I can't believe it's been two years since everything Changed.
I still expect to wake up and find everything the way it used to be. But today I woke up to find my Leo waiting with the gown that I was supposed to wear while riding a dragon in a parade down the Vegas Strip. At least it was a nice gown. All my fears were for naught - it was really quite impressive looking (and he looked so proud of himself!). We dressed and went to breakfast.
Olivia had asked for a couple of volunteers from her harem to test a spell that she'd developed to use on the Priestesses of Aphrodite today. She set the sphere of the spell in one area and had the girls walk thru it. Then a few minutes later she triggered the final piece and all their hair fell out!
"Nice. What do you call that? The Epilady?" Karyn joked.
Rodrick piped in with, "Nah - Nair Ball."
Olivia asked the girls if they'd felt anything.
"Just when it fell out - it was tingly."
So with everything ready we left for the staging area. Rodrick went to where we'd left the truck and I joined Mitzi who was wearing her tiara and looking very happy with it all. I spotted where the Temple of Aphrodite was gathering. There was one woman - drop dead gorgeous - with long curly blonde hair. She was sitting on a chair covered with peacock feathers on a litter carried by four big beefcakes. Olivia asked me, "Look at her. Dye that hair brown, straighten it and put glasses on her - could that be the mousy woman from New Babylon?"
"I'd say so," I told her.
The organizers were sending people out, starting with an actual marching band. Ellistrae had no float and Slash was out front, leading the dancers, she gave Olivia a big wink and a grin. The War Temples had marchers performing a martial arts demonstration. Then there was the largest group, four hundred people in amazing Carnival costumes representing the Rio hotel.
An organizer was yelling, "Aphrodite! Three minutes!"
The Priestess in the peacock chair stood up and we saw that it wasn't a chair - it was her costume! Her group gathered together and I saw Olivia casting the first part of her spell. Then, Rodrick let the paint bombs fly!
His aim was perfect. Not one person outside the Aphrodite group got hit but wow - did the Temple members get it! The Priestess in the peacock costume was hit several times and had several different colors in her hair, and feathers. She was outraged and was screaming at everyone in the area.
The organizer told them. "It's time! Move it!"
"We can't go out like this!" the Priestess yelled back at him.
"Then move out of the way so the next group can," she was told.
An Orc woman from the Ka group approached them, looked them over and shook her head. Then she cast some sort of magic and the paint vanished. Sort of.
"It will be invisible for thirty minutes, maybe longer," the Orc said. "I'll send my bill to the Temple."
Now, you couldn't see the paint, but it was still there, so everyone's hair and costumes were all clumpy and matted. They all adjusted as best they could and let the organizers lead them out, right thru the sphere of Magic Olivia had placed and once they were all thru, Olivia dispersed it. After the Temple of Aphrodite, Ka marched out. I mean they marched. They were all in matching suits and they had some Elven kids handing out Ka dollars to the crowd.
Then it was mine and Mitzi's turn. Debbie walked alongside of Mitzi, keeping her calm and behind us there were some women wearing white satin togas tossing flowers to the crowd. Then there were the men in medieval armor performing drill team maneuvers with lances. There was a lot of cheering - the people just loved Mitzi!
Behind us was Aladdin's float. Lots of belly-dancing music and Olivia's girls throwing trinkets and chips to the crowd. Alfred and Jim (with Maisara) followed them. They were wearing very nice suits and waved to the people as they walked along the route. The finale of the parade was Caesar. In a Santa suit. It seems no one had the nerve to tell him not too. He had more Elven kids throwing out small gifts to the crowd.
Very near the end of the parade route, there was a reviewing stand with the major Overlords who chose not to participate in the parade and some other city dignitaries (including Walter - looking very snazzy in his dress whites) acting as judges. When a group reached the stand, they would either stop to acknowledge the dignitaries or perform for them. The Temple of Aphrodite had just started their performance and the Priestess with the feathers was in mid-twirl when all of her hair (and all her costumes' feathers) fell right out.
Just like all the other girls. Even the Priestess' beefcake attendants were bald as cueballs. There was a moment when nothing really happened then there was a collective gasp that was followed by the screams of the Priestess. The parade organizers quickly shooed them all on. Mitzi picked up a large clump of matted hair and yelled, "Hey! You forgot this!"
Debbie very calmly said, "Put it down, dear."
Around the corner from the reviewing stand was the end of the parade and just as I got there, the paint reappeared. The Priestess was screaming and accusing Ka of being behind it all - and Jim's news crew was catching it all!
The Orc woman who'd helped them earlier said, "How dare you accuse us? We'll sue!"
"Las Vegas doesn't allow that!" the Priestess snapped back.
"But we demand satisfactions."
Lucifer appeared then, stepped between them and said, "My people have investigated this and found no trace of hostile magic at the scene. The City's best defensive mage verified that. This is all a tragic accident. If anyone has any information, they should come forward with it."
When no one did so, Lucifer told everyone to clear the area.
At the Aladdin a street judge showed up with a squad of security men. They had an arrest warrant for Rodrick, "You did willfully attack representatives of the Temple of Aphrodite. But, having previously pled guilty and having paid your fine, in advance, if you will come with me - you need to sign a confession and collect your refund. You overpaid."
So Olivia, Leo, Allison and I went with him to the Las Vegas Hilton and when we got there the Priestess of Aphrodite was already there. She was raising such a ruckus! Yelling at policemen, security people, anyone she saw! Then she spotted us. She immediately turned her wrath on Rodrick and Olivia. Then she went too far and started making threats.
"Isn't threatening an Overlord a crime?" I asked. "I wonder what threatening two Overlords would be considered."
"Two?" she snapped.
"Lord Paris, may I present the Priestess of Aphrodite?" I said.
Rodrick bowed to her and Olivia said, "I am terribly upset by her threats."
The security officer on the scene said, "It was in the heat of the moment, she is obviously distraught."
"I want her questioned under a truth spell," Olivia demanded. "I have a video tape with her on it. She was inside my club when there was an attack made. My colleague here verified that it was done by a Priestess of Aphrodite and I am sure this is the one."
The Priestess said, "Yeah, I did that."
A street judge, who'd been watching it all said, "I sentence you to forty lashes and you will pay compensation for damages done."
Olivia asked, "What about the bombing?"
"I had nothing to do with that."
The judge gestured for the woman to be taken away for the lashing.
"You can stop this!" the Priestess yelled to Olivia.
"Did anyone encourage you to attack my club?" Olivia asked her.
The judge signaled for her escort to pause.
"Yes. There were those two men who were always around, talking about the unions," she said, "From Reno."
"Michael and Vincent?" we asked.
Olivia asked the judge, "Is that enough to have them arrested?"
"It is. I'll see that the warrants are issued."
Then Olivia tried to get the lashings commuted but the judge would have none of that, "Two Overlords were threatened and the property of one attacked - that simply cannot be allowed."
The lashing began and the Priestess stayed on her feet until the seventh lash.
After the tenth lash, we all felt a tremendous amount of Power leave her.
By the last lash, the power was entirely gone and she was no longer a priestess. Aphrodite had deserted her, not even leaving her enough power to heal herself. We watched as she was taken for medical treatment and Rodrick said, "She's no longer beautiful - Aphrodite has no use for her now."
We returned home and found that Jim had sent copies of the tapes of the paint attack, the hair falling out and the paint reappearing. We watched them over and over while we enjoyed our boat drinks.
Thank goodness the official announcement of the new domain wasn't until noon today, which gave us all a chance to get some sleep. Eventually, though, we all got up, dressed in our best, and loaded into limousines to drive next door!
Jim's news crews were all over the place and the talking heads were discussing what the new domain would entail, why it would be different than the Trade domain and why had no one thought of it before. There was also a long line of people waiting to apply for loans.
Inside, Yasai's Ferengi conducted the establishment of Rodrick's domain with lots of forms to be signed by both Yasai and Rodrick. Then there were the public readings. First was the agreement with the outgoing Lord Paris, guaranteeing that he would have a place to live and receive a stipend for expenses. Then there was the reading of the legal definition of the new domain and the responsibilities it entailed. The last responsibility listed was the establishment of a standard currency. Last night Rodrick told us that the first coin minted is going to have Binion on it. Does he know the proper way to suck up, or what? When it was all done there was much applause and it was Rodrick's turn to address the crowd, "Paris, the bank for you. Party on!"
A man of few words, our Rodrick.
The security people from Lucifer (who are filling in until Rodrick's men get here) asked what to do with the people waiting to see about loans.
"Tell them to come back in a week, we're still working out the details," Rodrick told them.
As they were dispersing the crowd, a really long black limo pulled up with a whole retinue of cars following. A bunch of men in suits got out, all carrying briefcases and the spokesman announced, "We are here to apply for a license to make loans. Please tell the Overlord that we are here."
The guards turned to Rodrick, "Well?"
"Give me ten minutes." Then he turned and whispered to Allison, "Do I have an office?"
"You do - but let me set up a conference room."
She got together with the previous Lord's people and had one ready in no time.
"Jazz, would you join me?" he asked.
"Sure, I'm good at meetings."
She wanted to sit in to see if they were from Reno. They were.
The men were shown to a waiting room. And just before Allison was going to tell them that Rodrick was ready to see them, the walls began to shake and the room filled with blue smoke. There was a thunderclap and the smoke was replaced by a Human woman and a retinue of 20 Orcs in suits. The woman had dark hair and was wearing a gold, cobra-headed crown. And that was about all she was wearing, that and some gold dust.
One of the Orcs said, "We wish an appointment with the Overlord. Now."
Allison said, very calmly, "Your name?"
"And your business?"
"A license to transact loans," the Orc said.
Allison asked Rodrick if he wanted to see the new group first."
I whispered, "Make the Reno guys wait," and Olivia nodded her agreement.
"I liked the Magic show. Flashy cars can't compete with gold naked women," he told her, "Show them to the conference room."
The spokesman for the first group was indignant, "Hey! Smelly dudes! We were here first. Take a number."
Akasha flicked her eyes his way and a barrier of blades (facing in) instantly surrounded him. And neither Olivia nor I were able to feel her do a thing! When the blades had finished with the complainer, they reformed as a barrier between the two groups.
"I hope that doesn't leave a stain," Rodrick said.
Akasha glanced at the mess on the floor and again Olivia and I didn't feel a thing as she called a flame strike that targeted only the mess. When the flames cleared, the mess was gone and the carpet beneath it was pristine!
I mouthed to Rodrick, "Be polite!"
He bowed to her and said, "How can I help you today?"
The Orc who spoke before said, "The Ka Group wishes to open our own money lending business here in Las Vegas. We were advised that this opportunity was opening up and we want to be in on the ground floor."
Rodrick gestured for Akasha to precede him into the conference room, once everyone was inside, Allison closed the door and Luci's men took a post outside of it.
Rodrick said, "Ka? Aren't you known for slavery?"
"That is merely one amongst many businesses," the Orc demurred.
"How many licenses are you interested in?"
"One for the corporate entity and more if we decide to open branches."
Rodrick whispered to Allison, "Is there any difference between what we charge individuals and corporations?"
"That's your decision, "she told him, "Maybe you should have a breakdown by volume?"
He thought for a moment and asked, "If I grant the license, how do you plan on dealing with those individuals who can't repay?"
"We will act in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which we are based, California."
"But you'll be doing business here - in Las Vegas," Rodrick pointed out.
The Orc gestured towards Akasha; "She wants it to be in California."
"But you're in Vegas now," Rodrick insisted politely.
The Orc had just opened his mouth to say something else when Akasha glanced his way and his body sort of - erupted. I don't know how else to explain it - his 'body' stayed where it was but the bones all burst out to one side.
All in all, it was quite revolting.
Akasha looked at the Orc who'd been sitting next to the man she'd just filleted.
"She agrees to be bound by all the laws, rules and regulations of Las Vegas," he said in a rush. "And we will only need the one license. We will have people out in the field soliciting the loans but only one person will actually be approving and collecting on the loans."
Rodrick thought for a moment, made a decision and said, "Ten million to cover the corporate license. That includes the appraiser and the originator. And there will be a yearly fee of 10% of the profit made on all the loans."
All the Orcs looked to Akasha who just barely nodded her head in agreement.
"Done," the Orc said, "And we will agree to standard Las Vegas accounting standards."
A written agreement was drawn up and Akasha 'asked' for pen and signed it all.
When she was done, Rodrick thanked her and said, "When the funds are transferred, you will receive your license."
Then he signed the agreement and as he did the Orcs began to empty their briefcases. They had stacks of gold coins, gold ingots and luxury trade items.
"Allison, please ask Lord Mandalay to send an appraiser," Rodrick said.
The room filled with blue smoke and Akasha walked thru a portal within it. As she walked thru we were able to see a room with sandstone walls covered with hieroglyphs. And in the center of the room there was a large obsidian throne flanked by a pair of statues depicting Anubis. All of the Orcs but one followed her and vanished. The remaining Orc watched them all go and said, "I'll catch a cab."
Not too much later, the appraiser arrived from Mandalay and gave Rodrick a figure of ten million. Everyone agreed with it so the Orc signed off and left.
"First client taken care," Rodrick said. "Boat drinks?"
Allison nixed that, "The people from Reno are waiting."
They were shown into the room and Rodrick said, "I hope that man wasn't anyone vital to the organization."
"The organization will survive," he was told. Then the guy got to business; "We want the same deal they got."
"You're planning on having only one location, as well?"
"The very same set up that they got," he insisted.
"You're in no position to make demands," I said, "This is his domain, not yours."
Rodrick glared at them for a moment or two and said, "Twenty million plus a 15% annual fee."
"Are you out of your fucking mind?!?"
The security detail (who'd come into the room with the group) raised their guns.
"Look around," Rodrick said, "whose domain are you in? If you can't compete - you should get out."
"Can't afford it?" Rodrick asked, all sweetness and light.
The head of the security detail cleared his throat, "Excuse me, Lord Paris, should we do something? Maybe arrest them?"
Rodrick fingered his beard. "Escort them to the city limits." Then he pulled out the gun we took from Muerte, "See this gun? It was a present from an assassin named Muerte. He 'gave' it to me after I kicked his ass. You do not want to fuck with me. Ka didn't even blink at the offer - and they paid in cash on the spot. You want to compete with them? Learn some manners."
One of them started to mouth off, which we ignored until he threatened Rodrick. "What did you just say?" Olivia asked. Then they threatened her!
The captain of the security detail asked, "Do you wish to press charges, sir?"
Rodrick gave them all a good, long look and said, "No, they just made an error."
The captain said, "The Overlord has shown you clemency. Go back to the slime hole you came from."
Olivia smiled sweetly and said, "Do you know that threatening an Overlord is a capital offense?"
"And in less than two minutes, you threatened two Overlords," Rodrick added.
The man from Reno tried to brush off the captain as he was 'helped' out of the room but the captain had too strong of grip. A few minutes later we heard the sound of automatic weapons fire from outside, then one of Lucifer's men, the captain, stepped back inside the conference room and said, "There was a slight weapons malfunction. Hope we didn't disturb you sir, ma'ams."
Olivia said, "I hope no one was hurt."
"Oh no! And we've already called for the street cleaners."
"Thank you for handling the problem so quickly," Rodrick said.
The man shrugged, "They made us do it. The news crews were still down there and the mouthy one made another threat, on camera. Then some of the others - got in the way. We took the heads and put them on display. The one who seemed in charge survived so we gave him the bodies and sent him home."
I thanked him for all his help.
"Just our job. Now I really must go brief Lord Venetian, but I'll leave my men."
Rodrick said, "Give Lord Venetian my thanks for the quality men he lent me, and tell him I'd be honored if he'd join me for dinner tomorrow evening." The captain saluted and left.
Allison informed Rodrick that there were some more people waiting, representatives from the other Overlords. "Have you decided on a fee structure?"
"Making it up as I go along," he said and waved for the people to be sent in. The first person in was representing Lord Mirage and his first question was regarding the fee structure.
Rodrick answered him honestly; "We're still working on that. So far there's a corporate fee of twenty million for up to ten branches, plus a 10% annual fee. We're working on smaller more manageable fees for small businesses and individuals."
"Twenty million? Above and beyond all other fees?!?"
"That's for corporations, not Overlords," Rodrick calmly explained. "The fee for fellow Overlords has not yet been decided."
"Well kind of fee were you thinking of?"
"It hasn't been decided," Rodrick repeated.
The guy was all worked up, "Unbelievable! This is undue restriction on trade - I simply can not believe that you haven't thought out the details."
"Hey! Take a breath, okay?" I said. "The domain has been in existence," I looked at my watch, "for like twenty minutes."
But there was no stopping him! "I hope you can take a break from your pleasure time to work on it."
Rodrick pushed back from the table, got up and slowly walked around it. He put an arm around the guy's shoulder and told him, "I'm a pretty easy going guy - but once I get mad " and he punched him, hard, in the stomach.
When he caught his breath, he tried to stand upright and grunted, "Thunderdome."
"Are you sure?" Rodrick asked but the other reps led the man off, all the while explaining that meeting Rodrick in Thunderdome wasn't really in his best interest. Caesar, Binion and their retinues replaced them in the conference room. Rodrick bowed deeply and welcomed them.
"I hear (and see) that you've already had some excitement," Caesar said
Rodrick smiled, "Some people got a little over excited, no real problems. What can I do for the two of you?"
"We need basic money lending licenses and would like to make a deposit."
Rodrick made a judgement call; "The fee is one million plus a 5% annual fee on profits."
While their people worked with Rodrick's people on the paperwork Binion asked Olivia, "How are you enjoying the domain of death sports?"
"Well it's okay. Rodrick and I came up with a new one, Adventure Golf."
"You don't sound too happy about it. Have you ever considered that a different domain might be more to your liking?" Binion asked.
"But I like the hotel," Olivia explained.
Binion almost laughed, "You can swap domains and keep your hotel. I always thought that prostitution would be more to your liking."
"All my girls are for my private use."
"Of course. I meant that you might care more about the 'private operators'. If you're interested, I could mention it to Mirage. I know you're not on the best of terms."
Olivia admitted that she would indeed be interested; Binion nodded serenely and moved on - to me! "Excuse me, dear, what is your title?"
Before Olivia could blurt out 'The Most Rapturous Flame of Corellon' I said, "No title, please just call me Jazz."
"If you say so. My friends and I have discovered a great pastime - quilting. I would love to have you two join our quilting circle."
As is we would say no! "I would love to," I said.
Olivia said, "As would I."
"Wonderful. Have you quilted before?" Olivia and I explained that we'd both done a lot of sewing but no quilting. In the meantime, Rodrick asked Caesar if he'd ever done any skeet shooting.
"What's a skeet?" Caesar asked.
I had a sudden flashback to the whole snipe episode, but Rodrick took the high road, "It's a clay disk that's flung up into the air for target practice."
"Sounds fun! I'll have my people call your people," Caesar said.
"And I'll let you know about the quilting," Binion said. They left and Rodrick spent the rest of the day hard at work
One of the first things he did was send some of his people out to search old bank buildings, looking for anything that might be of use. They returned with books of finance theory, individual bank policies and procedures, and other things like that. One bank actually had people living in it: the ex-employees and their families. When they found out about the new domain, they all decided that they wanted jobs. Rodrick hired them and had a sit down with them to get ideas on how to get thru the first few weeks of business.
The former branch manager said, "You say you've already accepted deposits? My first concern would be with security."
"Not a problem," Rodrick reassured him. "I have some temporary staff from Lord Venetian and will have an entire mercenary company in a few days."
Back at the Aladdin, a few hours later, Olivia received a message from Lord Mirage saying that he was very interested in exchanging domains with her. Apparently the prostitution domain was more of a headache then he had ever imagined, and that was before the new, outside influences. But he wanted a five million-chip buy out on top of the swap so Olivia made an appointment at the Hard Rock to go over the books.
"His Greatness is busy in his gravity room but has made arrangements to have you meet with his Ferengi," she was told.
So Maga went over the books and told Olivia that the domain of prostitution is woefully under-collecting fees and too many people in the structure are taking cuts. In addition, "Some of the girls have go to be skimming. The whole domain is only making half of what it should be making. But it still makes about 25% more than death sports."
Olivia wondered out loud about the five million buy-out.
"Five million?" Maga asked. "The books show that's the amount he paid for the remodeling of the Temple of Aphrodite."
Then Olivia called Jim and asked about the Adventure Golf project. He assured her that she (and Rodrick as well) would get a 10% cut of all profits from it. So she called Mirage and told him that the deal was on. "Write up the agreement, and I'll sign it." He sounded relieved.
She said to Karyn, "Guess what? I'm getting a new domain - prostitution. I'm going to unionize them myself and cut out the people from Reno."
"I don't think you want to do that," Karyn hedged.
"How about I create a guild and standardize?"
"Semantics," I laughed.
"A 'guild' has a better ring to it," Karyn said. "You might want to add some conditions to get a pandering license, and start with a morals clause. Stipulate that they can't beat their girls, or get them hooked on drugs." Olivia was taking lots of notes and was ready to keep going, so she got herself some go-juice and called her staff in to have everything ready for the change of domain tomorrow.
She went to tell Slash that she was going to be working all night and found her in her suite, hiding in the dark. Olivia followed the empty bottles and the smell of alcohol to find her, "What's wrong?"
"She didn't look at you, did she?" she slurred. "You didn't think about me, did you?"
"What are you talking about?"
Slash looked around, to see if anyone else was in the room and whispered, "Akasha. It is very important - did you even think of me a tiny little bit?"
"I think of you a lot, but no, not when Akasha was here. Why?" Olivia asked.
"Shhhhh - I have to get drunk enough to forget who I am, and you have to forget who I am, too. Have a drink. Have a lot of drinks."
"I can't, I have work to do."
"Oh, that's okay - I'll drink enough for both of us," Slash told her.
"Okay," Olivia humored her; "You do that."
Satisfied, Slash crept back into her corner.
Later, after dinner we had the TV on they were already running commercials. "Looking for a loan? The Bank of Caesar's Palace has competitive rates for currently sworn individuals and small business, too."
The leading story on the early news today was transfer of domains with much speculation about what it all will mean. For some reason, Leo wasn't real happy with his sister being in charge of prostitution for an entire city. Go figure.
Rodrick called Olivia to ask for help this morning, "I need more employees. I need a Ferengi."
She got her crystal ball and asked to be shown the nearest unemployed Ferengi. Nothing happened. So they started throwing around ideas - where would we be if we were a Ferengi?
"New York?" Rodrick suggested. "Wall Street?" Olivia scryed the old stock exchange building - it was trashed and empty, save a few hundred rats.
"What about Swiss banks?" Olivia wondered and asked Karyn if she knew the names of any. She hedged a bit and then said she didn't know any. Neither did Allison.
Olivia told the crystal ball, "Show me the First National Bank of Stockholm." Nothing happened.
I looked at Karyn. Karyn looked at me and I shrugged, so she took a deep breath and said to Olivia, "Stockholm is in Sweden."
"Try the Union Bank of Switzerland," Karyn suggested with a deep sigh. So Olivia did and found that it was still standing and was inhabited. The residents had turned it into a real fortress - but no Ferengi, just Humans and Elves. Then she got an idea and had the crystal ball show her the Denver mint. It looked just like it did when we last saw it.
And inside there were Gnomes and a Ferengi working furiously and collecting loot to be melted down. The whole place was patrolled by heavily armed, nasty looking Sylvan Elves. And every one of them was wearing a radio-controlled dog collar with explosives attached to it. Every single person we saw had the same, whammied by the Dragon, vacant look about them.
"I found one!" Olivia told Rodrick. "He's working for the Dragon at the mint in Denver. Wanna go grab him?"
"Okay, we'll grab him, bring him here, un-whammy him and ask him if he wants to go back to the dragon or stay here."
Rodrick said, "Sounds good, I'll be there in ten minutes."
Olivia asked me if I wanted to go with them. I declined, "No thanks, not interested in messing with the Dragon, thank you."
Olivia gave me her teleportation ring and I assured her that if they got into trouble, Leo and I would go after them. Rodrick showed up, armed and armored and once Olivia was ready they kept watch in the crystal ball. After about twenty minutes the Ferengi closed the window he was working and he and the Gnome who shared his booth, gathered up the loot they'd taken in and carried it to the smelting room.
They emptied their cart and headed back. When they were all alone in a hallway, Olivia teleported Rodrick and herself to Denver. I watched as Rodrick grabbed the Ferengi and Olivia grabbed not one, but two Gnomes and they returned in a flash. As soon as they 'popped' in, the newcomers started screaming in agony.
Olivia cast a Magic to break the Dragon's hold on them and the Ferengi and one of the gnomes stopped screaming and sort of collapsed, but the second gnome's screams got louder and he shoved his fingers into his eyes. Rodrick tried to restrain him, but the gnome was determined to get away and he did. As Olivia threw more magic at him, he began to pound his head against a wall until he died. The other Gnome and the Ferengi watched it all in a daze. When it was over, Karyn picked up the body and removed it.
Olivia turned to them and said, "Hi guys!"
They stared at her.
"Welcome to Vegas!"
Rodrick took in their shock and asked if he could get them something to drink.
"A scotch and soda?" the Ferengi asked.
The Gnome said, "Before we do anything - what do we owe you for freeing us from the Dragon?"
"Nothing," Rodrick said.
"Yeah right!" The Gnome snorted.
Olivia pointed at Rodrick; "He was looking for a Ferengi and a Gnome to hire."
Rodrick tried to explain things, but the Gnome kept interrupting, finally the Ferengi shouted, "Look around you! I see electricity, running water, television - scotch!"
The gnome paused and seemed to notice it all for the first time, his eyes locking on the bathroom. "Were do I sign?" he asked, then scurried off into Olivia's bathroom.
Rodrick looked at the Ferengi, "Well?"
"Does this involve a comparative income situation?"
Rodrick nodded, "You will be the highest paid employee except for one, and that is non-negotiable."
Olivia said, "He's the Overlord of Banking."
I said, "He's been enthralled for who know how long, he has no idea what that means."
"He owns the Paris hotel and casino," she said.
The Ferengi was looking very happy, "Civilization!" he said. "Capitalization. Recapitulation of losses."
"Yes," Rodrick agreed.
The Ferengi was looking ecstatic, "My God! We could have it all!" he said to no on in particular. "They've rediscovered the fundamentals of banking. It's not the Celestial Treasury, but it has prospects." Then he said to Rodrick, "I would like to see a statement of salary and income versus the average cost of living."
"Well then guess what your first job is going to be," Rodrick laughed.
The Ferengi moved to the window and was looking down at the strip, "Look at all those people - walking free."
Rodrick joined him at the window, "And all of them owe us money in one way or another."
Olivia piped in with; "You should see the deposits he took in yesterday."
"I've got three million to transfer today," I said.
"Don't forget all mine," Olivia said.
That did it. The Ferengi squealed with pleasure and fainted dead away. Rodrick went into the bathroom to get a damp cloth, came out and said, "Olivia - you're gonna want to have that bathroom sanitized, the Gnome is totally out of control in there."
He revived the Ferengi, who sat up and said, "I like it! But tell me about living quarters, my per diem, bonuses "
"There's a suite at the Paris with your name on it," Rodrick said.
"Suite - sounds good, go on."
"All meals will be provided as will a staff. But I have to be honest - we're a little short handed right now but you can help with the hiring. My business manager will coordinate that with you."
The Ferengi began muttering to himself, already making plans, and Rodrick pulled the gnome out of Olivia's bathroom and herded them both out the door and towards the Paris, "Thanks for your help, Olivia!"
With them gone I asked Olivia if Slash was any better today.
"I don't know - I haven't woken her yet."
"Well I was thinking - maybe we should ask her if she wants to move her mothers down here," I said.
"Good idea," Olivia said. "Come with me."
She got a big cup of coffee and poured in some go-juice, "Good morning, Slash. Time to get up - we have to be at the Hard Rock by 9:00 for the change of domains. You do remember that, don't you?"
"We're moving?" Slash mumbled from under her pillow.
"No. I'm keeping the hotel - ditching the domain." Olivia said as she pulled on an arm. "Come on now, I've got coffee."
Slash sort of sat up, took the cup and swallowed a mouthful and the go juice kicked in. "Oh crap! I am so awake now." She sat all the way up and even opened her eyes, "So what will you be in charge of now?"
"Prostitution," Olivia said proudly.
"Oh well, I guess that's an improvement." She looked around and added, "You go without me, I'm going to stay here and hide some more."
Olivia decided not to push it and said instead, "We're going to be making a quick trip up to Sacramento tomorrow to pick up Rodrick's men, I was thinking we could go get your moms."
"They're total hippies!" Slash said.
"So? So, this is Vegas - deathgames and all that "
I said, "They don't have to live here. They'd probably find the Kingdom more to their liking."
"We can at least ask them," Olivia said.
"I guess so," Slash allowed.
Olivia asked, "Are you ashamed of us?"
"Are you ashamed of them?"
She had no real answer to that.
"Look," Olivia said, "we can't leave them in a refugee camp."
"You don't understand - they have issues."
"Everyone does," I said.
"No! They have 'issues'. They love to protest - anything. I can see them throwing paint on the Cats and yelling 'Fur is murder'! Those kinds of issues."
"Well we can at least go visit them - take them some presents," Olivia conceded.
"Okay, we can do that."
Before we left her to resume her hiding and make our way to the Hard Rock, Slash said, "You know - the Temple of Aphrodite would be screwed if you revoked their license."
Olivia laughed, "That's evil - I like it. I'll make sure they're investigated."
At the Hard Rock all the paperwork was signed and exchanged and there was much rejoicing. Okay, I made that last part up, but there was a lot of signing. Olivia took all the record books and took them back and asked her Ferengi to interpret for her.
He was silent for awhile and then started listing off points, "There's not a whole lot of action taken if or when a pimp does away with a girl - that's not financially sound - and it's not Lord Las Vegas Hilton's fault; he can't get anyone to testify. There are a large number of suicides, suspicious overdoses and disappearances. Some pimps are obviously worse offenders than others." He flipped thru some more files, "Lots of infractions with underage girls. And Lord Mirage was just plain sloppy - there are missing records and lots of suspicious entries."
Olivia told him that she'd leave the records to him, she wanted him to make a list of pimps, madams and panderers - she plans on meeting with each of them, individually, to explain her expectations and the new code of conduct that they will all be required to follow. We left him at it and Karyn found us to give each of us a pristine linen envelope - our invitations to the quilting circle tonite at 8:00 at the Stratosphere.
We were killing time when one of Olivia's people told me that some people wanted to speak to me and that Karyn's security people had cleared them (I didn't want to know what that meant!) So they were shown in. They were all Elves and explained that they work out at the hospital. Hey explained that they were there to ask for my assistance in creating a shelter for Elven women who are pregnant and for new mothers.
"Funny you should mention that," I told them, "I have some ideas in mind to work with the Priest over at St Joan's. I was thinking of a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, a medical clinic that sort of thing. But I will add that idea to my list. But anything we come up with will be for people of all races."
"It would have to be someplace with good security," one of the women said.
Olivia whispered, "They want room at the Temple."
Oh! "Well there isn't really room in the Temple itself - it's not that large. I was thinking of obtaining one or two of the old, empty hotels."
Olivia offered part of the Aladdin, but I didn't take her up on it. I need to speak to her about that; I certainly don't want to impose on her. I took the ladies names and told them I'd get back to them.
After dinner Olivia and I went to the Stratosphere. We were greeted by Binion's assistant and taken to what had been the restaurant, Before, in the lower level of the pod. It's been remodeled and is still rotating!
We were introduced to everyone and I was happy to note that we were not the only non-Cats there. One of the women looked familiar to me and I finally placed her - she's the organist at St. Joan's. The room had been set up with lots of pillows and comfy chairs in a large circle and one of Binion's people got Olivia and I set up with a quilting frame and something to work on. Everyone worked quietly for a bit until Binion broke the silence by asking Olivia, "So, the transition went well?"
"Yes it did. Thank you for your assistance. Now I have a lot of work to do cleaning up the mess."
There were nods of agreement to that.
The organist said to me, "I understand you were approached today about the need for a shelter for pregnant women and new mothers."
"What are you going to do about it?"
"I'm hoping to work together with Fr. Matthew on several projects, including that one."
"That would be good," another woman said. "The medical conditions are horrid here."
"Well I do have some money left to work on some projects and I hope to be able to convince some others in town to contribute - all for the good of the community."
The room was quiet again for a time.
"So how do you two think Rodrick will handle the new domain?" Binion asked.
Olivia said, "He's very community minded and will want to help others. Don't judge him by that hair of his."
"He was really very subdued while dealing with the representative from Lord Mirage. The man was being frightfully rude and asked for what he got," I said.
Binion smiled, "Indeed. From what I heard, I would have thrown him from the roof."
"He was more subdued than I plan to be," Olivia said.
"Going thru the record of my new domain we discovered incidents of procurers abusing girls, getting them hooked on drugs, not allowing them to leave the business and an alarming number of mysterious deaths and disappearances."
There were murmurs of displeasure around the room.
"But the new guild will take care of that," Olivia said. "It will also offer training."
"As well as health care," I said.
Binion looked up from her quilt and said, "While you're cleaning up the domain you should require that people in particular establishments attend etiquette lessons."
"Oh, I agree," Olivia told her.
The organist added, "That is one more reason the question of a safe house for mothers was brought to you. We see a lot of those girls in St. Joan's. Girls just trying to support themselves by hooking. They get pregnant by their customers and then the 'gentlemen' who make their living off the fruit of the girl's labor beat them for it. Beat them until they miscarry or until they're dead."
Olivia said, "I'm going to have to get some people researching some sort of birth control spell."
Binion tried to act casual, but failed, "Might there be some sort of spell to increase fertility?"
"I imagine they would be two sides of the same coin," Olivia said.
"Well, let us know if you need assistance," Binion said.
And so the evening passed with more quilting and more chitchat. There were a couple breaks to rest fingers and stretch backs (and to have tea and finger foods). Things wound down a little before 11:00 and as everyone was packing up, the 'menfolk' started to arrive. It was so very funny, the women were showing off their work and the men were all so patronizing.
If they only knew!