Leo, as always, was up first, but he didn't go in to the embassy - he stayed and made sure that no one disturbed me and finally woke me himself about 11:00, the same time everyone else was getting up. We met for 'brunch' and to watch the midday news. Karyn had no new information for us but told us, "I'm going to speak to the front door staff about letting just anyone in to talk to you two ladies."
"Oh good," I said, "that's just plain rude anyway - dropping in unannounced."
The news was mostly about the holiday and they'd put a positive spin on it, "Despite some early rumblings from some malcontents, the parade will continue in a true spirit of interracial comradity and cooperation."
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
When it was all over I went to check on construction and Olivia got a security detail together and went to check on the repairs at New Babylon. While she was there she spotted a flyer on a public bulletin board on Fremont Street, it read, "Hey Ladies! Tired of the meat market approach of the mainstream Lesbian bars? Would you rather have a place like the bar in Cheers? Someplace where you can talk to your significant other rather than just taking her in the back to f*ck? Then the Fox Trot is the place for you! Comfy booths, low lights and cheaper drinks!"
It listed an address off the strip and said that there was going to be an opening night party on the evening of the 20th. Olivia took the flyers, looked around and saw that there were more of them - all over the place.
She returned to the Aladdin and as they passed the Golden Nugget, Olivia realized that we still don't know who's responsible for the bomb at New Babylon. The rest of they day passed quietly until about 10:00 p.m. when Olivia got another call from the Manager at New Babylon. He reported that the entire stock of alcohol had been changed - into piss! So we went down there to check it out.
The place was very, very quiet - music was still playing and the house dancers were still dancing but there were no customers. We all watched as the bartenders removed the bottles from the selves behind the bar.
"This is war," Olivia said. Then she asked if the Fairie Fire paint at the doors and windows had detected anyone coming or going.
The manager shook his head, "Not a thing, just all the sudden - everything went bad."
So, how did it happen and who did it?
Rodrick asked if Olivia could figure out what type of magic had been used. She cast out a small magic and was able to identify it as a divine magic of some sort and that the person who did it had been inside the building. She asked me to give it a try to see if I could narrow it down. I did and learned that the person responsible was a Priestess of Aphrodite - a high ranking one - at least as high as I am.
I told them and Rodrick asked, "Have we pissed them off, too?"
"Your rank, hmmm?" Olivia said. "Well we know Jazz is easy enough to kill, so this shouldn't be too hard."
"Hey!?!" I said and Leo joined me.
But Olivia was ignoring us and asked the manager, "Can we see the security tapes?"
"They're all ready to go."
On the way to his office, Olivia stopped, "Are all of the employees accounted for?"
Watching the tapes we saw lots of 'normal' activity. The only things we saw out of the ordinary was a large sized woman who came in by herself and then later made a real scene - confronting and yelling at the staff. Really rude and crude.
"I bet she's the distraction," I said.
Then there was her complete opposite - a petite, rather ordinary woman came in. She had brown hair - medium length, glasses - completely ordinary. She also came in alone, sat at the bar alone, and other than ordering her drink - she never spoke to anyone. She never even drank her beer - just sat and looked at it.
Then there was a couple. A couple of men, two obviously gay men who were rather uncomfortable with their surroundings. They took a table and ordered drinks, and they too, never drank them. But they did repeatedly check their watches. They finally got up and left, just before the alcohol was changed. We asked the staff and none of them had ever seen the men or the large woman before and no one could seem to even remember the mousy brunette.
"What do we know about the Temple of Aphrodite?" Rodrick asked.
"The Temple's at the Mirage," I said, "they took Sigfreid and Roy's old theatre." We decided to pay a visit.
Walking in the main entrance - took my breath away! The Temple looked exactly like my worst nightmare - everything that I feared Corellon's Cathedral would look like.
It was tacky.
It was gaudy.
It was overblown.
There were marble statues of Aphrodite, all in flowing, skimpy 'robes'. It had lots of art deco. The walls were covered with murals depicting stallions running free in meadows full of flowers. More marble statues - of naked women embracing unicorns and pegasi.
It was appalling.
Even in Las Vegas, of all places, it was over the top.
A Temple attendant asked, "May we help you?"
"We would like to speak to the ranking Priestess," Olivia said.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No. Go tell her that Lord Aladdin would like to speak to her."
The attendant said, "Go tell Lord Mirage that you would like his permission to enter his domain."
Four big, hulking men appeared to 'escort' Olivia out of the Temple.
One of them grunted, "All of you."
I objected, "But I'm not an Overlord!"
"You're with her."
Just as we walked past them, Rodrick let a really loud one rip (Ah! To be able to fart on command) but they all ignored it. They led us out the doors, closed them and stationed themselves right in front of them.
In the main lobby, Olivia approached the receptionist and stated her business. The poor woman looked none too thrilled, but left to deliver the message. We were kept waiting and I got bored so I started yelling, "Hello!" to test the echo. It was pretty good. I kept doing it until Leo poked me to get my attention. He directed me to the gigantic aquariums behind the old registration desks.
Inside were some Sea Elves! They signaled to me that they could hear they echo as well. I laughed and gave them a big thumbs-up. They laughed back at me and swam off. That's when the receptionist returned, followed by four more big hulking men. But these four were heavily armored and armed with some really big BFG's.
The receptionist said, "His Lordship requests that you leave." She was obviously scared silly and as soon as she said it she scooted out of the line of fire.
Olivia said, "Oh don't wet yourself. I'm not like Lord Hard Rock - I don't kill the desk clerks."
Rodrick said to the nearest big guy, "Make sure those safeties are off."
The men never said a thing - they just marched us out to the car where Olivia called Phillips. "Can we talk?"
He sighed, "Very well, meet me in the lobby."
Once there, Olivia told him, "I have a question about the law. What does it say about one Overlord harboring someone who is making war on another Overlord's business?"
"I beg you pardon?"
So Olivia explained to him what we knew (or thought we knew).
"You do realize that this has something to do with the disappearance of two rather famous prisoners?" Phillips said.
"Mirage cares that they're gone?" I asked.
Phillips nodded, "Aphrodite got that spot because Her Priestess was the only one strong enough to Heal Lord Mirage after Binion finished with him."
"Oh, but it wasn't his fault," I said.
"She did not care," he said. "So you have a previous history - one that overshadows the fact that he wanted them gone."
Olivia asked about pulling the Priestess of Aphrodite into Thunderdome for messing with her club.
"We have no real proof," I pointed out.
"We can't even speak to her," Olivia said.
"Remember that the level of proof needed against an Overlord is much higher than the proof against a 'normal' person," Phillips said. "But also remember that she is not obligated to press charges against you."
Then Rodrick asked, "Is the Temple going to have a float in the parade?"
"Not per se," Phillips said, "but they are going to participate, I understand."
Rodrick thought for a moment, "Will everyone be starting in the same staging area?"
"Yes, at UNLV."
You could hear the evil thoughts forming in his mind.
"But what does the Priestess of Aphrodite care about Olivia's club?" I asked.
"Maybe she doesn't," Rodrick said.
Phillips said, "It's hard to say - follow the money."
"I bet they're behind that new bar!" Olivia said.
I asked, "But who is 'they'? The Priestess or is someone paying her?"
We thanked Phillips and left. Outside, Rodrick said he wanted to go over to Fremont and I said that I'd go with him. Olivia was going back to the Aladdin to try some scrying.
"So what are you looking for at the market?" I asked Rodrick.
"Some supplies for the parade," was all he'd say. I followed him around and in no time at all he'd purchased some bungee cords, a good sized hunk of cured hide and about three dozen really big balloons.
"Now we need a paint store," he declared. We found one and found some cans that hadn't dried up yet. We mixed them all together - they made some pretty hideous colors! Then he found a beat up old pickup truck, hot-wired it and drove us over to a parking lot at UNLV and parked a fair distance from the parade staging area. While Rodrick assembled his giant slingshot, I filled balloons with the paint.
It was just before dawn and Rodrick was testing trajectory and distance (blah, blah, blah) when some of Lucifer's security people showed up.
"Ma'am, Sir - why are you engaging in this behavior?"
"We couldn't sleep," I said.
"And it's almost boat drink time," Rodrick said. "But we've got a prairie dog problem. We're gonna scoop 'em up and fling 'em."
The security people seemed unimpressed with those explanations; "We're going to have to charge you with public intoxication."
I stepped forward and said, "I swear, as a Priestess of Corellon, that neither one of us have had a single drink all day."
"We need to see your papers." Rodrick and I handed them over and they looked at them - then at us. We smiled and waved.
Rodrick said, "You may have seen us on TV - running thru Bellagio's fountains?"
More vehicles showed up with more men. The new guys conferred with the first ones. They looked at us and said, "Step away from the contraption."
"Okay," said I.
"Go sit over there," they pointed to the new vehicles. "Not within touching distance and keep your hands on your knees."
"Okay," said Rodrick.
"Hey Rodrick, think we might get a ride in the paddy-wagon?" I asked.
"And no talking!" we were told.
"Fine," I said, earning a glare.
We sat and more cars arrived - two black sedans pulled up and four Cats got out. They were wearing black suits and dark glasses. We laughed.
They identified themselves as "Venetian Security, Division Six. We've got this."
The others left and the Cats approached Rodrick and I, "Alright you two - what are you up to?"
"I wanted to go for a ride in a paddy wagon!" I whined.
"It could still happen," the biggest Cat said. "What are you up to?"
"Payback," Rodrick said.
"Getting ready for the parade," I said.
"Payback?" the Cat asked.
"That's right. No one changes liquor to piss in my friend's club," Rodrick said.
The Cats looked at one another, nodded and the big one spoke into his wrist. (Ooooh! Why must they all tease me so?!?) "Yes sir. We understand. Right away," he said. Then he addressed us, "Unfortunately, this looks like it's verging on a public nuisance. You're going to have to come with us."
"Are you going to use the sirens?" I asked
"Can I surf on the roof of the car?" Rodrick asked.
"No sirens?" I asked. "Could we hang our heads out the window and go 'Woo - Woo'?"
They ignored that and helped us to our feet. We were each walked to a separate car, "Do either of you have any weapons?"
They opened the trunks and pulled out dufflebags, "Place all your weapons in the bag - you'll be given a receipt."
We did as we were told and then driven to the Hall of Justice at the Las Vegas Hilton. There were flashing lights but no sirens and they wouldn't even let us roll the windows down. Party-poopers. At the Hilton, we were photographed (how exciting!) and fingerprinted.
Rodrick asked, "What are we being charged with?"
"Conspiracy to cause a public nuisance - or something like that - they haven't finished writing the law yet," we were told.
"They haven't finished they're writing it just for little ol' us? Touch us!" I said.
Then we were led down separate hallways and thrown into drunk tanks.
I was indignant!
"I am not drunk!" I told them. "I demand a Breathalyzer! I demand to breathe on someone in authority!"
They didn't seem to care. I considered sending a message to Leo or Olivia, but decided why bother? This was kind of fun. We sat in the drunk tanks until everyone was rounded up for morning court, which was presided over by a spotted jaguar wearing a peruke and black robes.
Now that's funny, right? Not nearly as funny as his horrendous British accent!
"Very well, Mr. Prosecutor," he said, "who is the first case?"
"If it may please your honor "
The judge interrupted him, "Nevermind." He picked up a file, "What is this one doing in my court? Mr. Prosecutor what is the People versus Jackie Joclyn case #24976?"
Rodrick and I were waved forward.
"Conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, your honor."
"Have they made up another new one?"
"Yes, your honor, it was written up this morning after these two were brought in."
"Well, hold them over for the Great One to deal with. Next case!"
The bailiff showed us out and I skipped after him.
"Stop that! This is a court of law!" the judge bellowed at me. "This is a serious place!"
"Not with that accent," Rodrick said. "Stop talking thru your nose. If you do, you might be pretty cool."
The bailiff almost laughed.
The judge slammed his gavel; "You are in contempt! Take them to his Greatness! But first, you - bailiff - kick that man in his testicles!"
Rodrick stood at attention, "Go ahead, give me your best shot." The bailiff looked at him like he was crazy and let it fly.
Clang! His foot hit Rodrick's cup dead on.
He managed to lead us, limping badly, out of the courtroom. Once the door was closed I asked him, "Can I help you with that?"
"Could you? Would you?"
So I healed his foot. He thanked me and Rodrick asked, "What's with that guy?"
"Too much BBC. No one ever told him that Monty Python and Fawlty Towers weren't real."
Now that he could walk again, he led us to the courtroom where Las Vegas Hilton himself was hearing cases. We took seats in the back and listened to a man appealing his death sentence.
"It's just too horrible," he said.
Hilton said, "You cannibalized portions of your own wife!"
"And that will haunt me for the rest of my life."
"You're claiming mitigating circumstances?"
"Oh yes sir. My wife was a real bitch."
Hilton said, "I sentence you to be tested by the Flames of Truth."
The man was brought forward and tied to a stake over a grate in the floor. Hilton said, "Rabbi Lefkowitz, please question the man."
A small elderly man, dressed entirely in black, stood and addressed the prisoner, "This would be a good time to say anything that you might want to say." The prisoner shook his head and the Rabbi scooped something that looked like blue flames out of a small box and touched them to the prisoner's forehead.
The flames clung to the skin and began to spread, first devouring the skin and then the bones. There was a lot of screaming - from the victim and from the other people in the courtroom. When there was nothing left, the Rabbi scooped up the flames and returned them to their box.
Hilton calmly said, "Guilty as charged. Sentence carried out. Next case."
That next case was two kids, maybe fifteen or sixteen years old, charged with breaking and entering. Hilton said, "You claim to have had good reason for doing what you did?"
The girl nodded, "Yes sir, may we approach?"
She got walked to the bench and he leaned closer as she began to whisper. She finished and he sat back almost smiling, "Next time - plan ahead. Damages only. Next case."
Rodrick laughed at that and Hilton looked to see who it was, spotted us, picked up our file and flipped it open, "I see Lord Venetian has sent me another new law to evaluate."
We stood before him.
"What were you attempting to do?" he asked.
"We were trying out a gopher catching/throwing device," Rodrick said.
Hilton glared and said, "Don't make me get the Flames."
"We've got something we need to do " Rodrick started to say.
Hilton interrupted, "Wait! Don't say a thing." He had the court reporter give us each a notepad. "You sir - please write down your intended target. And you ma'am, the reason, please."
We did as he instructed and handed the pads to him.
As he handed his over Rodrick asked, "May I ask a question, sir?"
"How can we be charged with a law that didn't even exist until after we were arrested?"
"We're still working some bugs out of the legal system," Hilton said with a small smile. He read what we'd given him and said, "I find you both guilty as charged of conspiracy to commit assault and battery. And you are hereby enjoined from taking part in any further activities. If you should choose to ignore the enjoinment you will be fined one chip each, per offense."
I sniffed and managed to squeeze out a few tears (as well as a wink for Hilton). Rodrick stepped forward and placed a stack of chips on the bench in front of Hilton.
Hilton growled at him, "Pay the cashier."
Rodrick took the chips back and as the bailiff moved to escort us out, I curtsied to Hilton and Rodrick bowed. Hilton rolled his eyes and shook his head. We stopped at the cashier, paid our fines (in advance) received copies of our enjoinments and were told to have a nice day.
Rodrick decided to go check on the truck and then head back to the Aladdin. As he was removing the yellow crime scene tape Olivia's limo pulled up and she and Leo got out.
"Did you guys have fun?" Olivia asked
"Yeah! How did you know?" I said.
"Crystal ball - we saw it all and Leo got it on video," Olivia said.
"Good morning, Leo," I said but he stomped right past me and on to where Rodrick was.
"You! What were you doing getting my fiancée' arrested?" he demanded.
"Hey! She didn't have to come with me - she said she wanted to," Rodrick said.
"I was there to keep him out of trouble," I explained.
"Good job with that," Olivia said.
"Why thank you."
But Leo wasn't finished; "You took her to "
Olivia interrupted him, "Are you demeaning her abilities?"
"No. But he shouldn't have "
"I got arrested!" I said in my cheeriest voice, "My first time!"
"It was not appropriate," Leo said.
"It was fun! I have an enjoinment! So does Rodrick - they're a matched set."
"As long as that's all you two have a matched set of," he grumbled.
"Well you should know since you were spying on us," I grumbled back.
Rodrick changed the subject and asked Olivia if she could 'do something' to hide the truck.
"Sure!" she did something and it vanished. It was cool.
But Leo still wasn't finished, "I was worried when you didn't come home and Olivia helped me make sure you were okay. I've seen too many 'women behind bars' movies."
"See now - that idea would excite your sister."
"Don't say stuff like that," he said with a shudder.
Then Allison showed up and stepped in between Rodrick and I., "Stay away from my man, mrow," she said with a smile and a wink.
So I hissed back at her and bared my claws, "You can take him home and scrub the paint off of him."
"Why thank you."
"My pleasure," I told her.
Leo asked, "Are you two finished?"
"Uh - huh. I'm hungry - the didn't feed us in the slammer."
Leo glared at me and Olivia suggested breakfast at New Babylon, "I have some work to do there and I've got some go-juice for us."
When we got there the cleanup crew was working and there were some other breakfast customers, too. All of them were women, apparently on their way to work on various city crews, all looking for a little quiet time.
Olivia said, "While you two were out playing last night, I was busy working."
"We were working!" I objected.
"Right. Anyway - I was trying to find out who's sabotaging my club."
She'd been busy scrying (and not just Rodrick and I). First she located the two gay men. They were in the part of Vegas that's being demolished to build the defensive wall. They were pacing and checking their watches.
Eventually an old UPS delivery truck drove up. It stopped and the two men rushed to meet it. A woman got out of the truck wearing a long cloak with a hood hiding her face.
"Where were you?" one of the men asked, "We had an appointment."
"There were - complications," the woman said. "I need 10,000 more to cover some bribes I had to make."
The emptied their pockets and counted it, "4,500 is all we have."
She said, "Then you'll have to come back with the rest."
One of the men snapped, "That's it!" and he started to pull a gun.
The women threw back her hood and the man froze. Actually he turned to stone - she was a Medusa. She told the other man, "Leave the money and run."
Once he was gone, the woman got completely out of the truck - all forty-some feet of her. She wrapped her tail around the man she'd turned to stone and crushed him. She picked up the money and slithered back to the van.
Another woman inside the van said, "Well?"
"All they had was another 4,500."
"You shouldn't play these games," the second woman said.
"Why not? Who's he going to tell?"
"One more run and then we're finished."
"We're finished when I say we're finished," the Medusa snapped.
Olivia said, "I tried to see what was in the back of the truck but all I could see was more of the snake body. They drove up to the Paris where two more Humans (a man and a woman, this time) were waiting."
The Medusa gave them the same story she's told the men about needing more money to pay bribes. The man said, "I thought as much." He snapped his fingers and floodlights flared up revealing a mercenary company with their weapons trained on Medusa and the truck.
She cleared her throat and said, "Correction - I have a 4,500 credit for you and your package is ready."
From the back of the truck, Medusa produced a stone figure of an infant. It had been in a container of some sort - and there were more, similar containers in the truck. She held it up in front of her face and it was transformed back to Human form and began to cry. The woman took the baby and moved back behind the mercenaries. The man said to Medusa, "Now get out of here before I have them frag your ass."
The Medusa worked herself back into the truck and told the other woman, "Drive, drive, drive!"
But the woman didn't drive - she got out of the van and started to walk away.
"Once she was in the light I could see that she was a Lamia," Olivia said.
"A what?" Leo and I asked.
"Half woman - half lion."
She turned back to the Medusa and said, "That's it! I have had enough. I'm out of here." And off she stomped.
Meanwhile the man paid the mercenaries and gave them a 4,500 chip bonus, then he took his wife and the baby and left. The Medusa had gone and Olivia couldn't follow her in the crystal ball so she decided to go talk to the Lamia. She teleported to where she was walking down the strip. The Lamia stopped and looked at her.
"Can I talk to you?" Olivia asked.
"It's a free country, sort of."
"I was wondering what you were selling to those two gay men. I have no problem with you doing business, but they were in my place."
"Ah, fuck! I told her we should have picked a different place to meet. My ex-partner is a fucking bitch and thought it would be funny to make two gay men wait for us in a lesbian bar. She said that if they wanted a baby bad enough, they'd do it."
Olivia told her that if she was looking for work now she could find something for her.
"Seems like I already did some work for you," Lamia said.
"Indeed you did," Olivia said and gave her some money for the information.
The L amia took it with a nod, "Maybe I'll see you around town." And she strolled off down the strip.
"So I came back here," Olivia said, "to try and find the other woman - the one you thought was a distraction."
"I used the crystal ball again and it found her - a gnome. A male gnome, sound asleep in a 'hotel' made from a refrigerator box stacked on other boxes, all of them filled with gnomes."
Figuring that couldn't be right, she tried again and was shown the same thing.
"That seems like an odd illusion for a Gnome - a big fat woman," I said.
Then Olivia tried to find the mousy woman who'd been sitting at the bar all alone. But she found nothing. She tried again - using some stronger magic and she could feel Power building up inside the ball - like a backlash.
"I ended the spell just in time - but enough of the Power came thru the crystal to set off the fire alarms. That roused security, and Leo. He pounded on my door wanting to know if you were with me."
She'd told him that I had gone to Fremont with Rodrick. "Isn't she back yet?"
"Do you want me to look for her?" Olivia asked.
"Yes. Will I be able to see her in that ball?"
"If I find her, yes."
"Oh," he said and turned his back to it, "Just tell me what she's doing, I don't want to see."
She found us while Rodrick was finishing the slingshot.
"It was really too funny," she said, "Leo was refusing to look for fear of what he might see you doing - so all he heard was what you two were saying."
What we were saying was, "I never knew rubber would stretch that far," I said to Rodrick..
"Well it has to now, doesn't it?"
"You learned this in the navy?"
Rodrick said, "Let me show you something else I learned."
"Here - fill this."
"Is that all it'll take?"
"Isn't it big enough?" I asked.
"No - it'll get bigger - watch."
"Stop! Back! Now a little left."
"I know where it's going," Rodrick said.
Olivia told me that Leo finally broke down and said, "Oh my God! What are they doing?"
"They're building something," Olivia said.
So Leo got the nerve to look at the crystal - then he got a video camera and started taping everything. When they saw we were going back to the truck they called Allison and left to meet us.
Leo was still giving Rodrick the evil eye (which Rodrick was ignoring) when New Babylon's manager showed up. Olivia told him to empty all the bottles and clean them.
"Then group them by type. What are the six best sellers?"
He told her and after breakfast she created tubs full of water and then she changed the water to those six types of alcohol. The manager was impressed; "Can you do that all the time?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
He suggested that they lower their drink prices, "We can undermine the new place before it even opens."
Olivia liked the idea and approved it. She rejoined us as I was asking Rodrick, "Was your drunk tank smelly? Mine was really smelly. I never thought jail would be so smelly."
Allison said, "Now that you mention it "
"Yeah, you two stink," Olivia said. So she used some Magic to un-stink us.
"Thank you," Leo and Allison said.
With breakfast done we headed back to the Aladdin. Allison took Rodrick off to scrub him clean and Leo told Rodrick, "I'm still not talking to you."
Olivia said, "Leo - take Jazz and clean her up, then come to my office - I'm going to try to find that gnome again."
While Leo was scrubbing paint off of me I apologized for not letting him know where we were, "But we were having fun. If I had to - I could have gotten us both out of there, you know. But it was all so silly and we got carried away. I should have let you know, though, I'm sorry. Don't be mad at Rodrick - none of it was his fault. Now, let's go see what your sister's up to."
She had found the gnome. He and some others were at a company soup kitchen. Looking around the area we saw a sign for ACME Construction. The sign had some odd brackets around it that looked familiar to Olivia, "Does that mean anything to anyone else?"
Well, it was really bothering Olivia so I told her, "Call Phillips, he'll know what it is."
He answered the phone and said, "This is getting to be a habit."
"At least I didn't wake you this time."
"And I thank you," he said.
"I just needed to ask if you could help with something." She told him about the sign looking so familiar to her.
"ACME was hired by the city to work on the defensive wall," Phillips said. "Those brackets around the name indicate that the company is a subsidiary of the Ka Corporation. You probably saw the markings on their planes."
Olivia said, "And on Slash's business cards - thank you Phillips."
"Is there anything else?"
I said, "Did you hear? Rodrick and I got arrested!"
Phillips said, "I've not seen anything on the news. Are you sure?"
"Yep! I was there!"
"And Lucifer made up a new law, just for them. They were even given an enjoinment," Olivia added.
"I suggest that they follow the letter of the law," Phillips warned.
"We are," I said, "trust us."
I'm pretty sure I could hear his eyes rolling around in his head, "Goodbye ladies."
Rodrick and Allison joined us and talk turned back to figuring out who was behind our recent troubles. Olivia said, "''Follow the money' huh? Easier said than done."
Rodrick said, "Maybe someone made a large contribution to the Temple of Aphrodite. Which Overlord is in charge of money?"
Allison said, "No one. No one ever thought of it. Submit an idea for the creation of a new domain, then it'll be up to Lord Hard Rock to approve. Then beat someone up for a hotel. You'll also have to convince Lord Mandalay that the domain won't infringe on his domain of Trade.
She also suggested that he speak to Binion, "She's one of those who wrote the Law and as Alpha female she makes a lot of policy decisions. Would you like me to call for an appointment?" She called and Rodrick was granted an audience to meet with Binion at noon at the Stratosphere, "You're expected to go alone except for a professional, legal advisor."
"Will you go with me, Allison?" Rodrick asked.
"You know more about all of this than anyone."
Allison said, "I know what I know because when the previous Lord Excalibur would parade us around to impress the other Cats I paid attention. To everything."
"Will you help me?" he asked again.
So Rodrick put on his best (and only) suit and his very best navy manners and went with Allison to the Stratosphere. Olivia, Leo and I killed time until they came back and it seemed like they were gone for hours!
"Well? What happened?" we demanded when they returned.
Rodrick told us how they were met in the lobby - but not by Phillips - by a Cat. A white tigress, to be exact.
"We're here to see her Magnificence," Rodrick said.
"You have been granted an audience and you have come alone?" the tigress asked.
"Not quite, this is my legal advisor."
"Very well you may both come this way." She led them to an entrance different than the one Phillips always uses. Inside a room they were both subjected to hand prints and retinal scans before going any further.
A door opened and Rodrick was taken to one room and Allison to another. In his room, Rodrick was greeted by a dozen more Cats, all female, all heavily armed and each one was wearing custom-made armor. There was a sign in the room, "Do nothing - Say nothing - Ask nothing - And you will leave here alive".
Rodrick was told to check all his weapons and they would be returned to him as he left. He emptied his pockets of all their contents; a pen and the cardkey for his room at the Aladdin. Then the Cats went thru his hair and even inspected his mouth!
But it gets better! In the next room there was a Human doctor who completely searched Rodrick. And I mean completely! When the doctor declared him 'clean', Rodrick was shown to the next room where he was reunited with Allison (who'd gone thru the same treatment). They were greeted by an elderly human woman with numbers tattooed on her arm, "What you see here you can never tell. Do you agree?"
Rodrick and Allison agreed and the woman 'did' something and nodded to the tigress who escorted them to where Binion was waiting.
She looked them over, "What do you want?"
Rodrick bowed and said, "Good day, you Magnifi "
She waved a hand, "Skip it."
So Rodrick cut directly to the chase, "I was talking to some friends earlier today and I asked about the Banking domain. I was told that there is no such thing, so I am here to petition for a new domain."
"Money lending?" Binion asked.
"That and other services - holding money for people, paying interest, maybe even selling stocks - helping people prepare for retirement," Rodrick said.
Binion was quiet for a time, and finally said, "Interesting." She pushed a button on her desk and a wall opened up revealing a room full of Cats. All females again and all different breeds. They entered the room and took seats.
Binion waited until they were all settled and said, "Banking - investments. Could be useful. Who do you propose to challenge for a hotel?"
"I like the Paris," Rodrick admitted.
Another Cat said, "Paris has no mate."
Binion nodded, "You may challenge him. We will give you the specifications for the domain within a week. Have you considered that, traditionally, banks control currency?"
A lynx spoke up, "A centralized currency?"
Binion smiled, "That would solve the problem of ." And she stopped as if she knew she'd almost said too much. "Your request is approved. We will inform Hard Rock of it."
The tigress escorted Rodrick and Allison back out, "When you walk thru the front door, you will not be able to speak of this. This does not apply to your mate - we have found that leads to insanity, so you will be able to tell only those that you can completely trust."
Rodrick thanked her and helped a shaky Allison to the car.
She told us, "Rodrick was so calm!"
Rodrick shrugged, "Well all I could think was, 'Holy Crap!'."
I thought out loud, "That is so interesting - Olivia, we have got to get back on Binion's good side. Maybe we should send her a gift. And a note telling her that her Mage was selling information to the previous Lord Luxor. Does Mirage have a mate?"
Then I got back to the original subject - Rodrick. I told him that he needs to find himself a Ferengi. Or more than one.
Rodrick shook his head; "The first thing I need to do is talk to Alfred about Allison."
So Olivia called Alfred and invited him over for drinks. When he was settled, Rodrick informed him of his intention to 'steal' Allison.
Alfred just shrugged, "I thought as much and I've sent out headhunters, looking for a replacement. But it'll be hard to replace her."
"Are we still good?" Rodrick asked, "Still buddies?"
Alfred said, "I'll miss her - she's been with me since the beginning - but good luck, with everything."
He laughed a little, "Banking. I wonder why no one ever thought of it before. You know - you should find yourself a Mage to make one of those boxes of Holding - a really big one!"
Rodrick said, "Hmm, combine that with the portable hole we got our hands on "
When we were sure that Rodrick and Alfred were good, Olivia returned to her crystal ball and scryed the Medusa again.
This time she was out at Valley of Fire State Park. She had several stone 'chunks' of a person laid out as well as dishes and silverware, Thankfully - all the chunks were too large to have come from children. She was basking in the sun.
I said, "I bet Binion wouldn't like her selling children."
Alfred offered to give her a call since she'll speak to him. "Lady Binion - I have a peace offering from Lord Aladdin in hopes that you will forgive her. Okay I understand. There is a Medusa in town and she's selling children. She's out at the Valley of Fire. And she has some more information for you, more personal information. Luxor had your mage on his payroll."
"The old one!" I said.
Alfred quickly said, "The previous Lord Luxor, and when you were pursuing yes of course you remember." He held the phone out to Olivia, "She wants to talk to you."
"Yes?" Olivia asked.
Binion told her, "Tell me exactly what Luxor told you."
"He said that he paid your mage very well to keep him informed of your movements."
"Very well," Binion said, "I forgive you - but I will not forget."
Olivia told her about the UPS truck and the babies in the back, "So don't damage the truck."
Binion hung up and we went back to watching the Medusa. She was still sunning herself and was applying some sunscreen when there was a thunderclap followed by a large cloud of blue smoke. The smoke cleared, revealing forty or so female Cats. All were in some kind of really cool combat armor and carrying these guns that looked like gatling phaser rifles or something - only they were obviously real weapons - and each one was wearing a face-shield to protect them from the Medusa's gaze.
Binion stepped forward, backhanded the Medusa and sneered, "We're going to look in the back of your truck and you are going to cooperate."
"And you'll let me live?" Medusa asked.
All Binion said was, "You will cooperate."
While most of the Cats kept the Medusa covered, a few others pulled more than three dozen babies - all stone and packed in foam - from the truck. Each one was held in front of the Medusa and transformed back to their true forms.
There were babies of all the Humanoid races except for Orcs, but most were Gold Elves and Caucasian Humans. When they were all safe, Binion put the whammy on Medusa and questioned her until her mind was mush. Once she was done, Binion stepped back and nodded to the other Cats. As one, they opened fire and pretty much shredded the Medusa. And the rocks behind her. And everything behind them for a good 150-200 yards. Everything was just blown into powder. The Medusa wasn't even a smear on the ground.
When it was all over each baby was taken up by a Cat and once again, as one - they vanished.
Leo let out a whistle, "Where do they get those toys?"
"How did they get there?" I wanted to know. "Was it forty individual teleport spells or do they have someone, somewhere who can teleport forty people at once?" Both ideas were pretty disturbing.
Olivia said, "Each one of them had a teleportation ring. Like mine."
Rodrick excused himself and headed over to the Bellagio to ask Jim for some help researching the current owner of the Paris hotel. He found out that the current owner is a white tiger, an older gent who keeps a harem of lower ranking Cats. He purposely chose a hotel with no domain attached because he didn't want to deal with the politics. He enjoys living in luxury with his harem and simply minding his own business.
Rodrick was feeling a little guilty about challenging him so I told him, "Go talk to him, first."
"Maybe I can convince him to make it look like a fight, so he doesn't get hurt," Rodrick said.
Allison told him, "A fight isn't necessary. Go talk to him. He can retire and give the hotel to anyone he chooses."
Rodrick gave her a kiss, "That's why I'm stealing you away from Alfred!"
Alfred again offered to make the initial call, "Thank you for taking my call, Lord Paris. One of my associates would like to speak to you. Really? Okay, we'll see you directly."
He hung up and said to us, "He sounded like he knows what this is about, crafty old guy. He said that he's been expecting something like this."
Rodrick and Allison left for the Paris and Olivia turned the focus of the crystal ball on them so we could watch. We saw them walking thru the casino which was looking a little shabby, it could use some repairs, but with no domain to bring in money .
An older gentlemen met them, a Human, who is Paris' butler. Someone turned on the power for the elevators and up they went.
On the top floor they were introduced to Lord Paris; an older Cat, his coat getting a little patchy in places, wearing clothes that had seen better days. He asked them if they would like a glass of water.
"No thank you, sir," Rodrick said.
"What do you want with me?"
Rodrick said, "I spoke to Lady Binion earlier, expressing an interest in creating a new domain."
"And she's advising you? You have an interest in this hotel, do you?"
"I do, sir."
Paris snorted, "Let me guess. That gaggle of females of hers said that since I don't have a mate and can't contribute to the gene pool I'm dispensable, right?"
"Not in so many words, no," Rodrick said.
"Why not take the New York, New York?"
"I like the Paris and I would love to have your advice," Rodrick told him. "We could make this hotel great again. You could stay, in your home here, with your harem."
That made his ears perk up, "Keep my girls?"
His butler said, "You wouldn't have to sign forms or listen to reports anymore, my Lord."
Paris paused for only a moment; "Put it on paper. I want to keep my girls, my pool and my daily massages. And TV - this place needs cable." He told his butler to see to the details and he left.
Rodrick told the butler, "I will provide a domain, but it might be awhile before it brings in any money."
"I hope you know what you're doing," the butler said, "A week doesn't go by that some young buck doesn't come in here, challenging the Lord. Someday he's going to lose."
"The deal will be done before the end of the day," Rodrick reassured him.
"I want to see it - iron clad - in writing. Guarantee him his easy life, for life."
Rodrick promised the man that he would do just that and he and Allison headed for their next stop: the Hard Rock.
Meanwhile, Karyn had found out that Mirage does indeed have a mate but she is currently 'in seclusion'. So no help there. As for finding a Ferengi? None left in Vegas unemployed; we'll have to look elsewhere. That was when Olivia decided to go to the Hard Rock to do some research on the Temple of Aphrodite and I decided to go with her.
At the Hard Rock, one of Yasai's people wrote up the contract for Paris and offered some advice regarding the new domain - that he should charge a fee, similar to that charged to open a casino (one million chips plus a percentage to the Overlord in charge of gambling) to anyone who wants to open a bank and maybe a lesser fee if someone want to become a moneylender. "As the Overlord, it will be up to you to determine an acceptable percentage charged on loans."
Yasai burst in on them then. "You're creating a fucking domain? I had to kill someone for mine and you just walk in and say, 'Hey! I have an idea'?" He was waving some papers around wildly. "Do you know what this is?"
"An order?" Rodrick asked.
"From Caesar! I'm supposed to make these decisions but I get this and he told me that this makes you a 'major player'!"
"What?!?" Olivia demanded and then she pouted - she's not a major player.
"Don't pout," I told her, "it's really not becoming of an Overlord."
"Olivia. Great. What can I do for you?" Yasai asked.
"Information. I want to know all holdings of the Temple of Aphrodite and then I want to know who owns a bar called FoxTrot."
We found that the Temple had indeed been endowed by Mirage and that they were the registered owners of FoxTrot. They also own an art gallery that sells art salvaged from the Wastelands and are negotiating with several of the casinos that offer sexual services to sponsor a Courtesan's Guild. Mirage also gifted them by paying their Temple fees and their initial prostitution license.
"Everything is completely legal," Maga told us.
"Who does Mirage do business with?
"The usuals. He does have a grandfathered arrangement with Bellagio regarding porno films - Mirage provides the talent in return for a discount on production fees. He also tried, unsuccessfully; to get tax breaks from the other Overlords to create a school of sexual services for both men and women in the business. The request was denied - repeatedly."
Other than the license he granted to someone from Reno to own a brothel (they paid in advance for two hundred prostitution licenses!) there was no connection between Mirage and Reno. Then we asked about the Reno group itself.
They get a large number of working women at a hotel to resign and then transfer their licenses to the Mirage. One hotel after another have lost their best talent and Mirage is making money on all of it and is a big backer of the Prostitute's Union; in fact that's the reason given for the transfer of license - that the girls are seeking the protection of collective bargaining.
More than a few small drug dealers have moved underneath the umbrella of the Reno group and they've been busy buying several small 'family' bars in Vegas. Just a few days ago they purchased a topless joint (the Eager Beaver - oh please!) and they're using it for their headquarters here. And they're trying to get a brothel license for the place.
All of this is done under the name 'Blue Sky Investments' and all of the paperwork has been signed by our good friend Michael. Except for the attempt to unionize the prostitutes - there is no apparent connection between Reno and the Temple of Aphrodite.
So, with at least a little information and the Paris contract for Rodrick, we returned to the Aladdin. Rodrick had the contract sent to Lord Paris for his signature and it was returned almost immediately.
Rodrick looked at it and laughed, "I know exactly who to hire for security.'
"My old mercenary company. I'll have to send them a message."
"I met a couple of them, I can send one for you," I offered. "But how to get them here quickly?"
Olivia suggested that she could Teleport herself and Rodrick up to Sacramento and since the Altoids tin is so freaking big, all the men and all their gear should fit, no problem.
So Rodrick wrote a message for me to send: "Looking for a regular gig? I've got one for you. Sell all vehicles - gather all men and all other gear and I'll meet you at the mercenary hiring hall."
At about 11:00 pm Olivia received her now nightly call from the manager at New Babylon, "We have a prisoner, this time," he said.
We all went and found the police and a street judge already there. Olivia was mad about that and the manager told her, "A couple of Venetian's men were in here on a routine visit when it happened - I had no choice but to call the authorities."
Olivia relented and asked, "What happened this time?" The manager pointed to a woman (a beautiful blonde and a Priestess of Aphrodite) who was handcuffed and whose mouth was covered with duct tape.
We went to his office to watch the security tapes. We saw a black cat slip thru the front door - making the Fairie Fire light up. The employees tried to catch it but it disappeared into a back room.
There were some women in the back who saw it change into a woman - the blonde. The club's security people tackled her as she was trying to cast some sort of spell of the room, "Calling afflictions upon these people!" Or something like that.
Olivia ripped the tape of the woman's face. "Well?" she demanded.
The woman shrugged, "It was my duty to chastise the inequities."
"Your duty? To break into my club and attack my customers?"
The judge said, "Ahem? Do you mind if I ask the questions here? Your interests will be protected, I assure you." She turned to the blonde and said, "What she said."
The priestess said, "If someone came in here and became infected with a disease - they might change their ways."
"This was the third attack," Olivia said, "what of the other two?"
She had nothing to say.
The judge asked, "Well? What say you? Are you part of a conspiracy?"
"I know nothing about that, I took the cleansing of this den of iniquity as my mission."
The judge shook her head and said, "I find you guilty of attempted assault and sentence you to five years hard labor on the reconstruction crews. And furthermore, you are forbidden to work with any sort of magic or to preach your religion."
"You can't do that!" the priestess screeched.
"Why, yes I can," said the judge. She pointed a wand at the priestess and zapped her. "Try it."
The priestess tried to say something and instead screamed in pain and then vomited.
The judge turned to the gathered crowd, "Is everyone satisfied?"
One of the women who'd been in the back room was not happy with the sentence and the judge awarded her all of the Priestess' property. The excitement died and business got back to normal at the club so we all went home.