low denomination chips for Olivia to throw to the crowd.

                To go with the Death Sports theme, there was a crew of Dwarves working on some crackers to be thrown out. Some of them had certificates to exchange for large amounts of money but some had explosive charges in them.

                "I don't want to hurt anyone!" Olivia said.

                So Karyn had them stop the assembly line, making them Dwarves grumble something about Elves. Olivia and I ignored them. Finally they agreed on crackers that would 'pop' and cover the unlucky person with red powder.

                How fun! Better than losing a hand, I guess.

                Besides the chips and the crackers, there were a bunch of little, rubber daggers for Olivia's girls to throw to the crowd. Olivia was happy.

                Rodrick asked, "What time is it?"

                "Boat drink time!" Olivia and I answered.

                We had just gotten comfortable when Thomas appeared, "I understand that you're riding a dragon in the parade?"

                "Yeah, that's what I understand as well," I said. "Someone arranged it for me."

                "That's just splendid!" he was excited. "It'll look great for us."

                "Make sure you don't chafe," Olivia warned me.

                "Oh please!"

                "Last night, we were trying to come up with an idea on how to best present the followers of Corellon, and there was a fellow there who was quite interesting. He was a member of the Vail Precision Wingtip and Lawn Chair Drill Team, Before, and was here in Vegas for the Change."

                "Oh good - that's dignified."

                "No - his real talent is for choreography. When we heard about the dragon he thought we could march along with you in some sort of synchronized display."

                "With lawn chairs?" I asked.

                "How about oak branches?" Rodrick suggested.

                "We were thinking of wooden staffs with ribbons and bells on them. And during stops in the parade we're going to have a rider on horseback throw targets in the air - to demonstrate skills."

                "Sounds swell…"

                "Wait! I've got it!" Olivia said. "And it's right up Corellon's alley." She suggested having the marchers carry little cups of soil with seeds and have the clergy make them sprout then hand them out to the crowd.

                Thomas liked that idea; "I'll go pray on it." And he left.

                A few hours later Mitzi showed up - all ready to practice for the parade. She'd gotten someone to put the saddle on her and she knelt down so that I could climb into it.

                I wasn't real happy to see that it had no seatbelt and looked for something to hold onto as she began to walk. She pranced a few steps and tripped over her own feet. I banged into the back of her head, but I didn't fall off.

                "Sorry Jazz," she said.

                "I give it a four!" Rodrick yelled.

                I got reseated and Mitzi tried it again and this time she kept her wings extended with the tips on the ground for balance.

                "Hey! Get rid of those training wheels!" Rodrick yelled.

                Mitzi promptly tripped again and this time I did fall off.

                "An eight, I give that one an eight," Rodrick said.

                "Nah - that was a nine," Olivia said.

                I climbed back on and told Mitzi, "Just ignore them - they're jealous."

                "Are you going to practice this wearing the tiaras?" Olivia asked.

                "Yes we are, aren't we Mitzi?"

                Then Olivia suggested, "Mitzi - why don't you just try walking like you normally do?"

                "Yeah," I agreed, "You have a lovely walk - don't try anything different."

                Well that really didn't work and Rodrick only gave us a three and half on the resulting spill. Well, Mitzi was upset then and began to cry.

                "Mitzi honey, you know what this is? You're just nervous with those two watching, let's go somewhere else to practice - someplace where no one can watch," I said. "But where can I take a twenty foot dragon where no one can see?"

                Suddenly she changed to her Human form.

                "What's wrong, Mitzi?"

                "You said you don't know where to take a dragon so no one can see you…"

                "Oh, I meant where can I take a dragon so no one can watch and spy on our plans."

                "But they're laughing at me."

                I glared at Rodrick and Olivia; "They're making fun of me, not you, dear." Then I got an idea, "How about the golf course outside of town? We can work there and then get some lunch. You fly out there and I'll follow you."

                So she changed back and flew off. I was about to use the wind to whoosh out there when Leo appeared; apparently he'd been watching it all.

                "Give me fifteen minutes," he said.

                "For what?"

                "To fix things."

                "What are you going to do to Mitzi?"

                "Nothing!" He was insulted and stomped off.

                He returned with an older woman from one of the work crews and introduced her as Debbie; "She used to work with the dancers."

                "Ah, so she's going to teach me how to be graceful?"

                "No, she's going to work with Mitzi." Apparently she used to work with circuses as well. She taught animals how to carry people and people how to ride animals. So I took her and Leo by the hand and took them out to the golf course where Mitzi was waiting for us.

                Olivia asked if she and Rodrick could go.

                "Will you behave?" I asked.

                "Oh never mind," she said.

                When we found Mitzi she was digging up a hole to get at a prairie dog.

                "Do you want lunch now?" I asked her.

                "I'm hungry."

                "Okay" - and I was just about to conjure up something for her - some fish, I was thinking - when she returned to the prairie dog colony and blew flames into one of the holes. Then she dug up the roasted dogs. When she was finished she cleaned her claws in a sand trap and was ready to try again. I introduced Debbie.

                "You go grab a seat, dear," she told me and then she told Mitzi to just walk for her.

                "Hmmmm, ok, first of all prancing just isn't going to work. A nice normal gait for you, my dear."

                After a few hours Debbie had Mitzi walking at a nice, smooth prowl and had gotten rid of the leaping start that Mitzi had. It looked like I might survive the whole thing. Mitzi was felling pretty happy, too. I thanked Debbie for her help and returned the three of us to the Aladdin feeling pretty sore.

                We had dinner with Rodrick and Olivia who told us that after we left - they had come up with ideas for some new Death Sports - Adventure Golf and Tennis. For the golf there would be 'hazards' like quick sand, laser turrets, razor grass, people lurking in the rough waiting to attack. Snakes, alligators and other 'challenging obstacles'. The tennis would have random trap doors on the court, mono-fiber nets, booby-trapped boundary lines and other things to hinder the players. They tossed some ideas back and forth and decided to take them to Jim. He agreed that they were onto something.

                Olivia told Jim, "It's time for new innovations - everything else is so 'last week'."

                He agreed, "And they have a lower overhead than some other new ideas that were brought to me."

                "Like what?" Rodrick asked.

                "Someone came to me with an idea for a show based on Indiana Jones-like obstacles. That one would be expensive." Some Orcs and Goblins had also approached him asking for a large sum of money to build a fortress. Then people could try to make their way thru it while Jim's crews filmed it all. Then there was the Combat Football idea - form a league with each of the major Overlords forming their own team to compete. Or a version of Fox and Hounds - if they could just figure out 'what' could replace the fox for people to run from; something scary but not too dangerous.

                "I think your idea will work," Jim told them. "We'll put it into development and see what we can do with it." Olivia had one stipulation - and that was that the golf and tennis be restricted to 'adventure' type participants, no welfare moms trying to feed their kids or anything.

                After dinner, I was still sore from my 'riding' lessons so I was in the hot tub with Leo rubbing my shoulders and back when things got crazy…

                Olivia was watching 'You Bet Your Life' (which was featuring a contestant trying to make nitroglycerine) and the show was interrupted for a news report - a nightclub that belonged to the former Lord Luxor had been attacked and there were numerous casualties, dead and injured.

                The videotape showed that the club had been riddled by automatic weapons. But the reporter said that whoever had done it appeared to have been targeting club employees and when everyone had run from the building, the attackers had trashed the place, destroying the video and audio systems and all of the pre-Change alcohol.

                Worried, Olivia called the manager of New Babylon and told him to call her if he saw anything suspicious at all. A loud explosion interrupted his reply.

                Olivia shoved her teleport ring at Karyn, "Get the others and meet me at New Babylon!" and she teleported herself there. Karyn and Rodrick found Leo and I in the hot tub. Leo grabbed his clothes but all I had was my robe. I threw it on, took the ring from Karyn and took us all to Olivia's club.

                The place was on fire and her security people were pulling people out. Mages wearing Venetian colors suddenly appeared and began casting quenching spells to put the fire out. I went to where they were moving the injured to and started triage. Most injuries were minor, and the more severe ones were the women who'd been in the restroom next to the bomb.

                The manager was bleeding from some slight shrapnel wounds, "Wow! That was quick," and he explained that a bomb had gone off in the upstairs men's room.

                Rodrick asked him if there were any surveillance cameras.

                "Of course."

                "Can we see them?" he asked.

                In his office we watched the tapes and about fifteen minutes before the explosion some ladies leaving the club were bumped by something going thru the door, something that we couldn't see. And then a few minutes after that, the door opened by itself, stayed open long enough to let someone pass and then swung shut again.

                Olivia asked for a bucket of water. She changed it into white paint and then she cast a Fairie Fire spell on the paint. "Take this and outline all the doors and windows with it. If anything Magic passes thru them the paint will glow," she told the manager.

                Lucifer arrived and asked if there were any casualties.

                "There are, Jazz is looking to them."

                Rodrick was in what was left of the men's room looking for bomb fragments when one of Lucifer's men entered, "Are you on the staff here?"

                "I work with the Lord Aladdin," Rodrick said.

                "Okay, do you mind not touching the evidence?"

                The guy got to work retrieving evidence and found something particularly interesting, he held something up with a pair of tweezers and asked, "Does Lord Aladdin have any enemies willing to set off a device like this?"

                "A few," Rodrick admitted. "Did you find a marker?"

                "Yeah, look at this, part of a military grade remote timer, standard issue for the special forces. I'd say it was a couple pipe bombs stuffed with C-4. I'll let the Overlord know."

                "Which one?" Rodrick asked.

                "The one who owns the club."

                Back outside, Lucifer's cell phone rang. He listened for a bit and then his ears laid back, "I'll be right there."

                "What?"

                "The Halfling you defended the other night. He and a number of his associates have been found dead in a drainage ditch."

                "I think it's time to visit Michael and Vincent," Olivia said.

                "Too late," Luci told her, "I've had them in custody since the first incident this evening. They were dining in a restaurant in front of several hundred people."

                Olivia snapped, "So they had someone else do it."

                "I know that!" Luci snapped right back.

                "Have you truthspelled them?" she demanded.

                "I do know how to do some things without your help."

                "And?"

                "They said they didn't know anything about it."

                Rodrick volunteered to go over to the Golden Nugget and check things out for us while Olivia; Leo and I went to the morgue to check things out.

                At the morgue, Lucifer's people already had some preliminary reports. There was a total of twelve dead Hobbits and they had all been shot multiple times. There were two weapons used, both .50 caliber Desert Eagles.

                "One man killed them all," we were told. "He must have lined them up and started blasting, a weapon in each hand. We found two piles of shell cartridges equally spaced."

                Olivia asked how long they'd been dead.

                "Only a few hours, and we had several reports of people hearing gunfire - that's how we found them to begin with."

                So we found a body that still had an intact jaw so we could question him. It wasn't easy - a .50 caliber shell does an amazing amount of damage to something the size of a Hobbit.

                But we finally found one and I asked, "Who killed you?"

                "Didn't know him. He was Human, Mexican, maybe? Had long black hair."

                Olivia said something about that movie, Desperado.

                "So, we're looking for Antonio Banderas?" I said.

                The Hobbit said, "No - he was tall, six-two maybe six three."

                "How did he manage to get you all in the same place?"

                "We were meeting at a friend's house, to discuss business matters. He walked in and said, 'You're all coming with me,' and we couldn't help ourselves, we followed him. Then he told us to get in his van, and we did. He drove around for awhile before stopping. He told us to get into the ditch and line up. We did everything he told us to."

                "What kind of van was it?"

                "An old UPS van, I think."

                "And what else did this man say?"

                "Good evening, gentlemen. My name is Muerte." And he repeated everything else he'd already told us.

                We didn't get anything else useful and we got out of the morgue and went to a conference room.

                Rodrick joined us. After he went to the Golden Nugget he stopped by the Aladdin and got me some clothes and my gear (bless him!). We told him what we had learned and he told us what he'd discovered.

                When he got to the Golden Nugget to check on the men that Vincent and Michael had moved into the place, Lucifer's men were already there checking on them.

                "All known associates have very public and airtight alibis."

                Rodrick asked them about surveillance tapes.

                "We're still reviewing them, we'll let you know if we find anything."

                Rodrick was shown were they were all being held for questioning and they were loudly proclaiming their innocence, "We was just having dinner! We understand what an inconvenience for a business owner to have that business attacked like that."

                Rodrick was wondering if the group had purchased any property yet and went to the Hard Rock to find out. Yasai summoned his Ferengi who brought her books with him.

                "They've purchased no real estate, yet, and everything they do is absolutely by the book," Maga told him. "And it stinks. I've been thru their records forwards and backwards and cannot find a thing!"

                Rodrick asked, "Have there been any major purchases in the last few weeks? And if so, by whom?"

                "There have been some minor transactions - neighborhood bars, nothing significant, nothing unusual."

                "Well who's been doing that?"

                "A couple of the Overlords purchased neighborhood bars to turn them into something like a 'company store'," Maga said.

                "Nothing to newcomers?"

                "Not a thing - everything is too perfect. They don't even cheat on their expense reports! It all makes my lobes itch"

                "Do your records show anything for them?" Rodrick asked.

                "Just what you'd expect: drugs and prostitution."

                Rodrick thanked them for the information and left to meet us, via the Aladdin.

                We asked for and received a few of the shell casings that had been recovered and Olivia used them and her crystal ball to scry the killer. The crystal remained clear. Something was keeping her from finding the person. She paused, took a deep breath to clear her thoughts and tried again.

                This time we saw a man in a small hotel room. Looking out the window we could tell he was somewhere on the Strip, we could see the Stratosphere off in the distance - but couldn't pinpoint where exactly. He was working very diligently - reloading shells. As he finished each one, he wiped it clean of fingerprints and loaded it into a clip. In the room he had a sleeping bag, jugs of drinking water and a dufflebag that was full of other gear.

                "Wait! Go back a little," Rodrick said as Olivia was panning around the room, she moved back to the guy's bed.

                "Right there," he pointed to a padded case on the bed. "That's a .50 caliber sniper rifle."

                Olivia asked him, "Can he reach the Stratosphere with that?"

                "Oh yeah."

                "Jazz, call Phillips." But before I could do it, Karyn was moving for the phone. Rodrick asked Olivia to see if anyone else was in the room and if there was a door connecting the room to another. No to both.

                Olivia called Lucifer to let him know we were going to go grab the guy.

                "Do you need backup?" he asked.

                "It's only one guy. Should we take him back to my dungeon?"

                Lucifer said, "We really need to tie him to these guys."

                "We'll work on it."

                So, before we could go grab him, we had to figure out where he was. The hotel he was in looked pretty run down so it must have been abandoned for awhile.

                "We could just keep an eye on him - you know, see what he does," I suggested. "And if we leaves, we can follow him."

                "I can makes us invisible," Olivia said.

                "But we'd better not get too close, in case he might be able to detect the magic," I said.

                Lucifer said, "I'm going to send some people to the Strip to see if we can find out where he is."

                "Be subtle," Olivia warned him.

                So we watched the guy. He worked on the reloads until a little past midnight. He finished and began to pack his gear into steel cases. Then he pulled out a small box the size of an Altoids tin which, when opened, turned out to be the size of a foot locker, and he stashed all the other cases into that one.

                He cleaned the sniper rifle and neatly re-packed it. He dropped the cleaning cloth on the floor and it started to move! It moved around the room, wiping any surface that the man might have left prints on.

                Olivia said, "Karyn, call Lucifer - tell him the guy's getting ready to move."

                He checked the room for anything he might have forgotten, nodded in satisfaction and put on a ragged old John Deere ball cap. And his looks changed! He looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, straight out of the Wizard of Oz! Then he got something from under the bed - an honest - to - goodness Nimbus 2000 broom! He opened the window, and off he zoomed.

                Olivia followed him as flew to the NY/NY. When he got there, he slowed down and went from room to room, listening at the windows with a stethoscope. I cast the windwalking spell on all of us and took Rodrick and Leo with me to the NY/NY. Olivia was going to stay and keep an eye on him. She could use the wind to catch up with us if she had to.

                At the NY/NY, we stayed as far away as we could, but still be able to see the guy. He stopped at one window, pulled something from a coat pocket and unfolded it, then he threw it against the wall - it was an instant hole! He flew thru it, set the broom down and removed the hole.

                Rodrick, Leo and I found a vent and whooshed thru it, found the room next to his and entered it. It was abandoned, but clean - they'd even covered the furniture with tarps and sheets to keep it clean. And we lucked out - the first room we tried and it had a connecting door. I sent a message to Olivia letting her know where we were and asking her to keep us updated.

                She told me that once in the room, he'd taken off that hat, and his looks changed back to 'normal'. Then he'd opened the curtains and looked down at the Strip, nodded as if pleased with something and opened the Altoids tin.

                "Let's take him, "Rodrick said.

                "He just pulled out the rifle case and got the scope - then he checked out the Aladdin!" Olivia told me.

                "Let's take him," Leo said.

                "He cast some kind of darkness on the curtains and filled the room with some sort of light and now he's just eating an MRE and reading a book."

                "Let's take him," Rodrick said.

                Olivia said, "Lucifer just told me, his people are almost in place."

                "Let's just do it," Rodrick insisted.

                I sent to Olivia. "I'm stuck in a room with two bloodthirsty SEALS who really want to go get him now and I agree with them. Care to join us?"

                So we agreed that on the count of three (one, two, go! Not one, two, three, and then go) we'd go thru the connecting door and she would teleport into his room. We burst thru the door, with Rodrick and Leo in the lead. The guy reacted instantly - he rolled off the bed and came up firing. With a .50 caliber Desert Eagle in each hand. With speed and accuracy that can only be described as scary, he blasted three shots at both of them. Three shots at EACH, I mean.

                Rodrick wasted no time and fired back - but the guy dodged all but one of the shots.

                He hadn't noticed Olivia yet and I felt her throw some Magic towards him - to no effect. (She told me afterwards, that she had tried to disable his mind. Good idea - really too bad it didn't work). Then Leo was firing - and the guy dodged all of his shots. I stepped between Rodrick and Leo and called the Power for a flame strike.

                When the flames cleared...the man was angry.

                He started blasting with both of those guns. When the clip in one was empty he slapped in another one without missing a beat or having to put a weapon down. Needless to say my dodging skills weren't up to the challenge - I was down and I was hurt badly. The man saw me drop and spun - firing on Olivia and hitting her at least twice. Rodrick stepped in front of me, dropped the gun he'd been using and swung his stoner up into position, firing in bursts.

                The guy's armor took it all.

                I Felt Olivia throwing Power around again and then I saw her throw him, towards the window. There was a brief second when I thought that the curtains would keep him from going thru, but they didn't. and with a horrible sound of breaking glass he flew out the window.

                I pulled out my Healing wand and used it on myself a couple of times and Olivia used hers on Rodrick and Leo. Leo helped me up and we gathered up all the guy's stuff and whooshed down to the street and gathered around the pile of splooge.

                Lucifer's men came running around the corner, "We heard gunshots…oh."

                Olivia pointed at the pile, "That's the guy." She noticed that one of his guns had survived the fall and as she picked it up she noticed a pulse of energy coming from his body. She threw some Magic its way to interrupt whatever it was.

                It didn't work.

                "Get back!" she yelled and threw some more magic at it. This time she formed the Power into a 'wall' around the body. Just in time. The guy exploded in a huge fireball that was directed entirely upwards and away from the gathered people by the wall Olivia had raised.

                "So much for questioning him," I said.

                Olivia looked at the gun and decided it would make a great offering to Crom. She held it up and it was engulfed in golden flame. When the Light faded the gun had changed. The engraving that had read "Muerte" now reads "Suffer No Guilt" and the symbol of Crom replaced a skull and crossbones beneath it.

                She handed it to Rodrick, "I don't think I'd ever be able to fire this."

                He thanked her and took it; he also claimed the sniper rifle and reloading equipment. The John Deere hat had changed and was now a floppy gray beret. Rodrick plopped it down on my head and it turned into a tiara, of all things.

                "Do I look like Margaret Hamilton?" I asked.

                "Nope."

                So I kept it. I also kept the broom - how cool - a Nimbus 2000 of my very own!

                Rodrick was looking at the ammo for the rifle and Olivia told him that it was enchanted - so who knows what it's really capable of. We looked thru the guy's cases and found some camping equipment, a solar array for small electronics and a TV/DVD player. And in one small case were some small white cloths that tried to get out when I opened the lid. They looked like the one he left behind in his last room - they were squeeking and trying to get out, like a bunch of gung-ho scrubbing bubbles. Creepy, but neat!

                We noticed that Lucifer was there with his men. "What took you so long?" Olivia demanded.

                "It takes time you know. Time to organize, deploy, etc. And besides - it was only one guy," Lucifer said. "Who was he anyway?"

                "He was going to snipe me from his window," Olivia said

                "We think," I said to myself.

                "Well then, it's fortunate that he's dead."

                Olivia nodded, "I think some people from Reno need to have their asses kicked."

                Rodrick disagreed, "The people we need to kick are right here in town,"

                We collected the rest of the guy's loot and headed back to the Aladdin to check it out. The portable hole will work on any surface, the Altoids tin opens up to the size of a footlocker - but if you climb into it - it's the size of a boxcar! We divvied up the little cleaning clothes amongst us and then sat around Healing (and sulking, to be honest).

                Karyn finally asked, "I presume you took care of the problem?"

                "Yeah. Some guy named 'Muerte'," Olivia told her.

                Her eyebrows went up and she looked impressed. "Hmmmm? Really?" she asked.

                "You know him?" I asked.

                "Knew," Rodrick corrected me.

                "I knew of him," Karyn said. "He was a real player, Before. One of those guys you send for if you have a problem to be resolved. He'd come into a town and people wouldn't know he had business until it was done and he was gone."

                "Well we're not going to have that problem anymore," Olivia said. "He didn't know how to fly - or actually - land."

                Karyn continued, "So the people you're dealing with must have some connections to be able to find him. Whoever he's working for (and the other two who visited you) should be taken more seriously."

                "We should take care of Michael and Vincent," Olivia said, "they called for back up."

                "Maybe," Karyn and I said together.

                "That guy Michael - eh, but the other one - Vincent, he's definitely a wise guy," Karyn said.

                "So will this deter them or are they going to send two guys next time?" Leo asked.

                Karyn said, "When you send a guy like Muerte, you expect the problem to be resolved, but now? It'll be like 'we tried to be reasonable, and now it's time to get crazy'." She thought for a moment."There's a chance that they might send in some serious problem solvers. Like you guys - people with no regard for collateral damage but they won't care who else gets hurt."

                Olivia said, "We need to take care of these guys."

                "Great - we don't know who 'these guys' are," I said.

                "We can kill Michael and Vincent then ask them who they work for," Olivia suggested.

                Rodrick said, "Or have Lucifer or another Cat put the whammy on them."

                Karyn agreed, "That's a good idea. No offense, ladies, but dead men only answer so many questions."

                "Good point," I said.

                Olivia asked, "Does Caesar owe us a favor?"

                "To avoid all out warfare in the streets of his town? I bet he'd be interested in helping us," I said.

                So Olivia called Phillips, "You weren't sleeping were you? Did you hear? There was a mob hit out on me."

                "We think," I said to myself.

                "But now the hit-man's just a stain on the sidewalk outside of the New York New York," she said.

                "I had not heard," Phillips said. "But it was hardly worth waking me."

                Olivia asked, "Do you remember Dominic? The guy who was drawn and quartered? He worked with two guys named

                Michael and Vincent, we were going to kill them and question them, but it was suggested that it might be better to have an Overlord whammy them."

                "So why didn't you wake up Lord Venetian? That would be his domain," Phillips asked.

                "Because he admitted in confidence that he sometimes has troubles whammying people," I explained.

                "Very well," Phillips said, "I'll bring it up to Lord Caesar."

                Olivia said, "Be sure to mention that there is the possibility of all out warfare in the streets."

                Phillips said goodbye and we all went our separate ways to get some sleep for a few hours. Allison even came to get Rodrick and to 'tend his wounds'.

continued...