After breakfast Olivia and Slash got a couple of those bags that magically hold huge amounts of stuff, packed them with presents for Slash's moms, and Olivia took them off to find them. They were still in the mall and were surprised and happy to see Slash. They were grateful for the gifts and when Olivia asked them if they were happy there they admitted that they need a few things.
"Why not come with us and visit Las Vegas?" Olivia asked them.
"Yes, I've got a nice place there - the Aladdin hotel, and there's plenty of room."
They launched into, "Bet you're still buying into the whole 'might is right', imperialism, corporate greed scene there, aren't you?"
"I'm organizing a guild for my employees," Olivia said.
They admitted that they approved of that, "What type of work do they do?"
Slash gave her a quick elbow to the ribs, but Olivia told them. "I'm the Overlord of prostitution."
They launched into a spiel about how many people are abused and forced into prostitution.
"That's why I'm cleaning it up," Olivia told them. But then they started a spiel about how marriage was nothing but a legalized form of prostitution and just as evil.
"So how do you feel about harems?" Olivia asked, earning another elbow to the ribs. Well, they think those are bad too, reinforcing a sexually dominant paradigm in which sex is extorted for comfort and where women are forced (yet again) to exhibit a submissive attitude.
Slash looked at her watch and declared, "Wow! Look at the time!"
Her moms thanked them again for the gifts and encouraged Olivia to give up her harem and settle down in a nice stable relationship.
Back at the Aladdin, all Slash said was, "I warned you - issues! But would you listen? No!" She kept trying to guilt Olivia out for making her go so Olivia, in turn, kept trying to guilt ME out for suggesting the whole thing.
Hey! I was just trying to do something nice for Slash. I owe her.
Later, I went to the Paris and asked Rodrick how things were going.
"Paperwork! I hate paperwork! But we're just about ready to open to the public," he said. "Are you ready to go to Sacramento?"
"I've got Olivia's ring, you've got that Altoids tin, right?"
He did, so I took us both to the mercenary's hiring guild in Sacramento. All of Rodrick's men were there, with all their gear, ready to go.
"So how are you getting us to Vegas?" someone asked. Rodrick took the Altoids tin from a pocket and put it on the ground. There was much laughter. Rodrick explained and opened it; it was now the size of a good-sized footlocker. The first man very hesitantly dropped a dufflebag in. It vanished and the man shrugged, stepped in and climbed down the ladder.
He yelled up, "Okay! Start handing me the gear!" Soon, all the gear and all the men were stowed away and Rodrick carefully closed the box, picked it up and gave me a nod. I returned us to the Paris where Allison's people were waiting. All the men climbed back out of the box and unloaded the gear.
"Are we really in Vegas?"
Rodrick opened the curtains and proved it to them. Then Allison's people showed them all to their rooms.
"Report back here when you're all settled," Rodrick told them.
When all of them were back he told them, "Welcome to Vegas, I appreciate you're willingness to come. Now, first things first - you all have a 24 hour pass."
I suggested that we show them the best of the remaining places in town and he agreed. "But you'd better call Leo; I don't want him getting upset with me again."
So I called him and casually mentioned that Rodrick and I were going to be taking out the members of Rodrick's mercenary company for a night on the town. "Would you like to join us?"
"What? Mercenaries? I'll be right over - don't even think about moving until I get there!"
That's my guy!
I admit it - I needed a big glass of go-juice before I could function this morning. The sad thing? (Or would that be a scary thing?) (Or both?) Well anyway, the sad/scary thing? I bet Rodrick and all his men were just fine this morning. Somehow, I managed to get dressed, managed to keep some food in my stomach and checked in on the construction crew. They assured me that it will be ready next week, March first to be exact, and I believe it - it looks fabulous! They're just doing the very final touches. Then I went and joined Olivia. She was going to be interviewing pimps, panderers and madams - just sounds fascinating, doesn't it?
Olivia was asking if there was a room with a tile floor available (they're easier to clean).
"Get a tarp for them to stand on," I suggested.
Karyn liked that idea; "I'll get a stack of 'em."
As she left, Olivia called after her, "Have some of the housekeeping staff stand by. Promise them a bonus."
Karyn came back a short while later and announced that she had everything ready. She led us to the conference hall. There was a large desk and chair for Olivia and a line of uncomfortable looking molded plastic chairs for the interviewees. There was another one of the plastic chairs set in front of Olivia's desk (on top of a tarp) and several feet behind that; Karyn had erected a backstop of cinderblocks, old mattresses and more cinderblocks. In one corner there was a pile of tarps. There were two chairs (nicer than the icky plastic ones but not as nice as Olivia's) behind Olivia, one for me and one for the street judge sent by Las Vegas Hilton to sit in and observe.
Olivia's Ferengi arrived with a stack of folders for Olivia, explaining they started with the worst offender, and we all took our places. Olivia nodded to Karyn, who ushered in the interviewees. Some had brought girls with them and some of them were wearing outfits that made them look like extras from bad 70's movies. Apparently they choose to dress that way for 'ease of identification' according to Karyn.
Corellon help us!
Olivia picked the first and called the man, a pimp named Deke, forward. As he sat and fidgeted she reviewed his file. Finally he said, "So what are you shaking us down for?"
"Shakedown?" Olivia asked. "I was hoping for an explanation, your record is horrible."
"Sometimes your bitches don't listen. And there are only two things that they understand."
"Really? And what are those two things?" Olivia asked.
"A dick or a fist."
"To deal with a discipline problem?"
"Oh yeah," Deke said.
"Well thank you," Olivia said, "that's all."
He stood to leave but before he could even turn around Olivia Glocked him. In the resulting silence, Karyn calmly moved the chair, wrapped the body in the tarp and moved it to a corner. Then she got a new tarp, spread it out, replaced the chair and nodded to Olivia.
Olivia picked up the next file, "Mr. Rocco?"
His face went white but he moved up to sit in front of Olivia. Before she could say a thing he said, "I most sincerely wish to express my desire to change my ways and to apologize for any and all offenses that I may or may not have committed."
"Good." Olivia said. "This is the way that things will be - your girls, ALL girls have rights and will be protected by a guild. You do not own the girls - you represent them. Do you understand?"
Rocco said, "Yeah, I understand - you make up the rules and our opinions don't count."
"Well what opinions do you have?" Olivia inquired.
"I'm just here to make a profit. The girls can do what they want, they're making a living."
Olivia indicated his file; "You seem to like keeping your girls stoned."
"I just supply what they want, like a benefit."
"And if they don't want to use?" Olivia asked.
"I had some of those - but they saw the light."
Suddenly he looked at a ring on his hand - it was glowing. He looked at Olivia; "Oh shit!"
"Do you have any affairs that need to be put in order?"
Rocco sat up straight in the chair; "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me."
"Will you answer one other question?"
"Would you rather be shot to death or die of a heroin overdose?"
Rocco chose overdose, but Karyn told Olivia that she flat refused to cleanup after an overdose, citing some of the nastier effects.
"Oh, I had no idea," Olivia said, "that's disgusting."
Rocco got on his knees, "What can I do to avoid this fate?"
Olivia asked the girls who were present, "Is there anyone who will press charges against him?"
A couple of them said, "Don't hurt him, please?"
Olivia thought for a bit, "Tell you what, Rocco, pay the amount to detox your girls and I'll let you leave Las Vegas."
"I can do exile," he hastily agreed.
So Olivia did some tallying and came up with the amount needed to clean up all of his girls. "Have you got cash?"
Rocco emptied his pockets, removed all his jewelry and even added the magical ring. Olivia moved it all to one side of her desk, "Mr. Rocco - you have until the end of the day to get out of town, then Lord Las Vegas Hilton's representative will file notice of your exile." He left and all the people waiting watched him go - all of them looking pretty nervous. The next man took his time getting into the chair before Olivia so Karyn moved to assist him.
He shook of her hand, "Get off me, you dumb bitch." Karyn stepped away with her hands up. When she was clear, Olivia Glocked him.
"People need to have manners," I said.
"You're right, and they need to understand that I am their new Overlord."
I nodded, "And by extension, Karyn, your employee, should be shown the same courtesy."
The street judge never said a word.
Olivia looked at the body and apologized to Karyn, "I missed the plastic, sorry."
"You could have waited until I was a little farther away," Karyn pointed out. "But you did promise a bonus to the housecleaning staff."
While the mess was being cleaned up, Olivia used a small magic to clean the splattered blood off of Karyn. When everything was ready again Olivia called forth the next person, Leslie - a madam. Olivia explained that all of her records had been examined by a Ferengi who found that she had been extremely dishonest with her employee's earnings.
"I see that you buy people at debt auctions and make them work off their price. But then you cook your books so that it would take them forever to pay off their debt. Can you explain these accounting practices?"
"I will have my accountant executed immediately," Leslie said.
"Nope, not good enough. You need to take care of this situation."
"This is going to be financial, isn't it," Leslie said with a big martyred sigh.
"Yes. Yes it is," Olivia said. "I have copies of all your records, when you bought each person and for how much. You will figure what they really earned and pay them, plus a penalty."
"I don't have that kind of money!"
"Where did it go?"
"Such as?" Olivia asked.
"Protection money to the Overlords."
"What?" Olivia demanded. Finally the street judge reacted to something, but she stayed quiet.
"Protections money or 'fees' or what ever you call it."
Olivia very calmly said, "Did you ever think that maybe you're in the wrong line of business?" The street judge tapped Olivia and asked for a chance to speak.
She said, "There's really nothing on the books against keeping incorrect records, except if it results in underpaying an Overlord their rightful fees. There was an incident with this woman previously, under Lord Mirage's jurisdiction, but that was taken care of by Lord Hard Rock."
"But she's cheating her employees!" Olivia objected.
"Just revoke her license," I said. "Put her out on the streets."
The judge nodded. "Her Holiness has it."
"Why, thank you, Jazz," Olivia said.
The judge thought for a moment, "Or, on the other hand, your judgment against her business practices are perfectly legal due to the deception practiced against your domain. You could have her sold at a debt auction."
Olivia looked at Leslie, "Still can't come up with the money?"
A particularly unsavory looking pimp stood and said, "I'll pay her fine and assume her debt."
Leslie freaked out! "Can I have until the end of the day to come up with it?"
"As long as you don't sell any of your people into a worse situation. If you'd like - you can sell their contracts back to me, once you have an honest reckoning of what their remaining debts are," Olivia said.
Leslie swore an oath that she'd be back and hurried on her way. Before she made it thru the door, Olivia warned her, "I will find you anywhere you might try to hide."
When she was gone I told Olivia, "If she comes back with the money, you should still revoke her license."
That was when the new Priestess of Aphrodite arrived. She'd brought several attendants and swept into the room like a beauty queen. They were all wearing suits and they all had hair. Wigs or had it re-grown?
"I do apologize for being late but there was a service I had to perform. I'm sure that being a Priestess yourself you understand that such things take precedence over other more mundane laws," she said.
"What can I do for you?" Olivia asked.
"You summoned me."
"Oh yes, that's right. We have business on two fronts, don't we?" The Priestess flicked a glance at the bodies and sat in the chair. Olivia said, "I've been going back and forth, should I revoke your prostitution license? I admit to being kind of cranky about your Temple's practices against my business."
The Priestess reminded her, "My predecessor has been dealt with in a rather final manner."
"That's true," Olivia allowed. "What are your intentions?"
"To answer your questions."
"What are your intentions toward my business? Give me a straight yes or no."
"The Temple is contemplating no actions to endanger any Overlord or infringe on any business."
"Are you angry with me for what happened to your predecessor?" Olivia asked.
"She showed human weaknesses. The welfare of my Temple comes before everything else."
Olivia said, "I would like your word that you, your Temple, anyone you might hire will not act against me, my friends or my business."
"I can't do that. Suppose I hire someone to sweep the Temple, that person might harbor certain negative feeling towards you. I can't be responsible for that."
"That is not what I meant. I meant hired assassins," Olivia said.
"The Temple plans no actions."
"Yes or no?"
The Priestess said, "I cannot swear to that, the free will of too many people is involved. But the Temple will not engage in or condone any such activities."
"I had people hurt when that bomb went off in my club."
"That was a regrettable action and the person responsible was punished."
Olivia said, "No they weren't - we still don't know who was responsible for that. Do you know?"
"I do not."
"Let me consult for a moment." She leaned to me, "Well?"
"She can't swear for all her people; that would be like you being responsible for all your employees or me being responsible for my congregation."
Karyn said, "Ask if she was a lawyer."
Olivia did and the Priestess shrugged, "I didn't pass the bar exam and was studying to take it again."
"You'll never get a straight answer from her," Karyn said.
"I think she's been pretty forward," I said.
"Should I renew her license?" Olivia asked.
The street judge said, "If you do not, it would be very close to infringing on their religious practices."
Olivia nodded and told the Priestess, "You can keep your license but you'd better have the cleanest books in town."
The Priestess acknowledged that with a nod, "We will, your Greatness, and you will always have Thunderdome."
And so the day progressed. Olivia spoke to each and every person and a few more licenses were revoked and a few more bodies were added to the pile.
Everyone was gone and the housekeeping staff moved in while Olivia tested the magic ring that Rocco had given in payment. It allows the wearer to know if someone in the vacinity has magic items and what they do. We were about to leave for dinner and drinks when the madam showed up. She and Ferengi balanced the books and she counted out the money owed.
"How'd you manage?" Olivia asked her.
"I called in a few favors. Why do you ask? You didn't care how, you just wanted the money."
"I was clear - I told you that you couldn't hurt the girls. Well you paid the full amount so no debt slavers for you but I am pulling your license. You probably figured that."
"Yeah, I did."
Olivia said, "Karyn, send someone to her establishment, have them deliver this money to the appropriate people and see if there is someone there to take over. Oh! And find out just what 'favors' she called in." Karyn escorted Leslie out on her way to see to that.
Olivia and I were on our way thru the lobby when Olivia was stopped by the person working the front desk, "Your Greatness, there is a fellow here who says he has a great need to speak to you. He has an invention to show you."
"Send him in to the conference hall," Olivia told her.
Wow! What a freak show! As soon as he walked in I had one of those 'feelings' ya know? There was a shudder down my back, what a creep. He had a plethora of gold chains and medallions. He was wearing a black satin shirt; skintight black leather pants and spiked black leather armbands. And with him were two girls dressed in electrical tape. The man posed (no other word for it) in front of Olivia's desk and the two girls settled at his feet. "So you're the new boss," he sneered.
"The new Overlord, yes. And you are?"
"I am Master Derrik."
He was so pompous I had to bite my lip to not laugh.
Olivia cut to the chase, "What do you have to show me?"
"Something that the previous overseer of whoredom refused to even see." Ooh! I hated him. But he was continuing! "The problem with a slut, as you are aware, is disease and pregnancy." Ooh! I so hated him. But there was more! "The real problem is to prevent the disease and pregnancy. The previous overseer "
"That's 'Overlord'," Olivia told him. "Do it again and I'll have Karyn correct you."
"Correct me?" he sneered.
Karyn stepped in front of him, grabbed him by the throat with her right hand and lifted him off his feet. She squeezed until there was a loud crack and 'Master Derrik' went limp. She let the body drop. "Judgment call."
"Good judgment," I said.
The two girls didn't say a thing, just looked at the three of us, waiting. Olivia asked them, "Do you ladies know what his invention was?"
The brunette held up her hand, showing a plain silver ring, "This."
"Let me see." Olivia put on the ring and she scanned it. "Hmm. It will prevent all disease and pregnancy for whoever wears it. Nifty."
"He makes us all wear them," Brunette said.
"What do we do now?" the redhead asked.
"You're free," Olivia said.
"No," Red said.
Red pointed to the corpse; "We belong to him."
We tried to explain to them that he was dead and they were free. But they kept insisting that they belonged to 'Master Derrik'. Olivia tested to see if they were under some sort of spell - they weren't.
"They're just really stupid," I whispered.
"How many of you are there?" Olivia asked.
"There are six."
Brunette looked at Karyn. "Do we belong to you now?"
Karyn looked to Olivia for help and found none. "So Karyn," Olivia asked, "what are you going to do with your new acquisitions?"
"They're not mine! They can go sell themselves on Fremont for all I care!"
They stood and bowed to Karyn, "We will wait for you outside with the others."
Olivia stopped them, "Hey! Give me that other ring!" She took Red's ring and asked, "Say, you don't know if he kept any notes, do you?"
"We can show you," Brunette said.
Well, it turned out they were in the guys 'car'. Out front we found the other 4 girls, all blondes, all decked out in black rubber pony suits and harnessed up to a rickshaw. Brunette handed Karyn some scrolls.
"What do you wish us to do now?" Red asked Karyn.
Before Karyn could tell them what she really wanted them to do, Olivia told her, "Tell them that you want them to go to St. Joan's and speak to "
"Fr. Matthew," I provided.
"And tell him that they wish to start a new life."
So that's what Karyn did and even made sure that they had an escort. We watched them go and Karyn shuddered, "I need a bath."
Olivia said, "So call it a night. Jazz and I are going to have a few drinks, right?"
"Definitely," I agreed. Then I had a thought. "You know, you should send a donation to St Joan's."
"Good idea. Karyn, have someone take 6,000 chips over and make sure they give them to Fr. Matthew."
It was late afternoon when we got to the pool and we found it buzzing with children. A woman who looked to be in charge saw us and said, "Her Lordship is here, time to go."
Olivia waived the woman over, "Where did they all come from?"
"They all live here, your Greatness."
"I've never seen them before," Olivia said.
"They're not allowed on the top levels of the hotel."
"Well, let them stay," Olivia said.
I said, "They're so much fun to watch."
We both laughed (and so did the members of Olivia's harem who had joined us) when one little girl said, "She can't be an Overlord! She doesn't have fur."
"Hi there! My name is Olivia."
A woman shooed the child back to the others and said, "Please don't talk to them, ma'am."
"They ask enough questions already that we don't want to answer."
"Like 'why are those girls kissing each other?' I know I am in no position to judge you ma'am, but I was taught that was a perversion and, well, you're going to burn in Hell."
I was impressed by the woman's courage.
Another woman called, "C'mon Muriel, it's time to get the kids in for dinner."
Muriel sort of curtsied at Olivia and moved off to help herd the kids.
When they were gone some of the staff started to arrive to use the pool. They were startled to see us there and apologized for interrupting and started to leave. Olivia stopped them and told them to feel free to use the pool.
And they did - but they were quiet and subdued. I said to Olivia, "We're crimping their style - we should go inside." So we gathered up Olivia's girls and retired to her suite for our boat drinks. But ya know what? They just didn't taste as good. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to 'donate' part of the hotel to create a women's shelter. She told me in no uncertain terms that she was very serious.
Leo found us there, "I was wondering where you two had gotten to."
"Do you think I'm going to burn in Hell?" Olivia said instead of hello.
I held my breath, waiting for his answer.
"I don't know!" he said and then paused for a moment. "I don't think there are any answers out there anymore. Is there any particular reason you're asking?" We explained and he was quiet for a moment before saying, "It's still a free country - opinions vary and they always will. Don't worry about it. Are you ready to call it a night, Jazz, or do you want to stay here and debate theology?"
"I'm ready to go. Boat drinks just don't taste the same indoors. Let's go upstairs and debate theology." So I took him upstairs. I made him a drink and said, "Leo would you let me do something?"
"Do you trust me?"
"Then you'll let me tie you up?"
"Then you'll let me tie you to the bed?"
He thought for a moment, "Sure, what the Hell."
So I tied him naked, spread-eagle on the bed as tight as I could. Then I turned around, picked up a notebook and said, "And you are going to stay like that until you tell me who you want to have as your groomsman for the wedding!"
He was not amused. I did not care.
When he finally realized that I was seriously going to leave him like that, he decided to cooperate.
"I thought I'd ask Alfred to be best man."
"Okay, good, that's a start. Anyone else?" I asked.
"Rodrick, of course. Walter and Phillips. And "
"And?" I prompted.
"That would be appropriate."
"Well, you'd better make sure that Orion girlfriend of his is there. Wouldn't want Dallas to make an appearance."
I told him, "Right. I'll add Maisara to Cordelia and Sylvia."
"That's only three."
"Well, Olivia's to be my Maid of Honor, naturally."
"Naturally. But you're one short. What about Allison?"
"You're right - she's been helping us since the very beginning, and it will make Rodrick happy."
I put the notebook down, "Well, now that that's taken care of - I have one more thing to do."
I headed for the door and he yelled, "Where are you going?"
"To the Cathedral - I need to ask Corellon something."
"You're going to leave me like this?!?"
"Oh right," I said. "I'd better untie you, there's a distinct possibility that Corellon might strike me down and it would scandalize the housekeeper to find you like that." I made him promise to be good, untied him and headed for the Cathedral.
Once there I composed myself and asked Corellon if He would be angry if Slash were to perform my wedding ceremony. "After all, I would be dead if it weren't for her," I added.
There were a few moments of silence before He said, "I would rather have her then that Priestess of Crom. I find that Crom is an obnoxious upstart. At least Ellistrae is socially acceptable."
"Thank You so much for understanding."
I made my way thru the halls and ran into Olivia. "What are you doing down here?" I asked.
"Well I was thinking that I should have a radio of my own so I can contact the Kingdom without having to go to the Stratosphere. I didn't want to bother Karyn so I came down here to have someone look into it. But I freaked out the woman working the night desk."
"I bet you did." I thought to myself.
Then she wandered around for awhile and played some video poker for a bit. One of the pit bosses approached her and asked if she would like to have the VIP area opened up.
"Is there anyone else who would play there?" she asked him.
"No, I'm afraid not. Not anymore."
She thought for awhile and decided she might try to start up an Overlord poker game.
"I'm betting that the Cat's would be lousy poker players," I told her.
"You're probably right - that whole tail thing," she said. "Then I went looking for the Priest of Crom."
She found the Temple closed but there was a sign that listed the Priest's number so she called him on the house phone, "So whatcha doing?"
"I was about to call it a night, did you need to talk about something?" he asked.
"I was just looking for someone to talk to - but you're under no obligation to do so."
"Very subtle," I told her.
He gave her his room number and she went up to speak with him.
"And you know what?" she asked me. "He's got a crappy little economy room. I told him I'd get him a better one, but he insisted that he was just fine."
"Do you need guidance in a matter?" he asked her.
"No, not really, it's just that it seems that my employees are afraid of me."
He laughed and told her, "It's that 'shoot first, ask questions when they're dead' thing."
"Hey! The guys I shot today all warranted it, the street judge from Lord Las Vegas Hilton agreed."
Then she told him about the woman at the pool and he told her, "Then that woman needs to pick a different hotel to live and work at. Don't worry about her, not everyone is going to appreciate your lifestyle."
"It used to be fun, going out clubbing, I didn't have to take a full security squad with me."
"But that goes with the position," the Priest told her. "Are you concerned that you set a bad example to your people?"
"I just don't want them to be afraid of me," Olivia told him.
"But it's only natural."
"But I try to help them! I'm reinforcing the security at my farms, I take care of my employees."
"'Above all else, to thine own self be true'," he quoted to her.
"I hate to admit it out loud - with all of the people who have suffered - but the Change has been good to me. Before, I had a crappy job and shared a little house - and look at me know,"
"Yes. Look at you now. I would only be disappointed in you, Sister, if you were to throw that woman and her family out of the Hotel."
"I can't do that!"
"And there you go," the Priest said.
Olivia thought about it for a bit, thanked him, and offered her assistance for the Temple.
"I'll let you know if I need any."
"Money?" Olivia asked.
"No, thank you."
"A better location?"
"No," he said again, "Although, now that you are firmly in place here, I can go ahead and remove all the 'bugs' in the place."
"Help you enlarge it? Supplies? I can help."
"We're good, thank you," he insisted.
Olivia was exasperated; "Well what good does it do to have power if you can't help others?"
The Priest smiled, "Help someone who has not taken a vow to help others. Really, the Temple can't depend on you; we must be able to exist without you. Now, goodnight."
"So now I'm headed back to the girls," she told me. "Why are you out and about?"
"I had to speak to Corellon about something. But now I have to get back, Leo's a little annoyed with me."
So I told her.
She laughed and laughed and laughed. "I can't believe that he's gone from 'bend over so I can drive' to this. See you tomorrow."
I'm pretty amazed, myself.