A most Dangerous Game
The stone was old. Very, very old. Athena Nikos liked that. She loved the past. She loved re-discovering the wisdom of past civilizations. But this was different.
“Are you certain?” She asked the white haired man across from her.
“Field carbon dating confirms it,” He said taking off his large thick glasses to clean them. “Roughly 1000 A.D.”
Athena looked at the stone that he had brought into her office. It sat on her massive oak desk and seemed to call out to her. That was silly of course; it was a tablet of pure granite carved into a 4x4 block. But burned into the pink and crystal block was a message in a very familiar handwriting.
“Help!” Athena read the message aloud. “Stuck in past! Gambled and Lost against Le Joueur. Laser Gal.”
The letters got progressively lighter and the last letter was barely there at all. Where ever she was and what ever had happened to her had drained her powers.
“What happened to her?” Athena wondered.
“I knew you were fond of the girl,” the man said. “So when we uncovered this I knew you’d want to see it.”
“What about the rest of the sight Mr. Dudley?” Athena asked.
“Caught in the crossfire between Captain Valiant and Raxor.” Mr. Dudley said. “Just a few hours after I left the sight with this.” He face showed irritation and Athena could sympathize. Of all of the people on the university staff Ronald Dudley was the only one who loved the past more than she did. He was also one of the people who knew that she was White Owl. From the looks of his dusty coveralls he had indeed come from the archeological sight near Angel Falls harbor. He’d taken care to set it down so that none of the dust got on her business suit. While she was in her office Athena favored expensive and well tailored clothing. “Nothing left.”
Athena swore silently. Angel Falls was constantly building and rebuilding due to superhero battles. Sometimes when a construction crew was clearing the wreckage they found something like this. Under a condo that Master Blaster destroyed had been the ruins of an old temple. The stone had been the cornerstone of that temple and if Dudley was right the temple had been older than anyone had guessed. And better built. The stones were all perfect cubes with workmanship far beyond what should have been available in pre-history.
“I’m sorry to say she must be out of your reach,” Dudley said. “We found the temple ruins thirty feet down when they were digging for a new underground garage.”
“Any bodies?” Athena asked. She hated to ask but she had too. If Laser Gal died in the past then there was no hope.
“None.” Mr. Dudley said.
“If someone sent her there I can get her back,” Athena said. “She gave the name, all I have to do is follow up on it. And I know some places to start.”
“Oh yea I know her,” The grease covered man said. “Asian chick, loves to gamble big time. High stakes. Never welches.”
“So I heard,” Athena replied. “So come on Leo, tell me what I need.”
Clean Living Leo put down the engine block he had been carrying and sat on it. He was a massive man, easily the width of four men but only half as tall. Once he had been Short Block but he found out early on that Angel Falls needed a good mechanic more than it needed another supervillain. Athena had helped him realize that after she realized that his heart really wasn’t in the villain game. Half of the machinery that the supervillains and some of the superheroes in town used came from the hidden shop beneath his garage. Athena dealt with him covertly, leaving her costume at home and bringing her car in for servicing. She’d introduced Leo to his wife-herself a former supervillainess-and since then he’d been her best conduit into the supervillain underground. He didn’t know that she was White Owl, he thought that she was just the way that White Owl looked him up for information. She didn’t consider him completely harmless but he generally kept to small stuff. Athena looked around at the old shop. It was one of the few buildings in Angel Falls that was still doing what it had been built for. A squat two story garage built of red brick. It suited him.
“She’s crazy for betting,” Leo said. “She drifted into town last year and made a deal with the Forelli family. Runs her own floor of the Gold Spire and from what I hear gets an odd group there. Sorcerers, supervillains… demons…”
“Any idea what Laser Gal might have been doing there?” Athena asked. Laser Gal had last been seen in the Golden Spire casino on the 44th floor. That matched with the name; Le Joueur.”
“Tracking some girl who got snatched by the Bounder,” Leo said. “At least that’s what I heard from the guy who tried to sell me her car.”
“When was that?”
“About a month ago.” Leo said.
“What about the guy?”
“Tried to rip me off,” he said. “Took off and never saw him again.”
Athena hovered outside of the Gold Spire casino at dawn the next day. There was no way the guy who sold Laser Gal’s car was still alive. Leo was only a semi-reformed supervillain and he’d never let some guy live who tried to cheat him. She’d never prove it or find the body so Athena let it go. What ever happened to Laser Gal had happened in the gold plated building in front of her. And it had happened a month ago. Athena had been busy but still she felt guilty that she hadn’t noticed Laser Gal was missing. LG wasn’t her sidekick but still…
Athena had hit up a lot of contacts for information about Le Joueur. No one had been able to tell her much beyond the obvious. A direct confrontation was her last option.
The Golden Spire had been built in the 1950’s and resembled a stack of poker chips. Sometime in the 1960’s it had been gold plated. Trouble was it was owned by the Forrelli Family. Old time mobster money, deeply, deeply connected into Angel Falls city government. Safe from any of her friends in the law and most of the superheroes. The Forrelli’s were the only group she knew that actually sued superheroes for damages and pressed charges if assaulted. They used the law like a sword. Parrying and thrusting with an artistic range that frustrated anyone who tried to take them down. Any strong arm tactics Athena could use would backfire on her.
“So I go in politely and ask,” Athena said floating over to the window of the forty-fourth floor. She was wearing her formal costume; white domino mask, a gray cape, light blue evening gown gloves, thigh high white stiletto boots, a gold utility belt and a French-cut sleeveless leotard made of special fabric. The window opened at her knock and Athena floated into a deserted gambling den.
“You are a bit late White Owl,” Said a surprisingly soft voice. Athena saw a slim Asian woman sitting at the bar. “It is dawn and the action here takes place at night.”
“I don’t want action,” Athena casting her eyes around the room. It was large and full of poker, roulette and blackjack tables. The walls were lined with slot machines. The odors of cigarette, cigar, marijuana and other types of vice lingered in the air. The black carpet felt sticky under her boots. “I’m here for answers about what happened to Laser Gal.”
The woman stood up and walked over to one of the roulette tables. She moved gracefully through the debris of what had been a party the night before. As she moved from dimly lit to strongly lit sections of the room Athena saw that she wore a green tunic dress belted at the waist with a belt that was a deeper shade of green. The dress contrasted well with her long jet black hair. Underneath the tunic she wore bright green leggings. She wore green shoulder length gloves. Green slippers on her feet made no noise as she walked. She gave the roulette wheel a spin and then leaned on the table.
“She came, she lost a bet.” Le Joueur said. She had green eyes and pale skin with a strikingly beautiful face. It was the type of face that could look 16 or 60 depending upon the make up.
“Lost a bet with you?” Athena demanded. “That is what you do isn’t Le Joueur?”
“It is what I am,” Le Joueur said nodding. “I was born in a casino and lost by my mother there. Gambling is life White Olw and in this place life is distilled to an essence. Every part of life is a gamble in one way or another. Here there are no grays.”
“What did Laser Gal loose?”
Athena walked over to the table and stopped the still spinning roulette wheel.
“I want details,” She said facing Le Joueur. “I want a name and I want a place.”
“What makes you think I will give them to you?” Le Joueur replied not at all intimidated. “I am well within your law here White Owl and you are not a peace officer in any case. Try to beat it out of me and you will find out what it is like to be on the wrong side of the law.”
With an easy and infuriating grace she spun the wheel again, turned and walked back over to the bar. Athena ground her teeth but didn’t move. She hadn’t come in cold after all.
“However we can work within the laws of this establishment,” Le Joueur said turning.
“You want to play for this information,” Athena said.
“Of course,” Le Joueur replied. “As you knew that I would. From the time when you spoke with the police chief I knew you would be here with some sort of plan. Since you can’t beat it out of me and your reputation is such that you won’t try to seduce it out of me you seek to play by my rules and beat me at my own game.”
“No secrets in this town,” Athena said walking over to her.
“None,” Le Joueur agreed. “Well, a few.” She reached behind the bar and grabbed a magazine and then put it on the bar between them. “But they tend to come to light. You know this magazine I’m sure.”
“Angel Falls at Night,” Athena said with a little disgust creeping into her voice. The cover of the magazine featured a bound policewoman with half of her uniform torn off. Athena knew the policewoman. That cover had nearly cost the officer her job. “Our version of the New Yorker with a Hustler angle, just not as classy.”
“I lost a bet with the editor,” Le Joueur said. “Next month I am to be the center fold.” She paused and then added. “Unless you loose a bet with me today.”
“You’re kidding,” Athena snapped. “No, of course your not.” She added. Athena tapped her mask. “I wear this for a reason you know.”
“The mask can stay, everything else goes,” Le Joueur said. She studied Athena’s face for a moment. Athena knew that she was handsome with high cheekbones and a strong jaw on top of a solid figure. Her face was framed by deeply black shoulder-length hair. “We play a game. Poker. For each hand you win I will answer a question about Laser Gal, for each hand you loose you will take off part of your costume and pose as I instruct.”
“Strip poker?” Athena asked.
“Yes,” Le Joueur said. “Or strip blackjack if you prefer. If your luck is good then you’ll have your answers. Even if you luck is bad you may get a few. If you luck is terrible then you will grace the centerfold next month.”
Athena thought for a moment. Angel Falls at Night paid good money for photos of heroines with torn or missing costumes. Bondage photos paid even more than nude ones. They also used model look-a-likes for some of their photoshoots. That had let a lot of heroines say that it wasn’t them in the magazine even when it was. If worst came to worst she could use that. There were no birthmarks or scars on Athena’s body to give away an absolute ID.
“We are both wearing the same amount of clothing,” Le Joueur said seeing Athena hesitate. “You may win.”
“You’ve given this a lot of thought,” Athena accused.
“You’ve been asking questions all day and spent most of the night hovering outside,” Le Joueur said. “Tell me what is Laser Gal to you?”
A confused and scared college kid who fell asleep in the lab one night and woke up able to shoot laser beams out of her eyes, Athena thought. A young woman who had the bad luck to room with the daughter of the Mind Master and date his son. A very lucky young woman who managed not to get killed when Ultra Woman, the Scarlet Witch and I took him down. A young woman who didn’t have an ounce of malice in her body and didn’t like those who did. The girl who-when she slept over at Athena’s apartment because the student dorm had been destroyed in her battle with the Roach League-had made Athena breakfast in bed twice and destroyed two toasters and nearly a stove doing it. Athena didn’t consider her a sidekick, more of a kid sister.
“A lover?” Le Joueur asked when Athena hesitated.
“No,” Athena snapped.
“Well then I’ve lost a bet,” Le Joueur laughed. “The head of the Roach League was sure that you two were lovers, or at least showered together.”
“You win half that bet,” Athena said coldly. “But she’s just a friend.”
“Good enough of a friend to wager your modesty?” Le Joueur asked extending her hand.
“It’s a bet,” Athena agreed taking her hand and shaking it. “No hidden cameras around here?”
“Shut off,” Le Joueur snapped angrily pulling her hand back. “I play the game straight or I do not play it at all!”
Touchy, Athena thought as the woman leaned over the bar and picked up an expensive looking SLR camera.
“Only this one works.”
“Good enough,” Athena said. “Poker then.”
“A game of strategy,” Le Joueur said and her voice was full of anticipation. “I will win many bets if you have any piercings or tattoos.”
She led Athena over to one of the poker tables and reached down bellow it. There was a locker there with at least ten card decks. Le Joueur handed it to her.
“As you can see the seal is not broken.”
“It isn’t,” Athena agreed studying the plastic shrink-wrap. “Who shuffles?”
“The machine,” Le Joueur said.
She opened the deck of cards, removed the jokers and then placed it into a rectangular box. She closed the box, pressed the number 2 on the key pad and then pushed a button. Athena could hear the gears whirring. The machines were straight, they had to be in Angel Falls. Supervillains were tolerated, card cheats weren’t. More than one casino had become a deserted ghost town when it was found to be stacking the deck.
Le Joueur sat down and Athena sat across from her.
“I’d offer you a drink but I don’t think you’d trust it,” Le Joueur said.
“I never drink and gamble,” Athena said.
The dealing machine beeped and spat out five cards for each of them. They slid across the felt table top smoothly an Athena picked them up. Not the best hand, but not the worst either. A pair of 2’s, a 3 and a 5 and a Jack. Le Joueur glanced at her cards but did not take them completely off of the table.
“I’ll take one card,” She said and put a card into the discard area. She pressed the number one on the machines keypad and it spat out a card.
“I’ll take three,” Athena said discarding her cards and pressing the 3 key on the pad. Her new cards were a 2, a 4 and a 7. Three of a kind was a good start.
“I’ll start with my slippers,” Le Joueur said.
“I’ll match that with my boots,” Athena said.
The Asian woman flipped her hand over to reveal three jacks, a 2 and an 8.
“Round one to me,” Le Joueur said smiling as she saw Athena’s cards.
“Yea,” Athena agreed. She reached down and unzipped her boots and then slipped them off.
“I think…” Le Joueur looked around and then pointed to the bar. “On the bar, smiling and holding your cape wide.”
Athena got up and walked over to the bar and then hopped onto the top. She’d decided on her formal outfit at the last minute when she’d come up with plan B and now she was glad that she had. She rarely wore it so even if she lost the pictures would look less authentic. She smiled as the flash went off but clenched her hands into fists. The picture would show her strong handsome face and well toned body, but it could be anyone behind the mask.
“Purple toe polish?” Le Joueur. “Had a girl’s night out recently?”
“Something like that,” Athena said.
“Ready for the next hand?”
“Yes,” Athena said hopping down from the bar.
“I’m curious,” Le Joueur said as they sat down, “Why do you do this?”
“The costume, the cape… being a heroine? I can understand the thrill of showing off your body but the crime fighting? You can’t think that it does much good. Your kind has been active in Angel Falls for nearly 20 years now and things aren’t any better.”
“You think we should just give up?” Athena asked.
“It would make sense.” Le Joueur said looking at the small screen on the back of the camera. “You are what… 27, 30? How long do you think you can keep going before you end up like the first or the second Ultra Woman? Dead or sexually enslaved? Did you hear what happened to Valiant Girl? The torture was so bad she sits in a straight jacket in a padded room. The law doesn’t appreciate you.”
“Some of the law does,” Athena said.
“Many police come here every night and I hear what they say about your kind,” Le Joueur said carefully examining the picture she had just taken. “I’m sure you know what they say.”
“You think we should just lay back, spread our legs and give up?” Athena demanded.
“I said nothing about sex,” Le Joueur replied putting the camera down.
“You don’t have too,” Athena said. “It’s always about sex. It’s primal and sex is power. All the big men, all the super villains, all the mobsters… it’s the same thing. It’s a big ape standing on a pile of bones and banging his chest saying ‘Hey, I’m tough! I’m so tough I’m gonna take what I want!’ It’s the law of the jungle.”
“That is the nature of man,” Le Joueur said throwing her arms out as if to encompass the human race. “That is how it has always been.”
“That’s the animal,” Athena said. “That’s what you get when you don’t think. What you get when you think is civilization. When you think you realize that there’s all types of strength and maybe someone who can’t pound someone to get the prize doesn’t that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve it. My club stands up and says ‘no’ to the animal. My club says that smart people make the rules and they make them fair.”
“You sound like Laser Gal,” Le Joueur said as she pushed the deal button on the box. Five cards slid toward Athena. “So earnest.”
“When did you hear her?” Athena asked picking up her cards. Le Joueur smiled at her and Athena looked at the cards she had been dealt. Two aces, a 3, a 7 and a 9. The aces were good, but the rest…
“One card,” Le Joueur said putting a card down and pressing the one key on the keypad. A card slid toward her.
One card again, did she have three of a kind? Again? Not likely.
“Three cards,” Athena said.
The machine gave her a queen, another 7 and a king.
“I’ll bet my slippers again,” Le Joueur said.
“My cape,” Athena said.
Le Joueur laid her cards down and Athena saw two jacks and two queens. She sighed and stood up.
“On the bar again if you please,” Le Joueur said.
Athena took off her cape and folded it over the side of the chair. Then she floated over to the bar.
“Hold your hair above your head, tease it a bit,” the Asian woman ordered. “And smile. Tilt your head back a little… That’s it thank you.”
Athena smiled as she posed but hoped that her eyes showed how angry she was. Standing with her arms up pulled her breasts up and she knew damn well that was what Le Joueur wanted. Athena wasn’t the DD cup that Bouncer Girl was but that didn’t stop everyone from staring at her chest a lot. Her breasts were good sized. Again she clenched her hands into fists.
After the flash went off Athena floated back over to the table.
“Are you sure you won’t have a drink?” Le Joueur asked walking back to the table. She had grabbed a bottle and a glass filled with ice from the bar.
“I need a clear head,” Athena said.
Once again the cards were dealt and Athena was more hopeful this time. She had been dealt a pair of kings and a 2, a 7 and an 8.
“Three.” Athena said.
Again she was lucky. Another king and an ace and a five.
“Well I’ll go with my slippers again,” Le Joueur said after taking two cards.
“My belt,” Athena said.
“No picture this time,” Le Joueur said when they flipped over their cards. She reached under the table and pulled off her slippers and then leaned back in her chair, putting her feet up on the table.
“Nice,” Athena commented. Each toenail was covered with gold nailpolish and studded with small diamonds.
“Thank you,” Le Joueur said. She poured herself a drink. “It’s real gold you know, stung like hell when they put it on.”
“I bet,” Athena said. “Who was Laser Gal with when she came here?”
“Mr. Snow,” Le Joueur said.
Athena swore. Mr. Snow was a snitch, a drug dealer and easily underestimated. Why was Laser Gal with him?
“She didn’t come willingly,” Le Joueur said taking a sip from her drink. “She was led in on a leash, her arms behind her back in a single glove and she was hobbled. First rate bondage gear from Ms. Restrained. The collar around her neck was studded.”
Ms. Restrained was the Leo’s opposite. She had started out as a heroine but now worked with what ever supervillain would pay her. At least now Athena had another place to check out if this turned into a dead end.
“What about her powers?” Athena asked.
“She was blindfolded,” Le Joueur said. “From the bruises and the fact that her costume was torn I’d say he worked her over. I’m curious, did she always have her nipples pierced?”
Athena growled and Le Joueur smiled.
“New deal,” She said pressing the button.
Athena looked at her cards. Two 5s, a 3 and a Jack.
“Three,” She said.
That got her another five and another 3 and a 4. Not perfect, but three of a kind…
“One,” Le Joueur said and got her card. “My blouse.”
“My belt,” Athena said. She sighed with relief when Le Joueur only had a pair of 7’s.
Le Joueur stood up and stretched and then slowly unbuttoned her blouse and took it off. Underneath was a sheer green bra and between her breasts was a small dragon tattoo.
“What did they do while they were here?” Athena demanded.
“He gambled, she tried to break free every now and then. Many sarcastic comments no matter how many times he hit her. I think she threw his game and that maybe why he lost her.”
“He lost her?” Athena demanded. “To who?”
“Next hand,” Le Joueur said.
Frustrated and worried Athena picked up her cards. Two 8’s, an ace, a queen and a king.
“Three cards,” Athena said and got a 5, a 6 and a 9.
“Two cards,” Le Joueur said. “I think my bra, you are staring at my breasts already, might as well give you the full showing.”
“Dream on,” Athena said. “I’ll bet my belt.”
Le Joueur flipped over her cards to reveal three 3’s and a pair of 6’s. Athena stood up and took off her belt.
“On the bar please,” Le Joueur said. “Lying on your side, head resting on one hand, arm and one leg pointing straight up in the air. And keep smiling.”
Athena complied but kept her free hand clenched into a fist.
“The camera loves you,” Le Joueur said. Athena didn’t reply.
Once they sat down at the table again Le Joueur took a pack of Winston cigarettes from under the table and lit one. A slight rose scent filled started to fill the room as the smoke flowed from it.
“Those things’ll kill you,” Athena said.
Le Joueur laughed and blew the smoke into her face.
“In our business longevity isn’t something you count on,” She said. She pressed the button and again the cards were dealt.
Athena picked up her cards. Two 9’s, a 7, an 8 and a jack.
“Three,” She said.
That got her back a 6, a 10 and another 9. Three nines was pretty good.
“I’ll bet my leotard,” Athena said.
“Two,” Le Joueur said. “Again, my bra. I know you can hardly wait.”
“I’m straight,” Athena said.
“I don’t care,” Le Joueur said. “That is what Laser Gal said.”
“If you can beat this you can find out,” Le Joueur interrupted smiling. She had four 7’s.
“Damn!” Athena said. She stood up and hooked her thumbs under her shoulder straps and pulled them down. Then she pulled the costume the rest of the way down revealing her bare breasts and a pair of white bikini briefs.
“Worth the wait,” Le Joueur said gazing at her body. “Please stand on the bar as before, use your hands to tease your hair up and remember to keep smiling.
Blushing Athena went over to the bar and assumed the pose.
“You are wasted as a heroine,” Le Jeueur exclaimed as she snapped the picture. This could be a problem. Athena’s breasts were large and full and her areolas were light brown and diffused into her breasts, there was no clear line around them. That was distinctive and someone could argue later that it was she in the magazine.
“It’s a fulfilling life.”
“You’re joking,” Le Joueur said blowing smoke up at her body. “All of the work you and your club has done, all of the members of my class you’ve killed or put in jail; do you think the world is any better? Crime in this city alone stands at the same level statistically for fifty years now. You haven’t stopped war, poverty, disease…”
“Neither have you,” Athena snapped hopping off of the bar. She was dizzy after the jump and steadied herself against a chair. “At least people like me are trying.”
“And failing,” Le Joueur snapped back. “Go two blocks from this building and you’ll find a young girl selling herself, a block and a half and you’ll find her brother selling himself. With all your power what good do you really do?”
“I stop people like you,” Athena said walking over to her. “Yea, maybe it doesn’t change the course of history but you know what? I don’t care! I do what I can when I can.”
“And when you can’t they are left for people like me,” Le Joueur said smiling again. “and I do what I can.” She blew more smoke into Athena’s chest and then walked back to the table. “There’s more of me than there is of you, even if you do have the power of a slut of a goddess.”
“What did you say? Athena demanded angrily.
“Come now,” Le Joueur said sitting down at the table. She took a sip from her drink. “Don’t you know what Athena was like back when she and the rest of them ruled? You think I’m bad? They were ten times worse. You’re a hypocrite if you think otherwise.”
“Athena and the rest of the gods were young,” Athena said stomping back to the table and sitting down. “Wisdom takes time even for gods.”
“You know that your breasts bounce wonderfully when you’re angry?” Le Joueur asked blowing more smoke her way.
“Yea I’ve heard,” Athena said waving her hand in front of her face. She leaned forward. “I know what Athena was like, what the others were like. They know too, that’s why they pulled back, learned to control themselves. Learned to be true gods. They are ashamed of what they were and what they did, but their wiser now. That’s why they don’t do more than send me and a few others into the world. They know that man has to learn for himself.”
“We’ll never learn,” Le Joueur said. “I’m mild by comparison to many others but still I’m evil, selfish… if there’s a law I haven’t broken it is only because I haven’t gotten to it yet.” She leaned forward and smiled. “I have raped your kind, male and female and I’ve loved it. I’ve had them squirming and screaming and laughing… Ultraman, Maple Leaf… I’ve bound them, whipped them, tickled them until they cried… and I’d do it again if I could. And so will 99 out of a hundred men.”
“I’m here for the one who won’t,” Athena said. “I’m here so that you can’t.”
Le Joueur leaned back and blew her smoke into the air above them.
“You’re doing fine so far,” Le Joueur said sarcastically leaning her head back and blowing her smoke into the air. “The Forrelli family goes after that one person all the time.”
“And sometimes I’m there,” Athena said.
“Your cleaning an oil spill a thimble at a time!”
“I’m still cleaning it,” Athena said. “Now deal!”
Le Joueur smiled and pressed the button. A red light came on and there was a beep from the machine.
“Time for a new deck,” Le Joueur said and started to refill the machine.
“What about you? You ever thought of packing this in?” Athena asked. “Going legit? You said it yourself this isn’t a life with longevity.”
“I was born and raised into this life,” Le Joueur said. “My mother lost a bet to my father and I was born, my father lost his life in a bet, my mother lost me in a bet. Passed from hand to hand I’ve learned that as good as your kind is-or pretends to be-you’re too outnumbered. You were never there when I needed you. Neither was that slut of a goddess you worship. Being the one who isn’t a predator guarantees that you’ll be preyed upon sooner or later. I’ll never be queen but I’ll never be a pawn either. An ordinary life would be the death of me.”
Cards slid across the table to her and Athena picked them up.
“Your life isn’t ordinary,” Athena said “but you’re still just middle management.
“Two cards,” Le Joueur said pressing the button. “And don’t ever call me that!”
That got her, Athena thought. Her cards were in good shape too. A pair of kings, a 4, a 5 and a jack.
“Two,” Athena said discarding the 4 and the 5.
That got her a 6, a 10 and another king.
“You don’t have much left,” Le Joueur remarked staring at Athena’s breasts.
“So even it out a bit,” Athena said. “My panties against your bra and leggings.”
“My you do have a good hand don’t you?” Le Joueur said.
“Maybe I do,” Athena said keeping her voice level.
Le Joueur laughed and blew another cloud of smoke at her.
“No, I’ll stay with just my bra thank you.”
“Not for long,” Athena said laying her cards on the table.
The Asian woman laughed and stood up not even bothering to show her cards. Slowly she pulled her bra off and then with another laugh tossed it over her shoulder.
“They aren’t as big as yours,” She said cupping her breasts with her hands. Her breasts were small but firm with dark aureoles and pronounced nipples. She pinched the nipples. “But I like them.”
“Good for you,” Athena said. “Now who did Laser Gal spend time with and what did they do?”
Le Joueur took another sip from her drink and then lit another cigarette.
“She came in with Mr. Snow, but he put her up as security against a bad hand of poker and lost her to Nick Forelli, but Nick had an outstanding debt to Dynamo and so she was passed to him. Dynamo was drunk and lost her on a coin toss to Ms. Mesmer, but as she needed eye contact to make her powers work…”
Le Joueur paused to take another drink and then blow out another cloud of smoke. Athena held her temper in check.
“Ms. Mesmer however owed a debt to me and I took her.”
“What did you do?” Athena asked quietly. It took effort to ask quietly but she did.
“I bet her that I could make her climax in one hour or under,” Le Joueur said. “Using only a feather.” She leaned forward and smiled. “I lost. But it was a fun loss.”
Somehow Athena swallowed her rage.
“What did she win?”
“Her freedom,” Le Joueur said. “Which she lost a few minutes later when she bet me that she could make me climax in that same amount of time.”
“What would she have won?” Athena asked cursing the fact that Laser Gal could be that reckless. She could be of course, the girl had absolute faith in her own luck.”
“The location of the Bounder’s lair,” Le Joueur said. “But she lost and after that I lost her in another wager.”
“To who!?” Athena practically shouted.
“Next hand,” Le Joueur said pushing the button on the machine.
Athena actually growled but kept her seat. The answer was close. But then so was complete nudity. Well if she lost there was always plan B.
The next set of cards looked to favor her. Two aces, a king, a jack and a 7.
“One card,” Athena said and got back a 10. “I’ll bet my panties.”
“Three,” Le Joueur said. “And I’ll bet my leggings.
“Damn!” Athena swore as Le Joueur turned over her cards and revealed three queens.
“The roulette table!” Le Joueur said picking up the camera.
Athena sighed and stood up and then hooked the elastic of her panties with her thumbs and pushed them down her legs.
“Clear cut!” Le Joueur said as she saw Athena’s shaven pubic area. “I’ll take five thousand from Old Man Forrelli, thank you very much.”
“Yea, you’re welcome.”
Athena walked over to the table and climbed onto it.
“I want your legs spread around the wheel, sit up and put your arms behind you to support your body. And smile of course.”
Growling to herself Athena posed as ordered. Privately she swore to melt that camera the first chance that she got.
“No, lift your knees up a bit, scoot forward, think of this as a gyno exam. Straddle the wheel.”
Athena did as she was ordered and Le Joueur angled the shot carefully, standing in front of the wheel. Athena knew that her pussy would be blocked by the wheel, but that didn’t help. Again the hated flash went off and after it Athena rolled off of the table.
“The game is almost over,” Le Joueur said walking back over to the poker table. “The only real mystery is if you use nail polish or not.”
“It’s not over yet,” Athena said.
They sat down and Athena tried to hide her nervousness. She was down to her gloves and her mask. The leather seat was cold under her butte and she didn’t want to think about what her bare feet were walking over. One more question could lead her to the man or woman who had taken Laser Gal. One more hand could leave her naked. Le Joueur had two more chances at her.
Le Joueur calmly smoked her cigarette and drank her liquor.
“Deal,” She said pushing the button.
The machine spat out the cards and Athena picked them up. Immediately she felt better. Two aces, a king and two 4’s.
“One card,” Athena said and got another 4.
“None,” Le Joueur said. “My leggings against your gloves?”
“Ok,” Athena said and turned over her cards.
“Very lucky,” Le Joueur said turning over her cards. She had two jacks.
Standing up Le Joueur slipped her leggings down her legs revealing a black thong and another dragon tattoo on her right leg. She wasn’t shaved.
“Very nice don’t you think?” Le Joueur said. “I danced professionally you know.”
“I’m sure you were a great stripper,” Athena said. “Now who did you loose Laser Gal to?”
“A new comer, a drow who referred to herself as Matron Bel-Bruh Queen of Kalan Falls.”
“Where the hell is that?” Athena snapped as her heart sank. Drow were dark elves. Vicious, cunning, cruel… Laser Gal in their power? That was like Bambi versus Godzilla.
“Next hand,” Le Joueur said. She took a drink and sent another cloud of smoke toward Athena. “Now we come to it,” She said pushing the deal button on the machine. Her eyes blazed with excitement. “Your questions might be answered or my question might be answered.”
“What do you need to know?”
“Why you kept your gloves on,” Le Joueur said.
“My hands were cold.”
Athena looked at the cards she had been dealt. Two kings, two 10’s and an ace. Just about as good as she was going to get, but still…
“One card,” Athena said discarding the ace. She got a 9 back.
“Three cards,” Le Joueur said. Her face was expressionless but her eyes were still blazing. “Care to make it just a little more interesting?”
“All your questions answered and I’ll even testify against the Forelli family.”
“You must have a good hand to risk that,” Athena said.
“Maybe I do,” Le Joueur said blowing more smoke at her. She leaned back and took a drink. “Maybe not.”
“And if I loose?” Athena demanded.
“You become mine,” Le Joueur smiled. “My slave for a week.”
“Nice try,” Athena said. “But I’ve got no reason to push this. If I loose I’ve still got enough to track down this Bel-Bruh. Gloves only.”
“You seem very sure,” Le Joueur said. “Very well.” She laid her cards on the table and Athena’s heart sank.
“A royal flush!”
“I was very sure,” Le Joueur said laughing. She picked up the camera. “Now, on the bar, standing on your hands, legs spread as far apart as you can make them go. And smile.”
“Would you have really testified against them?” Athena asked as she walked over and climbed on the bar. She pulled her gloves off and folded them over a barstool.
“A bet is a bet,” Le Joueur said. “On your fingertips please.”
Athena assumed the pose and smiled. Le Joueur took longer than before to focus this time and Athena was relieved when the flash went off. She let her self fall and for a moment lay on the bar breathing.
“Care to try one more time?” Le Joueur asked. “For the mask?”
“No,” Athena said. “Bets over. Now I’ll just ask you and you’ll answer. Unless you want the Forrelli’s to hear that you were willing to testify against them.”
“They wouldn’t believe you,” Le Joueur said. She put the camera down and picked up her cigarette.
“They’d believe the recording I have,” Athena said. “That’s why I wore my formal costume, the cape has a camera in the buckles and the gloves have an audio recording device.” She picked up the gloves. “Small enough not to be noticed by the detectors in here. Mic is right on the fingertip.”
“Well played,” Le Joueur said though she didn’t seem worried and that worried Athena. “But there is a flaw in your strategy. We played for the clothes and now they belong to me.”
“The hell they do,” Athena said defiantly.
“The hell they do,” Le Joueur said smiling.
Athena’s hand shot out and grabbed her throat. Le Joueur stopped smiling.
“I did my homework, you don’t have any superstrength, there’s no weapons handy and you’re going to start talking or I’m going straight to Old Man Forrelli.”
Le Joueur smiled again and grabbed Athena’s wrist with one hand and twisted it, breaking the hold. She kept her hold on the wrist and kept twisting, forcing Athena off balance until she fell to the floor.
“I don’t need superstrength,” Le Joueur said. “And I don’t like being threatened.”
Athena stood up ready for a fight and wondering what had happened to her powers. The woman’s grip had been too strong to be the strength of a normal human. So either her contacts were wrong or somehow Le Joueur had found a way to strip Athena of her powers along with her clothes.
“Do you want to see something?” Le Joueur asked walking behind the bar. She pressed a button underneath and part of the bar opened inward. Lights came on and Athena saw another room. It was a dungeon with stone walls, all manor of bondage gear and cages.
“Impressive,” Athena said.
“Wait until you’ve been in there for a few days,” Le Joueur said. She took a few lengths of rope from under the bar and tossed them onto the floor around the room.
Athena moved leaping over the bar she aimed a wide kick at Le Joueur’s head. Or that was the plan. She managed to get onto the bar but didn’t clear it enough and ended up rolling over into Le Joueur. With a grunt the other woman pushed her back and Athena rolled off of the bar and onto the floor. That proved it; her strength was gone somehow. Athena judged that she was way bellow even a normal person’s strength level. She was climbing to her feet when Le Joueur came around the bar and grabbed her wrist. Athena grunted in pain as her arm was twisted and she was forced face first onto a table. Le Joueur held her arm there and started to wrap the rope around Athena’s wrist. Athena’s struggles were in vain.
“What did you do to me?” Athena demanded as she squirmed and twisted. With a tremendous effort she threw Le Joueur off of her.
“Once you’re tied up I’ll tell you,” Le Joueur said.
She moved in again but Athena dodged around the table. Athena had been without her strength before she could fight without it. She hoped. Le Joueur laughed and leapt over the table and tackled her. They rolled around on the floor until Le Joueur managed to pin Athena on her back. She held Athena’s wrists above her head with one hand and reached for a length of rope. Athena bucked and twisted but couldn’t throw the other woman off of her. Her muscles just wouldn’t work. She managed to pull her hands free and punched Le Joueur in the stomach and the throat but her blows didn’t have any effect. Le Joueur caught her left wrist and pulled it over her head and then shifted her weight so that she was sitting on Athena’s face. Athena kicked her legs and pounded on the woman with everything she had but Le Joueur didn’t even notice. Athena became more and more desperate as she felt the rope being tied around her wrist. She clawed at Le Joueur and the woman gasped in pain as Athena’s nails drew blood from her back.
Suddenly Le Joueur jumped off of her and grabbed Athena’s other wrist. She pulled Athena into a sitting position and then twisted Athena’s arms painfully until Athena was on her stomach.
The fight was over at that point. Still Athena struggled as her arms were crossed behind her back and her wrists tied to her elbows. Le Joueur forced her to sit up and began to wrap the rope around her chest and stomach. Athena could only growl and try to pull away. Once again Le Joueur pushed the heroine onto her stomach and Athena felt more rope being tied to her arms. Then Le Joueur pulled the rope between her legs and passed it through the rope that was between her breasts. Athena cried out as Le Joueur pulled the crotch rope tightly, dragging it into her sex.
Le Joueur pushed her down and then tied Athena’s legs together above the knees and at the ankles. The ropes were tight and Athena could see that the knots were professional. It was going to be impossible to get free on her own.
When it was done and Athena was helpless Le Joueur walked back over to the bar and picked up her camera. Athena blinked as the flash went off again and again.
“I think I have a few cover shots,” Le Joueur mused.
“I didn’t come here without telling people,” Athena said.
“Yes I’m sure you didn’t,” Le Joueur said. She put the camera down and took hold of her legs. “You aren’t the fool that Laser Gal was.” Lightly she ran her fingers up and down the soles of Athena’s feet.
“Ha… Stop… Ha…” Athena struggled as she laughed and was surprised when Le Joueur actually stopped.
“Just testing,” Le Joueur said. Taking hold of Athena’s feet she dragged the helpless heroine across the floor and into the dungeon. Athena’s skin was tough, the rug didn’t burn as she was dragged across and the stone didn’t scrape. But her muscles still didn’t have enough strength to free her.
“Now for an answer,” Le Joueur said. She walked out of Athena’s line of sight for a moment and then came up behind her. Athena had no time to protest as she was gagged.
“My cigarette smoke was doused with a muscle relaxant,” Le Joueur said. “My drink was the counter agent.”
If Athena could have cursed then she would have. She’d been breathing that stuff for the better part of an hour!
“It was a gamble,” Le Joueur said. “Would you notice the effects? Would you tell me to stop smoking? Would you drink with me? Would the game go on long enough to weaken you?”
“Y’ un,” Athena growled through the gag.
“Yes I won,” Le Joueur agreed. Reaching down she pulled Athena’s mask off of her face. “Nice to meet you again Ms. Nikos. I remember you. Five years ago I was a dealer in Monte Carlo when you and your brother were there.”
Le Joueur dropped the mask onto the floor and walked over to the wall and took a blindfold from a hook. She walked back to Athena slowly. Athena was truly afraid now and cursed herself for not coming in with back up. Le Joueur had at least till the afternoon before Captain Valiant showed up.
“You want to know the most ironic part of this? Your brother played this game and won! We had a fun night together even if he was drunk.”
Alex? With this woman? Athena struggled angrily against the ropes but it did no good. Le Joueur only laughed and ran her hands up and down Athena’s body.
“Another bet,” Le Joueur said as she put the blindfold on her and Athena’s world went black. “I have to arrange for a double of you to be seen leaving the casino, I have to call the Queen. I think she might like a follower of Athena, I’ll have to see and I have to make sure those pictures are in a safe place.”
Le Joueur leaned over and whispered in Athena’s ear as she fondled her breasts. Athena squirmed as her nipples were pinched.
“Can I do all that before the drug wears off and you break free? If you’re free when I get back I’ll tell you everything. If you’re not then Laser Gal will have company.”
Athena heard the woman’s soft footsteps leave the room and the door close. With everything she had Athena started to work on the ropes.