Summary: 2015, seven years after Cierre’s meeting with NCIS in ‘The King of Elfland’s Daughter’, and trade between Earth and Faerûn is growing. A Texan 'American Idol' winner is asked to play at a USAF base – and finds herself sent to another planet, performing to magic-using aliens, with a genuine Drow as her gun-toting bodyguard. With the local bards determined to remove the competition, by violence if necessary, she's going to need that bodyguard right from the start.
They disembarked from the bus and walked through the massive blast doors into the Cheyenne Mountain complex. Soldiers halted the roadies and insisted on carrying out a thorough check of the instrument cases, even looking inside the drums, before allowing them to proceed.
“I was expecting Afghanistan,” Kelly remarked. “I never figured on performing in an underground bunker. I hope the acoustics don’t suck. Uh, unless there’s a tunnel through the center of the world and we’re going to Afghanistan after all?”
“No, there is no tunnel, ma’am,” Colonel Davis replied, “and the performance won’t be in Afghanistan. You’ll get the full explanation, and the guided tour, once we’re inside the base.”
“You calling me ‘ma’am’ makes me feel old,” Kelly protested, giving him a warm smile. “Hey, ain’t this the place that movie ‘Wargames’ was about? Where the computer tried to start a nuclear war?”
“I assure you nothing like that could happen these days,” Colonel Davis assured her.
“If you say so, Colonel.” Kelly’s Texas accent, usually almost imperceptible, showed strongly in the way she said ‘Colonel’. She followed him into the elevator, as did the members of her backing band, and saw the roadies and technicians being escorted into a separate elevator car. Then Colonel Davis pressed the elevator button.
“Twenty-eight floors down?” Kelly exclaimed. “Are you sure we’re not going to Afghanistan by way of the Earth’s core?”
“I think that would be a little more than twenty-eight floors, Kelly,” the bass guitarist said.
“Yeah, I reckon,” said Kelly, “but it’s still a long ways down. Kind of puzzling. I wouldn’t have thought there’d be room down at the bottom of this mountain for much of an arena. And, for what the military is paying us, it would have to be a big audience for it to be worthwhile. Which is a bummer ‘cause, like you told us, we’ve only brought the cut-down crew we’d use for an Unplugged performance.”
“The audience will be quite large, and you don’t need to worry about the acoustics,” Colonel Davis assured her. “All will be revealed once we reach the SGC.” The elevator reached the bottom and the doors opened. “And we’re here.”
They filed out, joined a moment later by the roadies emerging from the other elevator with the instrument cases, and were led through corridors to a large office. The wall opposite the door was lined with windows but they revealed only drab metal shutters. Several people, most of them in military fatigues, waited within.
Kelly’s eyebrows rose at the sight of one of those people. A tall, dark-skinned, woman who seemed out of place in this setting; in fact she’d seem out of place anywhere except ComicCon. Not that Kelly had ever been to the event, it wasn’t really her thing, but she’d seen pictures online. Enough to recognize the woman as a Cosplay practitioner made up as some sort of Dark Elf, maybe a Night Elf from World of Warcraft, and it was a really superb make-up job. Her skin must have been stained with black dye; Kelly had never seen anyone, not even the Somali super-model Alek Wek, with such dark skin and yet it seemed too natural to be body-paint. The woman had white hair, sleek and straight, no doubt a high-quality wig. Her eyes were yellow, like those of a lion, and that meant she had to be wearing contact lenses. And she had Spock ears so well done that they looked real. Even the make-up in the Lord of the Rings movies hadn’t achieved such a convincing job of appearing natural. The whole effect was rendered jarringly incongruous by the military fatigues she wore, the trucker cap bearing the legend ‘NCIS’ that was perched on her head, and the machine-gun slung over her shoulder; the sword at one hip, fitting in perfectly with the Dark Elf make-up, made the incongruity even greater.
“Wow!” the bass guitarist muttered. “I guess the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has changed the military even more than we thought.”
Kelly realized that she was staring and hastily averted her eyes. She saw that the others in the military group were fairly striking in their own right. The one who stood out most was a huge African-American guy, a good six foot four or so, who had a strange golden symbol on his forehead that seemed to be embedded in the flesh somehow. There were two women, both tall and good-looking, one of them a blonde in Air Force uniform and the other a black-clad brunette with blonde streaks in her hair. There was an extremely handsome man, too old for Kelly but still hot, who somehow looked to Kelly much more like a professor or a teacher than a military man. And, last but obviously not least, there was a two-star Air Force general in full uniform. He rose to his feet as they entered.
“Miss Clarkson, ladies and gentlemen,” the general greeted them, “I’m Major-General Hank Landry and I welcome you to Stargate Command.”
“Stargate Command?” Kelly echoed his words, as did all the band members and roadies, the different timings and intonations making it sound like the first rehearsal of a chorus.
The general smiled and pressed a button on his desk. The shutters blocking the view through the windows slid away to reveal a large space like an aircraft hangar. Dominating that area was a strange ring-shaped structure at the top of a ramp. It was obvious from its position that people, or vehicles, were intended to pass through it but, puzzlingly, behind it was only a solid concrete wall.
“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Stargate,” announced the general. “It’s the reason why you’ve all had to sign non-disclosure agreements before you were admitted to the base. As to what it is, and what it does, I’ll leave it to Dr. Jackson to explain.”
“Certainly, General,” said the handsome non-military guy. He turned to face the band. “It all began in 1928…”
“We’re going to Outer Space? We’re going to play on another planet?” Kelly shook her head. “I don’t believe it.”
“It is true, nonetheless,” said the big African-American guy. His voice was deep and resonant. “And in doing so you will be doing your own planet a great service.”
“I still say we should have invited Snow Patrol,” said the tall girl with the Elf ears, “but you will make an adequate substitute. The lyrics of your songs contain sentiments that will be popular with the denizens of Faerûn.”
“Faerûn?” the bass guitarist queried. “That’s a game-world for Dungeons and Dragons. This has to be some kind of joke.”
“Yeah,” Kelly said. “It’s a reality TV thing, right? A set-up. If we go along with it the guys from ‘Jackass’, or somebody like, will pop up and do the reveal and we’ll all look like idiots.”
“I assure you, Miss Clarkson,” said General Landry, “the United States Air Force would not be party to a practical joke for a TV show. Still less would we allow the Cheyenne Mountain complex to be used for such a purpose.” He trained his gaze on the Cosplay Elf. “Cierre, perhaps you could give them a practical demonstration of your… other-worldly nature?”
“As you wish, General,” said Cierre. “Perhaps not a Darkness spell as it would be inconvenient for others. Teal’c, abbil, perhaps you could put yourself at my disposal?”
“Indeed,” said the huge man, nodding, and he moved closer to the girl. She put her hands on his waist and lifted him, effortlessly, into the air.
Kelly felt her mouth drop open. The big guy had to weigh at least two hundred and fifty pounds, probably more, and the girl had handled him as if he weighed no more than an eight-year-old kid. She stared at the air above them, looking for wires that might have been rigged up to take his weight, but saw nothing. It was incredible. Yes, the girl was tall, at least five or six inches taller than Kelly herself, but she wasn’t built like a weightlifter or a pro wrestler. And then Miss Cosplay Elf straightened her arms and held the huge man out in front of her, at arms’ length, in a display of strength that would have been taxing even for The Undertaker. She kept the pose for a good ten seconds before lowering Teal’c – and what kind of name was that, anyway? – back onto his feet.
“Cierre is twice as strong as a male human athlete of her weight,” General Landry said. “Teal’c, who is also from another planet, has exceptional strength too. It’s a little less obvious in his case, of course, as a man his size would be pretty darn strong anyway. Vala Mal Doran is also an alien,” the dark-haired woman waved a hand and smiled, “but she’s genetically identical to humans and doesn’t have any special powers.”
“Other than being smart, and competent at everything, and being able to fly several different types of spaceship,” Vala put in, “and being faster with a gun than anyone except Cierre.”
The general rolled his eyes. “And being completely devoid of any kind of modesty,” he said. “Getting back to the point, Cierre’s ears are quite real.” The corners of his lips turned up in a wry smile. “I’d advise you not to check for yourselves, however. She is somewhat averse to being poked and prodded.”
“I will permit the bard Kelly Clarkson to examine them, General,” Cierre said, “as long as she treats me with due respect.”
Kelly nodded her head vigorously. “Darn right I will,” she said. “I sure don’t need to annoy a girl who can pick up a guy that size like he was a toy.” Not to mention, she added to herself, the sword and the machine-gun; plus, she saw as Cierre came over to her, there was a large pistol holstered at Cierre’s other hip and a hatchet strapped behind it. She was heavily armed even by Texas standards.
Cierre bent forward, presenting her ears for inspection, and Kelly checked them out very gingerly. She touched them gently, felt their flexibility and warmth, and looked for any sign of a join where plastic might have been attached to flesh; she found nothing of the sort.
“They’re real,” she said, in awed tones. “You’re really an Elf.”
“I am Drow,” Cierre said, straightening up. “Cierre, formerly of House Faen Tlabbar, then of Luruar, now known as Cierre LuaLua and employed as a civilian consultant to the US Air Force.”
“Uh, Kelly Clarkson of Fort Worth, Texas,” Kelly said, and then, remembering the way the characters in ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ had talked, added “at your service.”
Cierre smiled, her teeth looking incredibly white in contrast to her jet-black skin, and dipped her head. “You are courteous,” she said. “Indeed you will be a satisfactory alternative to Snow Patrol. I will be your primary bodyguard in Faerûn. You need have no concerns. I will not let any harm befall you.”
“She’s a Drow,” said the bass guitarist. “A real Drow. Uh, vendui, usstan jalil.”
Cierre raised an eyebrow. “You speak Ilythiiri? I am impressed,” she said.
“Uh, just a few phrases,” said the musician, “and most of the others aren’t all that useful. Like, Lolth tlu malla; jal ultrinnan zhah xundus.”
“I would advise you not to say that in Faerûn,” Cierre said. “Lolth is dead and her memory is reviled. I could be compelled to kill someone to save you from getting your throat cut. Even someone on this base, perhaps, for there are three other Drow serving in Stargate Command plus a Dwarf and several Faerûnian humans.”
“Uh, right,” said the bass player. “Wait, Lolth’s dead? Not Eilistraee?”
“Eilistraee lives, and is greatly revered by almost all, even by those such as myself who do not worship her,” Cierre told him. “The base lies and calumnies in Fourth Edition have no foundation in fact.”
The musician’s eyes widened. “I don’t get it. How can there be a real planet that’s a D&D world?”
“There are two competing hypotheses about that,” said the blonde-haired woman. Her uniform bore the silver eagles of a colonel. “The one I originally proposed is that someone from Earth visited the planet before we did – there used to be another Stargate and it was in the hands of… dubious elements for a while – and that person, or persons, went back in time when they returned to Earth. Time travel is possible, through the wormholes, in certain rare circumstances. If it happened like that then the time travelers must have told the people who created Dungeons and Dragons about Faerûn and led them to use the world in their games and novels. The other hypothesis is that the world was created artificially to replicate the world of the stories. It seems incredible, I know, but we’ve encountered beings that might have the power to do such a thing. There is even some corroborating evidence, although not a lot. The truth is we just don’t know.”
“I think my head is going to explode,” Kelly said.
The general chuckled. “Colonel Carter has a doctorate in astrophysics,” he said. “I sometimes feel the same way about her explanations.”
“The important thing,” said Dr. Jackson, “is that you mustn’t say anything about it while you’re there. And don’t talk about religion at all. That’s absolutely vital.”
“They’re down on missionaries, then?” asked the keyboard player.
“We don’t know how they’d react,” Dr. Jackson said, “and frankly we don’t want to take the chance. The gods of Faerûn are Earth’s most important allies in the galaxy and we really, really, want to keep them onside.”
“There’s only one God,” said Kelly, “to quote Captain America.”
“Don’t say that while you’re there,” Dr. Jackson warned. “Some of them have a sense of humor – in fact Shar and Eilistraee have visited Earth and it’s even possible that they’ve seen The Avengers – but some of them don’t and would be insulted. We don’t want that.”
“Shar has been on Earth? And she has a sense of humor? But she’s Evil,” said the bass player.
“She used to be Evil, or so I am informed,” said Dr. Jackson, “but she definitely isn’t now. I’ve met her face to face and she’s charming, witty, and well disposed toward this planet. And she saved my life and, quite possibly, the lives of everyone else on Earth. Don’t go by the things you’ve picked up from Dungeons and Dragons. They’re not accurate and could lead you into saying something that could cause offense.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll watch our mouths,” Kelly said. “You’re sure my songs will be okay? I’d have thought that a world with horses and swords, and that kind of thing, would be more into songs that go ‘hey-nonny-nonny’ and ‘my lady Greensleeves’ and so on.”
“The most popular song in Faerûn is a British song from the Nineties, ‘Sunshine on a Rainy Day’,” Dr. Jackson said, “with ‘Live It Up’, from the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ soundtrack, a close second. Some other people from Earth reached Faerûn before we did and one of them is a pretty good guitarist and singer. He started a Rock and Roll revolution. However he got there in November 2001, as far as we can tell, and anything since then is unknown there. Don’t expect them to know your hits but, as Cierre said, their lyrics should make them attractive to the populace.”
“Hmm,” Kelly mused. “It’s been quite a while since I’ve played to people who’ve never heard of me and don’t know the songs. Maybe we should start the show off with a couple of covers. Can you get me a list of the songs that they’ll know?”
“We should be able to manage that,” Dr. Jackson said.
“If you are doing covers, would you do ‘Let It Go’?” Cierre asked. “I believe it would be pleasing to my goddess.”
“Cierre’s seen ‘Frozen’ at least a dozen times,” the blonde woman, Colonel Carter, put in. “She sings ‘Let It Go’ in the showers. I tried turning the taps to Cold but it didn’t even make her miss a beat.”
“The cold never bothered me anyway,” Cierre said, not quite singing the quote, and laughed.
Colonel Carter grinned at her in response. “See what I mean?”
“Actually, doing ‘Let It Go’ would be a very good idea,” Dr. Jackson put in. “It could help our relationship with… certain factions quite significantly.”
“Sure, we’ll do it,” Kelly agreed. “I’ve sung it in the shower myself. Probably to the point where Brandon thought about turning the water to Cold but he never actually did it.”
“I prefer the Demi Lovato version of ‘Let It Go’ to the Idina Menzel one,” Cierre informed Kelly.
Kelly nodded. “More power-pop than show tune,” she said. “No problem. That’s the arrangement that would suit my style best. I could do ‘Skyscraper’ too, if you like, I did it as a request number on the ‘Stronger’ tour.”
“That is a word, and building style, unknown on Faerûn,” Cierre said. “I find the song acceptable but it might be received with some degree of incomprehension.”
“I guess that’s why you people chose me instead of Demi, right?” Kelly said.
“Perhaps so,” Cierre said. “I am unaware of the reasons behind inviting you rather than Snow Patrol, or Coldplay, or the Arctic Monkeys.”
“I’m kind of seeing a theme here,” Kelly said.
“Indeed,” Teal’c agreed. “Cierre LuaLua has a great fondness for cold weather and snow.”
“You were shortlisted because of your songs, but the final choice was a question of timing,” General Landry said. “Your decision to play a few dates to promote your new album, after your maternity leave, came at exactly the right time to fit our requirements.”
“You know, you probably could have gotten Taylor Swift to do the gig for nothing,” Kelly said. “Just tell her there’s a whole planet full of guys she hasn’t dated yet.”
“You’d have to beat her off with sticks,” one of Kelly’s backing singers added, with a snigger.
“Actually,” Dr. Jackson said, “we have Taylor Swift penciled in as one of the next acts to be invited after you. We saw a video of her singing ‘22’ acoustically, without her band, and were very impressed by her guitar playing and ability to perform without any technical trickery. Do you really think her... predilection for dating a succession of young men will be a problem?”
“Nah,” Kelly said. “I was just kidding. She’s as professional as they come. And she could do more than the one gig because she doesn’t have to rush off home to a husband and baby. Yeah, ask her, she’ll do great.”
The keyboard player raised his hand. “Uh, excuse me,” he said, “but something’s just occurred to me. It isn’t a heavy gravity planet, is it? I mean, the Drow girl being so strong… if it’s because she grew up in twice Earth gravity, well, we could be in trouble.”
Kelly winced. She was comfortable with her weight, and journalist Katie Hopkins’ recent bitchy Twitter comments about it had rolled off her like water off a duck’s back, but she really wouldn’t want to be twice as heavy. It would make her stage act into an ordeal.
“No, you don’t need to worry,” Colonel Carter assured them. “Toril’s gravity is so close to Earth normal that the difference can’t be detected without sensitive instruments. The rotational period is only three seconds longer than our day, the year is the same length as ours to within twenty minutes, and the atmosphere is just like ours but with a little more oxygen and, of course, less pollution. You’ll be perfectly comfortable.”
“I am the strongest of all my people,” Cierre said, “and any feats of strength I can achieve here I can perform in Faerûn just as well.”
“That’s a relief,” Kelly said. “Who else do you have lined up to play on, uh, Faerûn?”
“The British bands Rudimental and the Kaiser Chiefs,” Dr. Jackson told her. “The Foo Fighters. And Pink.”
Kelly nodded approvingly at the first three names, although she only knew Rudimental from one song, but at the last name her face lit up. “Pink? She’s amazing,” she said. “But she’d need a lot of equipment for her full act, with all the high-flying stuff.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Dr. Jackson said, “but it is something of a drawback. It’s one reason why it’s you, instead of her, who we chose to be the first.”
“I might do ‘Perfect’,” Kelly mused. “I’ve been told my version’s pretty good and it would be kinda like laying the groundwork for her. Although maybe it would be more stealing her thunder. I’ll have to think about that. Can you get me that list of the songs people in Faerûn are going to have heard pretty soon? We don’t have much time to rehearse new material, especially if the time we do have is going to be used for ‘Let It Go’, and I’ll have to hope they know some of the numbers I’ve covered on past tours. We might just about have time to give them a single run-through.”
“Of course,” said General Landry. “I’ll have someone show you to the VIP accommodation to freshen up after your trip, and then there’s a meal laid on for you. We’ll have the list by then so that you can look it over as you eat.”
A little while later Kelly was scanning the list of song titles in between forkfuls. “Don’t know that one, don’t know that one, couldn’t do justice to that without spending ages rehearsing,” she said. “Oh, ‘Iris’. Cool. We did that at Salt Lake City.”
“West Valley City,” the lead guitarist corrected her.
“Same difference,” Kelly said. “Anyway, we can do that. Don’t know the next few. Ooh, ‘The Chain’. I’d love to do that. Think we can manage it, guys, or would we need too much time to rehearse?”
“I used to play it with my band in high school,” the bassist said. “Dum, dum-dum dum dum-dum dum-dum-dum dum. I can do it, no problem.”
“I’m not Lindsey Buckingham, but then who is?” said the guitarist. “I’ve played it plenty of times. Totally classic.”
“How about you, Miles?” Kelly asked the drummer. “The combination of bass and drums is the whole engine of that song.”
“I think I can handle it,” he replied. “I’d like a run-through to be sure.”
“We’ll pencil it in provisionally, see how it goes,” Kelly said. “Don’t know this one, or this one. I’ve never even heard of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation.”
Everyone else looked blank except for the drummer. “British blues outfit from the sixties,” he informed Kelly. “Aynsley Dunbar’s reckoned to be one of the best drummers ever. Played with John Mayall, Frank Zappa, Whitesnake, Journey, even Bowie.”
“I’m impressed,” Kelly said, “but I’ve still never heard of the song and I don’t think we’ll do a drum solo. What else? The Who, Pink Floyd… nothing we can do there… The Stones – oh, ‘Wild Horses’. That’s a definite. Ooh, Pat Benatar! ‘Love is a Battlefield’ is great but we don’t really have time – oh, yes! ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. Excellent! We could open with that one. What do you think, guys?”
“That would work,” agreed the keyboard player, who was also the musical director for the band. “I’d go with that.”
“Great,” said Kelly. “We’re really getting somewhere.” She read through the remainder of the list. “There’s a few others I’d like to do, if we had time to do proper arrangements and rehearsals, but nothing else we already know. So, ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’, ‘Wild Horses’, ‘Iris’, ‘Let It Go’, ‘The Chain’ if it works out okay when we give it a run-through, maybe ‘Perfect’, and the existing set list.”
She moved on to a second sheet of paper. “What’s this? Songs that we’re absolutely not to perform? Huh?” She read on. “Runrig, ‘Dance Called America’. Never heard of it. Big Country, ‘Restless Natives’. Big Country, ‘Peace In Our Time’. I’ve heard an Eighties song by them, what was it, ‘In a Big Country’ but I don’t know those ones. The Troggs, ‘Wild Thing’. The Moody Blues, ‘Nice to Be Here’. Rod Stewart, ‘Sailing’. Queen, ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’. Meredith Brooks, ‘Bitch’. Alice Cooper, ‘Poison’. Pink Floyd, ‘Take It Back’ and ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. That’s… weird. Why would their other songs be on the Approved list and those ones be forbidden?”
“Another Brick in the… Wall,” the bass player murmured. “The Wall. Oh shit. It’s real.”
“What is?” Kelly asked.
“The Wall of the Faithless,” he answered.
“You don’t want to know,” the bassist said. He seemed to have gone pale. “Trust me on this, Kelly. You really, really, don’t want to know.”
“Oh?” Kelly raised her eyebrows. “Okay, I’ll take your word for it. U2, ‘Pride (in the Name of Love)’. Another odd one seeing as how ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ and ‘With or Without You’ are approved. A Pat Benatar number? A Pink song? Huh? Guns ‘N Roses, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. In capitals and underlined twice. What’s that all about?” She looked around the dining area and saw Dr. Jackson, in the company of the alien woman Vala something, at a nearby table. “Dr. Jackson!” she called. “Could you explain something to us, please?”
Dr. Jackson stood up at once, left his table, and came over to Kelly. “Of course, Miss Clarkson,” he said. “Or should I call you Mrs. Blackstock?”
“Just stick with Clarkson while I’m working,” Kelly replied, “but why not just call me Kelly?”
“In that case call me Daniel,” Dr. Jackson said. “How can I help you?”
“What’s with this list of forbidden songs?” Kelly asked. “Not that I was planning on doing any of them, although I would have loved to do ‘Shadows of the Night’ if we’d had time to rehearse it, but I don’t get the reason. I mean, you said you were thinking of inviting Pink but there’s one of her songs on this list. And, okay, some of her songs have pretty adult lyrics but not ‘Get the Party Started’.”
“Ah. Yes. One reason,” Daniel explained, “is that some of our Earth songs have been adapted, by the locals, to be hymns to their gods. ‘Get the Party Started’, for instance, is the official hymn to Lliira. In some cases the lyrics have been changed and performing the original versions might inadvertently cause offense. Some are unchanged, and we did think of allowing those, but then it occurred to us that having some hymns performed and not others might be treated as a slight to those gods and goddesses who were overlooked. It might be okay but we thought we’d better play it safe.”
Behind him Vala had been sticking forks into a potato and now was balancing her construction on the tip of a knife blade and spinning it around.
“The U2 number was re-written as a memorial to a priestess who was martyred, in an extremely horrible fashion, not long before we first visited Faerûn,” Daniel went on. “Her niece is serving as the liaison officer with SG-31. She went through rather a horrific experience herself, at the time, and, well, playing the song might cause her some… distress.”
“Oh. Right,” said Kelly.
“As for ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, it could be taken as a reference to… something to which our allies were bitterly opposed,” Daniel said. “And the Guns ‘N Roses song,” his mouth twisted in distaste, “was a favorite of one of our bitterest enemies. She killed a Marine who Cierre was dating, and left two other of Cierre’s friends for dead, and it’s poisoned that song to us forever. She was partly responsible for the death of Akorynrae’s aunt too. If we never hear ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ again it will be too soon.”
Haer’Dalis glared at the poster. “This is intolerable!” he spat out. “Bad enough that Rupert Giles should ruin the livelihoods of honest bards by making traditional music obsolete. Now they are bringing others of his ilk from Earth to steal the bread from our mouths. How can we compete?”
The tall, slim, dark-haired woman at his side adopted a sympathetic expression. “It will get worse,” she told him. “At the moment DVD players are a rare and expensive luxury, and only a few lords possess them, but those who do will never hire a bard again. And DVDs will get cheaper, and more widespread, until all but the poorest can afford them. And just wait until they bring in movie theatres! Once even the poor can watch ‘Star Wars’, or ‘The Hobbit’, on a giant screen then the audiences for your plays will disappear overnight.”
“That cannot be…” Haer’Dalis began, but he was interrupted by a piercing whistle as the train to Baldur’s Gate announced its impending departure from the new Waterdeep Grand Central Station. Once the whistle stopped, and was replaced by the chuffing of the locomotive pulling away, Haer’Dalis began again.
“Do you really think we can stop this?” he asked the woman.
“Oh, yes,” she assured him. “Kelly Clarkson has a huge following, back on Earth, and an eight-month old baby girl that she’s had to leave at home. If anything were to happen to her, while she’s here, it would cause so much trouble and embarrassment for the SGC that they’d have to give up all future plans for similar events. And they’d be kept far too busy, answering questions from politicians, to be able to proceed with the movie theater scheme for the foreseeable future. Really, it’s the best chance you have to keep them from making your whole career redundant.”
Haer’Dalis pursed his lips. “The Earth people’s weaponry is deadly,” he said, “and they may well be accompanied by the Ice Warrior. Her reputation as a formidable fighter is outmatched only by those of Buffy Summers and Drizzt Do’Urden.”
The dark-haired woman pulled back her jacket to reveal a Heckler & Koch MP5-K slung at her side. “My weaponry is equally deadly,” she said, “and, as for the Ice Warrior, you can leave that Dhaerow bitch to me. I have my own reasons for wanting her dead.” Her lips curled back in a snarl. “I wanna watch her bleed.”