This morning I asked Slash if she would marry Leo and I - and she agreed. "Where is this going to be?"
"In the Cathedral."
"And Corellon is okay with this?" she asked.
Leo asked, "Is that what you had to talk to Him about last night? I could have asked the base chaplain out at Nellis."
"No, not so much, no, I don't think so."
"It was just an idea. Or that Fr. Matthew you told me about."
"I thought it best to ask Slash, since I wouldn't be here if not for her." That quieted him down.
"So what day is the big wedding?" Slash asked.
"Beltane!" Slash said
"Yep! And orgy to follow the reception," Olivia said. Leo's only response was a raised eyebrow.
"Well, I will be honored to do it, but I probably won't be able to stay for all of the reception," Slash said.
I told her, "I understand, you have other duties to take care of that day."
Then she got an evil glint in her eye, "Maybe we could borrow Leo for the May Pole?"
I turned to him, "Leo?"
"I've got other plans."
"Sorry - he's my May Pole."
Then Olivia asked me if she could borrow that hat I got from Muerte.
"So I can wander around without scaring my employees."
"Are you still freaked out about that?" I asked.
"Freaked out about what?" Slash wanted to know.
"My employees are afraid of me."
Leo snorted, but didn't laugh.
Slash said, "Of course they're afraid of you - you're the boss! Before all this, did you ever like having your boss hanging around, even if you were just on a break? You just need to accept that and get over it. It's only natural that they'd be uncomfortable around you. As for being afraid - well, perhaps the previous Overlord was 'impulsive'. So they transfer that fear to you."
"You could invite them to tea," I suggested. I was kidding, by the way.
"That's it!" Olivia said. "Friday afternoon club! Karyn! We're having a party for the employees next Friday."
"Actually, that's a good idea," I said. "I was thinking of throwing one to thank everyone for either helping with or being inconvenienced by the Cathedral construction. We can combine them."
Olivia told Karyn to post some signs around so everyone will know about the party. "Food, drinks, Kool-Aid for the kids - that sort of thing."
"I'll have Housekeeping get right on it," Karyn said.
"Door prizes," I said.
"Yes! We'll hand out tickets at the door and announce numbers every twenty minutes or so," Olivia said. "I'll give out cash and days off."
"There should be games for the kids," I suggested.
"I'll talk to someone from Education," Karyn said before Olivia could say a word.
"This is great and we have a whole week to plan," Olivia said.
"Oh! That reminds me - I need to plan some sort of dedication ceremony for the Cathedral. It'll be ready to open to the public on the first."
"Don't you just need to have lots of Latin and holy water?" Leo asked.
"Lots of Elvish and I don't know what else," I told him. "This is new to me." Olivia suggested that the day before the ceremony I should plant a bunch of seeds outside and then as part of the ceremony, make them grow. I thought that was a great idea.
Then Olivia asked Karyn if her people had found a radio yet. "It's been less than twelve hours," Karyn reminded her.
We finished breakfast and I told Olivia that I was going to use the mirrors to talk to Malcolm.
"I'll come with you," she said.
Leo went off to the Embassy, Slash to her temple and Olivia and I headed to her office. As we passed her employees, Olivia made an effort to speak to each one, calling them by name. They were freaked out.
We set up the mirrors and activated them. A few minutes passed and Malcolm appeared. "Hello? Oh, it's you two."
"Hey!" I said.
"Have you missed us?" Olivia asked.
Malcolm didn't answer and said, "I haven't heard from you for awhile."
Olivia told him, "We've been busy. Jazz's Cathedral is almost finished."
I asked him if he and Ellen would be able to come to the wedding. May first."
"Oh, um, actually, we won't be able to make it."
Olivia said, "Beltane - fertility ceremonies "
"Well, yes," Malcolm said, and I swear I could hear him blushing.
"I was going to ask you to give me away - but I guess that's more important. Maybe I'll ask Caesar."
Olivia said, "I have a new domain!"
"No - a new one. I traded with someone."
"You're not at the Aladdin anymore?" he asked.
"I am. I'm just not in charge of deathsports anymore."
"So what are you in charge of?"
We could hear Ellen laughing in the background. "She's forming a guild, Ellen," I said.
"That's a good start," Ellen said and we saw her move into view behind Malcolm.
"You should see the losers I wasted yesterday while interviewing pimps," Olivia told him.
"Good for you - let me know if you have any questions," Ellen offered.
Olivia said, "Maybe I could come for a short visit and talk to you about it."
Malcolm was flustered and said, "Could you, please, not mention that subject?"
"I didn't say a thing!" Olivia protested.
Malcolm said, "If you wish to speak to her Majesty, privately about private matters "
"In private..." I helped
Malcolm ignored me and continued, "then you can do so, but the Kingdom should stay out of Vegas politics."
"Maybe Ellen could come here. Visit for a week or so," Olivia suggested.
"Maybe you could go get her," I suggested to Olivia, "And Izzy, too."
"Isadore?" Malcolm asked.
"Yes, that was the initial reason I called - I wanted to see if I could borrow her for a couple weeks. To help me with the whole reception thing."
"I do not own her. She is free to make that decision herself."
"Well I didn't want to deprive you of a valuable staff member without giving you a say in the matter," I told him.
"I thank you and feel free to ask her about it."
"I'll come get both of them," Olivia said.
"You can't be serious!" said Malcolm.
"Why not?" Olivia, Ellen and I all said in unison.
"We'll take good care of her," I promised. "Or you can come, too. The last time you were here you only stayed a day."
He sighed, "We'll see. Kings can't have days off."
"Sure you can, you're the king," Olivia said.
"We'll be in touch about it," he said.
"Tell Cordy 'hi'," Olivia said.
"Oh! She needs to come, too. For a dress fitting," I said.
"Is there anyone else the Royal Personage can deliver messages to?" he said.
"Now that you mention it - say 'hi' to Morag and Henrietta," I said.
Olivia warned them, "Don't call too late - I'll be out clubbing."
"They have clubs," Ellen said, sounding very forlorn.
"I own a club," Olivia said, "New Babylon."
Malcolm said, "But knowing Olivia's taste "
"Yes? Go on, say it," Olivia prompted him.
"It's a CLUB," Ellen insisted.
"A club with dancing and music and friendly people," Olivia said.
Malcolm exchanged a look with Ellen; "We'll call you tonight." And with that he cut the link.
"She should come. It would do her good, we can let her howl all she wants," I said to Olivia. Then I spent the afternoon writing out invitations to all the local VIP's for the Cathedral's dedication ceremony.
The last three days have been so busy! I've been doing final inspections on the construction, checking on the new vestments and doing acoustic checks (and the acoustics are pretty darn amazing!)
All in all, I'm really pleased. The Dwarves removed all the stadium style seating and replaced it with light colored wooden pews with some nice comfortable padding so it really looks more like a church than a theatre. Back behind the scenes, the old shopping section (Desert Passage, they called it) has been transformed into classrooms and office.
The smaller spaces in the back have been changed into single person cloister cells. Small but comfortable with a bed, a small storage chest and a meditation space. Perfect for someone looking for a quiet retreat. They also showed me where they're installing the security checkpoints for the women's shelter.
I had just finished with my tour when I got a call from Jim. He wanted to know if I would be agreeable to allowing a film crew do a behind the scenes tour.
"Sure! Publicity is good!" I told him. The crew showed up and I showed them all around. It's so pretty!
Then Colonel Nightshade ("Really, you need to stop using my rank. Call me Daria.") appeared and had a whole bunch of people with her.
"Let me introduce you to your staff," she said.
"For the Cathedral." They were everything from Priests and Priestesses to teachers for the school to secretaries to people to take care of the Cathedral proper. Corellon Bless her! The most formidable of them was a 90 year-old woman. A teaching sister who carries a yardstick and a matching ruler in waist sheaths - just like a samurai! If it ever comes down to it, I'd pick her over Karyn in a fight, any day.
All evening was spent staging the ceremony for tomorrow and rehearsing it. Olivia was sitting in the back, watching it all with a boat drink. Then she was joined by the Priest from the Temple of Crom. But hey! They didn't heckle us, so that's a good thing.
This morning was going along smoothly, last minute details were being wrapped up, and then Thomas showed up. He had a big thick three-ring binder filled with sermon ideas and suggestions for me.
"Thank you, Thomas," I said, "but I think I'm good."
But he was ALL worked up, "You can't just stick your hand into a hat and pull out an idea! A sermon has to be properly thought out."
"Thank you Thomas, but I'm not delivering a sermon today. This is a dedication, I'm going to be speaking about the services that we'll have to offer, but thank you, really."
Olivia asked, "Hey Thomas - when was the last time you had any shut eye?"
"It's been awhile - but there's no time - so much to do!"
"Thomas, there's time and you need sleep," I said.
"No, no - no time," he insisted. Olivia threw a sleep spell at him - and it did nothing! I kept him distracted (which wasn't hard to do) while she tried again. And again - it didn't do a thing!
He was babbling about something and I grabbed him by the arm and shook him, "Thomas! We're good - now go take ten in one of the retreat cells."
"No! Really all I need is a little more ginseng tea."
I tried to nix that but Olivia said, "Good idea! I'll have one of my girls bring you some." But I heard her whisper to the girl to bring some chamomile tea instead. Double strength.
Thomas continued to go on with one idea after another for the ceremony until Olivia's girl brought the tea. He took it and remembered to absently thank her for it. He took a sip and almost instantly sagged.
I directed him to a pew and Olivia rescued the teacup.
He looked up at me and said, "I love you."
"Thank you, dear."
"The way the sunlight shines thru your golden hair," he said.
"Ahh. That's sweet."
He grabbed my hand, "Don't marry him!"
"It's too late," I told him
"It's not too late!"
"Yes, it is - I have a dress."
"But you can't marry him - he's just a Human!"
"Yes, I know that, but I have a plan that I'm working on. Besides - I love him."
"He doesn't deserve you!"
"Some would argue that fact," I said.
Olivia giggled some more.
"But he'll be dead in forty - fifty years."
"Thank you for reminding me, Thomas," I was getting unamused.
"I'll be waiting for you."
Olivia jumped in, "What about me?"
Thomas tried to bring her into focus, "You you are a bad influence on her!"
This time, I giggled.
Thomas continued, "Yes! A bad influence - but you would look good in some black leather. And a red leather corset. And kittycat ears."
And with that image scorched into my unconscious, he passed out. I got Colonel Daria's attention and she had a couple people take him to a retreat cell.
Olivia turned to her girl, "What did you put in that tea?"
"I couldn't find any chamomile and your assistant asked what I needed it for and then she gave me a bottle of something. I didn't hurt him did I?"
Olivia said, "I don't know - what was in the bottle?"
The girl handed it over - liquid Valium.
I said, "Note to self - have shot of go-juice ready when I wake him up."
Olivia assured the girl that all was fine and sent her to return the bottle to Karyn but Karyn was right there, "Did it work?" she asked.
"Boy did it work. Thomas was baring his soul," I said.
"Good think Leo isn't here, yet," Olivia laughed. Then she noticed that Jim's news crew (who was there to cover the dedication) had been setting up when Thomas arrived and had apparently caught the whole thing on tape.
"So do you guys think I'd look good in leather?" Olivia asked them.
Karyn sort of 'moved' Olivia aside so she could have a discussion with the crew. A discussion that included the cameraman being lifted off the floor by his throat. But they finally saw reason and while Karyn hovered over them they rewound the tape to the point where Thomas appeared, then she walked around with them while they filmed over that section of tape. Another victory for the Darth Vader school of Personnel Management.
"Thank you Karyn."
Olivia had lunch sent in for everyone and we made sure that everyone took some time to eat it.
"Thank you Olivia."
Then it was time. I changed into my brand new (not 'borrowed' from a warehouse) vestments and Olivia changed into something 'more appropriate' to greet any VIP's who might show up and Slash joined her, "Wouldn't miss it for the world," she said.
So they stationed themselves on the red carpet to greet everyone. Almost everyone I invited came! I noticed, however, that Lord Mirage was rather conspicuously absent. Even the Dwarven construction crew had accepted my invitation and was lined up in the back, looking sullen yet pleased with themselves.
I went to wake Thomas and found him up and moving; someone (Karyn? Probably) had sent him a cup of coffee with some go juice in it. He was embarrassed and wouldn't look at me, I decided to help him by not mentioning the incident, but Olivia (finished with the meet and greet) walked by and "meowed" at him. He blushed even more and left to take his place with the other clergy.
I peeked out and saw a full house. Karyn was fretting and speaking to her security people. And there was a lot of security! There were Karyn's people, plus every VIP had at least one protector. And Olivia was on the lookout, too. Like me, she remembered Michael and Vesta's wedding, all too vividly.
But then it was time to start. The choir entered singing the opening hymn and everything just felt right. It felt 'settled'. I began the consecration and asked Corellon for His Blessing. There was a pause and I Felt Him thinking. He said, "It's a little plain."
"It's a far cry from my first altar out in the woods " I said.
And the whole Cathedral was filled with a golden light.
Now that the place was Blessed, I thanked Olivia for the space, the Dwarves for all their hard work and, "Hiram - where ever you are, I thank you for the finances." Then I outlined some of the services that we would offer and those that we hope to offer soon.
Everything went smoothly and before I knew it, it was all over and everyone was in the lobby for an informal reception. Lots of schmoozing but there were some good friends there to make it easier (Rodrick and Allison, Jim, Alfred, Caesar, Binion and Venetian) they had questions about the school and the shelters. Fr. Matthew was there, too and I spent some time discussing some projects with him. I told him I had an idea to get supplies for other daycare centers from the parts of town that are being destroyed to build the security wall.
"How will you do that?" he asked.
"I hope that if I mention it to the correct person, it will get done, trust me."
Things slowed down and thinned out and Olivia and I took the opportunity to invite Allison to the next quilting circle - tonight.
"Quilting?" she asked. "Isn't that a little 'girlie'?"
"Hey! We both used to do a lot of our own sewing," I said.
Olivia said, "I'm a sociopath, not a tomboy."
"Quilting?" she repeated.
"Quilting," Olivia said.
"Quilting with the Powers That Be?" I said.
Finally, the light went on. "Oh-h-h-h-h. What would I wear?"
"Something comfortable," I told her.
When it came time to go to the Stratosphere, Allison rode over with us. She was really nervous and the sight of the Cat guards made it worse. One of them nodded to her and said, "Lady Paris, welcome."
"Oh! That's me!"
Before we were shown upstairs we were led to a new security feature - a pane of glass. We were directed to stand behind it (one at a time) and the glass turned into an x-ray screen that shows everything on the body behind it. Weapons show as being red and Olivia's implants (which caused some consternation) showed up as yellow. Then there was Allison's IUD. She was embarrassed and the Cats were confused. "What is that? Doesn't that impede your...functioning? Doesn't it...itch?"
Allison stammered out an explanation and they let us pass. But outside the door to the Binion's quilting room there was another Cat and she was wearing some oversized dark glasses. She had each of us stop and gave us a good long look from top to bottom.
"X-ray glasses?" I asked.
"Yes," and she gave them to me to take a look - very cool!
Olivia took a peek thru them and said, "Very nice - you should give them to doctors."
"There are only a few of them, but one pair was given to the OB ward at the hospital. They've been tested and found safe for pregnant women." She took he glasses back and held the door for us to enter.
I whispered to Allison, "Stick with us - we'll introduce you."
An older woman that I remembered from last week - the organist form St. Joan's - kind of took Allison under her wing and got her started on a piece. Binion showed up later and the 'real' chitchat began. There was a lot of concern about the baby-selling issue.
"If one person was doing it - the same thought will occur to others," Binion said. When that subject had run its course I dropped my idea about having the work crews look for usable items for day care centers.
"Good idea," Binion said. "We already had the old daycare centers and schools cleaned out, but we never thought to look in homes."
"There should be lots of furniture, toys and playground equipment out there for the taking," I said.
"Not to mention clothes, bottles, all that kind of stuff," Olivia added.
Then one of the Cats asked about the capacity of the women's shelter.
"It could be just about as big as it needs to be," Olivia said. "The only real limitation would be staffing."
"That could be taken care of by having the women do some of the work. Some cooking, some cleaning, helping in the crèche'," I said. "I'm more worried about medical personnel. Having doctors and nurses on call for the births, the newborns and anyone who comes in battered or ill."
Olivia suggested that I put out the word that I need help.
"Could I offer them room and board as payment?" I asked her and she readily agreed. Then she asked if Overlords might need such a facility.
Binion said, "Something like that would only happen once. There is a certain level of physicality in our relationships but "
"Like the Klingons," Olivia said.
An older Cat said, "If someone were to hit a female Overlord they would find that we are generally stronger than the males, but it could happen. Perhaps we should make accommodations. Our culture is still developing, after all."
Olivia continued, "And it is not unheard of for men to be the battered one, but that would call for a separate facility."
"Yes, that would be best," Binion agreed.
"Councilors," Olivia said, "we need councilors for the shelter."
"I'll include that in the plea for help," I said.
"Then that leaves the matter of laws," Olivia said.
"There is Thunderdome for that," a Cat said.
"But battered women are not capable of that. Physically or psychologically," I said.
"If they were - they wouldn't be in a battered women's shelter," Olivia said. "In the old days, someone would gather evidence and it would be presented against the batterer. And now we can simplify it all, question her under a truthspell then question him under a truthspell - find out who's telling the truth."
"But Thunderdome was instituted for such situations."
"Thunderdome is not always appropriate and 'we' can take care of these things - efficiently and quietly," Olivia said. Binion was quiet as she pondered for a few minutes, then she got up and got her copy of The Law. "While you have that out - what does it say about crimes against children?" Olivia asked.
"That's easy. The State takes care of their interests."
I said, "That's the way is used to be, except the State would take care of the interests of all victims."
"And now, Thunderdome allows victims to obtain justice," Binion said.
Olivia explained that might doesn't make right, using the Hobbit and Dominic as an example.
Binion said, "It's always within the purview of Lord Las Vegas Hilton to decide a case but until now we've always let justice take its course."
"But sometimes justice needs some help. There will always be those who simply can not obtain justice on their own - that doesn't mean that they don't deserve justice, does it?" I asked.
Olivia nodded, "Frontier justice was okay for awhile, but you need to think long term."
"Thunderdome was created to force negotiations between people," Binion said.
I tried another approach, "You're trying to build a real community here - and that's an admirable goal - but if you want to reach that goal - Thunderdome can't continue."
"Before, justice didn't always work. There were problems," Olivia said.
"But there was nothing to make people be truthful," I said. "But now - measures can be taken to ensure that no one can twist the truth to what they want."
"There is such a thing?" Binion asked.
Olivia handed Binion her Truth ring and had her ask some questions - some she answered truthfully and others she didn't.
Binion handed the ring back and said, "This is good but we would need something larger." Someone suggested a room that would have the same effect and that other people would be able to 'see' the effect. Then other ideas were bounced around and Binion asked, "Are any of these things possible?"
"I don't know why not," I said.
Olivia told them, "I may be able to come up with something."
"We would need many of them," Binion's said.
"If I figure out how to make one, I can instruct others how to create more," Olivia said and she explained how the creation of Magical items takes so much out of those who create them.
Binion thought for a moment and asked, "How do those people from New Ectopia manage to make so many things?"
That's all they do," I said. "Up there you're either a Mage or your pretty much a slave to the Mages."
Olivia theorized that maybe they have found a way to tap into outside sources of Power, ley lines and nodes - lots of other Mercedes Lackey stuff - and then the idea of pyramid power.
One of Binion's guards said, "Huh!" and left the room. She came back shortly, carrying a laptop computer and what looked like a PDA.
"You may have answered a question," she said. She opened the lap top, did some typing, and then turned PDA on. She walked over and waved it over Olivia. It started beeping and whistling. The guard looked at its screen and compared it to something on the laptop. "That's what this thing does! It measures levels of magic."
Binion said, "We've been trying to figure out what those things are ever since they were found." The security Cat turned the laptop around and it displayed a state map with lines and stuff on it.
Olivia pointed to where some of the lines intersected, "See here - this is probably a node." (It was out in the old Nevada Test Range.)
"Would you be adverse to checking it out?" Binion asked.
Looking at the map, there was another nexus north of Reno, really pretty much in the middle of nowhere with no roads leading to it. "Maybe I can scry those, see if anything's there," Olivia thought out loud.
"You'll report back to us next week?" Binion 'asked'.
The security Cat agreed to give us a print out of the map and Binion said, "But back to the law. How do you think we should change it?"
"I'd begin with an alternative to Thunderdome," I said.
"But it's so popular."
"But not always appropriate - you must consider the crime and the victim involved," I said.
Olivia said, "Like in the case of children. But in the meantime what if abusers and batterers just showed up - dead?"
Binion gave her a 'look'; "We do try to keep a low profile."
"And you've done a good job," I said. "I know we never guessed."
Binion smiled an evil little smile; "Some male prejudices are universal." Then she asked, "Any new business?"
An older lady, Human - Gladys, I think her name was - said, "Yes. I really think that we should consider a tactical nuclear strike on Reno. We need to look for a wholesale solution to the problem not a piecemeal one." She went on to say something about prevailing winds reducing the danger of the spread of radiation but I was way too busy not choking on a finger-sandwich to catch it all.
"What about all the innocent people who will be killed?" Olivia asked.
"There are always innocents," Gladys said with a sniff.
"But that doesn't mean you can just slaughter them!" I said.
Olivia agreed, "That's considerably more collateral damage than even we're used to. But maybe we could manage to create a large scale Pain Web spell and then attach that to a tactical device."
"Ummmmm, innocents?" I reminded.
But Gladys was insistent. "We need to consider the whole corrupt system. We can keep cutting off heads - and they'll keep coming up with more snakes."
Olivia said, "I am tired of hired assassins - I believe Morty is still alive, damn him." They all looked at her like she was crazy.
"They have no idea who Morty is," I whispered to her. Olivia explained about Muerte and the perceived threat he posed.
Gladys seized upon him as an example, "See! We can send in personnel - but a tactical nuke is the only real answer."
"You have got to be kidding," I said (hopefully).
Olivia asked, "Is there any intelligence on the setup there?"
Gladys said, "There are about a dozen major 'families' and a dozen or so minor ones."
"Not what I meant - we knew that," Olivia said. "The debt slaves they keep - are they kept in one area of the city or are they spread out?"
"They are scattered around town, depending on the 'family' that they're indebted to."
"So getting the word and to warn them could be a problem."
"Quite, the major 'families' have setups that are almost like feudal fortresses."
Olivia commented that it was too bad that Thor's Hammer was no longer available - and then she had to explain what that was all about.
Binion said, "Reno is presenting a threat, if not a serious one, an annoying one. Let's take it under advisement, for now."
Everything wound down and it was time to go home. When the three of us were in the car I asked if anyone else was disturbed by the Cats so casually discussing the use of nuclear weapons.
Allison said, "Why don't they just go in? It worked here and there are plenty of Cats to go around."
"It's better than nuking them," I said. "And they supposedly have a problem with Cats who have no domain, this would give them a whole new city - it might cut down on the backstabbing."
"Good idea, Allison," and Olivia called Binion to pass it on.
"Well that would be an idea," she admitted. "I suppose we should have thought of that."
"There would be a smaller body count," Olivia pointed out.
"And it would provide more opportunities for the lesser Overlords," I added.
"Yes, it probably could do that. Would you two be interested in joining us?"
Sure, it could be fun," Olivia said, "Jazz?"
"Oh yeah. Fun."
"We'll get a plan together," Binion said.
"Good freaking idea" I thought to myself.
"But not tomorrow," Olivia said, "we have a party all planned."
Binion said, "No, of course not. You don't think we'd just walk into Reno and fake it, do you?"
"Works for us," Olivia told her.
Binion laughed, "Enjoy your party. We'll let you know when we have a plan."
"A plan with no nukes - tactical or otherwise," I encouraged.
Binion said, "They do sound bad."
"And they're multi-generational." Olivia told her. "Have your assistants look up Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They were cities. Once." She hung up, and then we were home.