The CAP: The Chancellors Arrive in Lost Wages
 

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The CAP: The Chancellors Arrive in Lost Wages
by Ladybug

“I can’t believe this place!” Astraea breathed, looking around at the spectacular sights of Lost Wages.

“Pretty lights,” Nan said dreamily, munching on a cookie. They all swirled around so nicely. She wondered how they managed to do that.

“Let’s get down to business,” Hebea said, rubbing her hands together.

“Business? Are you nuts?” Astraea said. “I wanna hit some blackjack tables!”

“That’s exactly what I meant.” Hebea was impatient. “Autolycus and I will scope the place and find the weakest dealers.” They ran off to do their job.

“I must check into my room,” said O.M.A.R. “It is imperative that I unpack.” His big trunk was silent and immobile, and he looked worried.

“You do that. Get us all checked in and we’ll pick up the keys later. Let’s go, Nan.” Astraea took the chancellor by the arm and towed her off to the slot machines.

“Are we going to play now?” Nanaea asked.

“Yes, dear. We’ll get lots of shiny coins to put in the pretty machines.”

“Coins!” Nan said happily, tears in her dilated eyes. “I like it here!”

O.M.A.R. took his luggage up to his room and immediately undid the trunk’s latches. Rose came out, gasping. “I thought I’d never be out of there!” she said, breathing deeply.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“I am now,” she said. “Give me a hand, won’t you?” As she put her hand in his, their eyes locked and they stood frozen for a moment. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

At that point O.M.A.R.’s secondary programming protocol kicked in and he grabbed her for a long kiss. Rose was surprised at first, but tried to remember all her friends had taught her, and responded as best as she could.

“I need to freshen up,” she said, breaking away and taking some clothes into the bathroom to change. She looked at herself in the mirror. “Careful, Ladybug,” she said to her reflection. “You’re here to do a job. Keep them distracted until this whole thing is over, and the scrolls are yours. Stay focused.”

They all met for dinner that night at the all-you-can-eat crab legs buffet in the hotel restaurant.

“I hate to go to all these conference sessions tomorrow,” Nanaea said. “So many shiny coins, so little time.”

“I’m having fun too. You know, it’s too bad there isn’t somebody who can go for us and take notes, like we did when we took classes at Deb U.”
Astraea then stopped, deep in thought. “Wait a minute. Are you guys thinking what I’m thinking?”

“I think so.” Hebea glanced down the table, where Rose and O.M.A.R. were sitting close together and feeding crab to each other.

“Ladybug dear,” Astraea called. “Now that you’ve smuggled your way into our trip, we’ve decided what must be your penance.”

“Yes, Chancellor,” said the CA penitently.

Astraea frowned. That was a little too easy. Ladybug was always more uppity than that. But oh well, take a good thing while you’ve got it. “We’ve decided that you must attend the sessions for us and take notes, summarize and present us with the condensed information at our leisure. Is that understood?”

“But I was--”

“You’re not supposed to be here.”

“I know, but we had plans to--”

“You have to do this or we’ll send you straight home!” She was firm.

“I guess I don’t have a choice.” Rose gulped. If she got sent home, there would be no one to distract the chancellors from the business that was going on at home. She would fail her mission.

“Good, it’s settled then.” Astraea smiled.

“I propose a toast!” Nan declared, waving her big drink around so much that the little umbrella fell out of it. “Here’s to the chancellors!”

“To the chancellors!” they all echoed, clinking glasses.

“To Ernestus Hemlock,” Rose murmured, sipping her drink. “And to your downfall.”

Posted on Aug 27 1999, 11:05 AM

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