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  1. Chapter 7: Who Run the World? Max stood in the courtyard of the temple. He watched as people slowly walked and spoke in hushed tones to each other, some working in a communal garden tending the soil. He could look out through the temple gates and see the peaks of the Himalayas stretching out before him. And he also saw her. The beautiful woman with the silver hair, wrapped in white silks. She strode briskly through the courtyard and went down a stone stair way. Max followed after her, trying his best to keep up. He reached the bottom of the stairway to find the woman had disappeared. Candles lit the way and corridors branched out before him. Max could hear a grunt of exertion coming from the left and turned. A large oak door was open just a crack to allow the sound to escape. He peeked around the door to see the woman, shadow boxing and throwing kicks. She leapt into the air and combat rolled back to crouch. She froze suddenly, then quickly turned her head to the door where Max was. Max jumped back in surprise, grabbing a hold of the door. “Sorry! Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you.” The woman rose to her feet, and looked up and down at her visitor. “Brother Max, isn’t it? You are one of the new acolytes. You arrived two weeks ago, correct?” Max nodded. “Yes, Sister Dansen. I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” Dansen raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “How do you know my name?” “I… was asking around. I saw you when the guides brought us here. Some of the other brothers told me.” Dansen turned her back to Max, and started going through kata poses. “And just what need would you have for knowing my name?” Max took a step in the training room. “I don’t know. I figure if I was going to talk to you, it might be nice to know your name first.” Dansen continued her practice, throwing a few thrust kicks towards the wall. “I would prefer you not to listen to other peoples gossip to learn about me, Brother Max.” “Fair. Soooo, how about you tell me about you yourself instead?” Dansen nearly lost her balance. She looked at the smiling Max in disbelief. “You are certainly persistent, Brother Max.” Max shrugged and walked onto the mat. “Hey, it’s a gift. So, why not? Where you from? How’d you join the Family of Kali?” Dansen went back to her kicks. “We are allowed to talk of such things. Nothing exists before we found the embrace of Kali.” “Come on. It’s just you and me. Why not?” Dansen paused for a moment, then continued her kicks. Max looked at her for a moment, then moved to her side. “How about this; how about we do some sparring? You and me. If I can take you to the ground, you have answer a question about your past life. You take me the ground, you can ask me anything about mine.” Dansen rolled her eyes. “Really, Brother Max. That is simply childish. I would never play games like that.” Max gave a knowing smile. “Especially if you thought you were going to lose.” Dansen froze again, and turned to Max. “I assure you, Brother Max. You would never pin me down.” Max took a fighting position, still grinning. “Prove it.” A faint smile flashed on Dansen’s face as she mirrored Max’s stance. “Shroud!” Shroud’s memories were interrupted by the sound of Dansen’s voice. He turned on the cushion he sat cross legged on to face her. “Yes, Dansen? Anything to report?” Danesn walked into the meditation space and stood to Shroud’s right. “Misfit, Digger, and Hangman are making the rounds picking up our cut from the gangs. Needle, Tick Tock and the Brothers are looking for any new leads on the Headmen.” “And what about Moth? Is she on her way?” Dansen gave a sharp exhale. “Yes, her and Russell were driven by Tatterdemalion a half hour ago.” Shroud turned away and closed his sightless eyes. “You don’t approve of my forcing her to go?” “I don’t believe it was necessary. Moth and the others would be more useful in the field then…” “Russell has still been on edge ever since you rescued us from the Headmen. And it would be good for both him and Moth to be out of the Tower for a while. And Tatter can keep an eye on them.” Dansen stared at the meditating Shroud. “Why did you send Tatterdemalion? If Moth was correct, then there shouldn’t be any trouble. Unless you have sensed something more to it?” Shroud took a deep breath and folded his hands together. “Simply a precaution, Dansen. I’m sure they will have a relaxing evening for a change.” “This sucks,” moaned Moth. She and Jack were in the backseat of a limo being driven by Tatterdemalion in chauffeur attire. As for themselves, Jack was dressed a black suit and blue tie, while Moth wore a blue sun dress. The limo passed through ornate gates and followed a winding drive way to the front door of a extravagant mansion. “I don’t believe this is happening,” she went on. “Just relax,” said Jack. “It’s just a party. You’re friend invited you. Nothing to get worked up over.” Moth shot Jack a glare. “You don’t know this girl. Lorina Dodson is barely an acquaintance. I had to put up with her parties all the time when I was with Jason in New York. I don’t know how she found my address here. And I have no clue why Shroud would make me come here!” “Well, if it’s any consolation, you do look very charming, Moth,” Tatterdemalion said smugly. Moth stared daggers at Tatter. “1: it’s no consolation. 2: you can’t say anything without sound like a creep. So 3: shut up.” Tatter shrugged and turned back to the wheel. “You do look great though,” said Jack. Moth opened her mouth to say something, then just sighed. “Let’s just get this over with.” Jack exited the car and held the door open for Moth. “I’ll be listening through the ear buds,” Tatter said. “I’ll enter if there’s any trouble.” “Thanks, mother,” Moth snarked. The limo drove back down the drive way to where similarly expensive looking cars were parked. Jack and Moth walked up the steps to the door. They could hear the bass of loud music drifting from the backyard. Jack rang the doorbell, and Moth adjusted her dress. Then she used her power to cause the hem of the dress to rise until it had morphed into a skirt. She nodded in satisfaction, then glanced up at Jack, who was enthralled by the new outfit. Moth grinned. “Now, I look great.” Jack was about to agree when the door of the mansion swung open. A woman with red hair dressed in a pink crop top and yoga pants stood before them. “Sybby!” she squealed. She gave a bear hug to Moth, who looked toward Jack with a piteous expression. “Hi, Lorina,” she said, desperately trying to sound enthusiastic. “Oh my god! I’m so glad you could make it!” Lorina rambled on. “I thought you had said something about moving out west! When I managed to find the address to the apartment, I just knew I had to invite my bestie!” Lorina released the hug, then gave a suggestive look to Jack. “And who’s your boyfriend?” “I’m… Jack.” “And he’s not my boyfriend!” Moth and Jack shot each other an awkward look. Lorina chuckled. “My, my, my. Curiouser and curiouser. Well, don’t worry, Sybby. I won’t steal your man. That’s what this whole party’s about! Come on in!” Lorina led them through the entryway and down the hall that lead toward the sounds of cheers and music. “Um, Lorina, what do you mean? What is the party about?” asked Moth. “My engagement, silly Sybby! Today I’m going to introduce all my friends to the man of my dreams!” Jack cleared his throat. “Congratulations. Where is he?” “Oh, he’ll be here in a little while. Good thing you two made it in time. You were almost late!” Lorina pushed the glass doors open to reveal the spacious backyard. A DJ stood at his equipment blasting pop music while Lorina’s guests danced, chatted, and swam in the pool. Jack’s eyes widened at the sight of some of the guests wearing rabbit masks. “You’re friend… er… Lorina sure throws an interesting party,” he said, waving aside a server offering a plate of hors d’oeurvres. “Jason dragged me to every one of them,” Moth muttered under her breath. “Lorina always has have some stupid “Alice in Wonderland” gimmick. Bunch of privileged pricks making small talk. It’s a miracle I didn’t became a thief sooner.” “Hey, take it easy,” said Jack. “You were able to save me from a mad scientist. I’m sure you can handle a party full of 1%-ers.” Moth was about to reply, when she was interrupted by a high pitched whine. Lorina had grabbed a microphone from the DJ. “Helloooo, everyone! Is everybody having a good time?” Cheers and applause rang out from the crowd. “Of course you are! Everyone knows my parties are always lit! But this one is going to be the best ever! Because I know you’ve been hearing the rumors, and I’ve thrown this party to tell you all… they’re true! I’m gonna get married!” More cheers and shouts of congratulations followed. “Thank you! Thank you! I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world! And I want to take this moment in time to introduce you to the man of my dreams! Come on out, honey!” The partygoers turned to the house where Lorina was pointing. The backdoor opened and the crowd gasped. Trudging into the backyard was a creature that resembled a 6 foot tall ape. The guests backed away as the creature walked past, it’s knuckles dragging on the floor. It reached the DJ booth, and Lorina wrapped her arms around it. “Isn’t he beautiful? Don’t be too jealous, girls!” Jack turned to Moth as the crowd started murmuring. “You said she was strange, but has she done anything like this?” “Hell no,” Moth replied. “Something’s not right.” “Is this some kinda joke, Lorina?” a male guest shouted. “What’s with the monkey?” Lorina looked insulted as she held the creature to her. “He’s not a monkey! He’s the man of my dreams!” She looked to the rest of the crowd. “Come on, ladies. You understand, don’t you? How could I resist a guy like this?” There was more murmuring and some laughter from the men, when suddenly one of the women who had been swimming in the pool started walking towards the booth. “Yes, Lorina!” she shouted. “He is beautiful! Let me get close to him too!” “Yes, Miss Dodson!” called out one of the servers, tossing her tray to the ground and running toward the booth. “Don’t keep him all to yourself! It isn’t fair!” To the amazement of the men, the other women in the backyard started moving toward the creature and Lorina. Jack stared at the scene in confusion. “Moth, I think we need to get going… Moth?!” He turned to see Moth slowly stepping toward the crowd. Jack grabbed her arm to hold her back. “Moth, what are you doing?” He could see the blank look in Moth’s eyes. She struggled to free herself from his grip. “I need to go him! Don’t you see? He’s so amazing! Let me go to him!” Jack dragged Moth toward the back door. “Moth, we need to go now!” “Hey!” shouted Lorina. “You can’t leave! My party isn’t over yet!” The creature gave a low growl. Lorina tilted her head as if she could understand. “Oh. Alright, dear. Now, ladies, my man says its time for a little party game.” She reached underneath the DJ’s table and pulled out a box. She lifted the lid, reached in and pulled out a knife in each hand. She carefully handed a knife to each of the women as the men shouted in confusion. “Okay, Lori, jokes over!” “Come on, Jackie! Get back here!” “We’re leaving now!” Lorina calmly held the microphone and looked to the now armed women. “Okay, girls. Time to play my fiancé’s game. Kill ‘em all!” The women spun around and giving a scream charged into the men, blades slashing. The men ran and shouted in alarm, but many were cut down and sent falling into the pool or fell bleeding on the walkway. Some managed to make it to the hedge on the edge of the backyard. They clambered up to try to escape. But the first man to reach the top of the edge was sent falling back into Lorina’s backward, with his head detached. Behind the hedge stood a row of Asian men in turbans and robes, and armed with long swords. Jack and Moth had made it inside, Jack still dragging Moth behind him. “Jack! Jack, slow down!” said Moth holding her head. “What are you doing?” “I’m trying to keep you from falling in love with a monkey,” Jack snapped, taking a second to recognize how ridiculous that statement was before continuing toward the door. The door swung open to reveal more men with swords. They filed into the lobby and brandished them towards Jack and Moth. The pair backed up towards a staircase as Jack muttered under his breath. “Tatter, we need you now!” Giving a cry the swordsmen charged toward them. Moth leapt into the air, letting her outfit be molded to form a set of wings for herself. Jack ducked the first swordsman and ducked into a side room. He moved a bookcase in front of the door and put his back to it. “Ok,” he gasped for breath as he heard the sound of someone banging on the door. “Not a full moon, but I could sure use some help here.” He ran to a window and pulled back the curtains. The waxing moon had finally broken through the clouds. Moth flew over the swordsman, causing the sashes that two of them were wearing to tie together and slam them into each other. Tatterdemalion, rushing to put on his scarf, burst into the entryway, and leveled two more swordsmen. “Is this what you young people do at parties like this?” he snarked. “Oh shut up!” Moth yelled, delivering a kick to swordsman’s face. “You need to get to the backyard! There’s some creature in there with Lorina! I think it’s controlling her and the other girls!” “What about Russell?” There was the sound of crashing wood, howling and screaming. “He’s fine!” Moth snapped. “Now move it!” OK: Tatterdemalion, Moth, and Werewolf by Night (Waxing moon so he’s slightly less strong.) Mandrill has control of a dozen women, plus is backed up by 20 Thugee. Game On!

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