June 2012, one week after the discovery of The Betrayer’s Trunk.
Janus informs the team that a museum has been robbed in Las Vegas, NV, and an artifact from the Book of Bayencourt was stolen. Nick insists on renting a car instead of taking Ral’s van (sorry, Tillie), and he and Shandra head over to the rental center. To their surprise, Hali’id is there picking up a car for one Daniel Preston Woolrich. Nick tries with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to find out why he’s still in town, and Hali’id evades their answers. Shandra calls Janus and updates him on the situation.
As Hali’id is leaving with Daniel’s car, a convertible comes into the 4-way intersection and T-bones him, a grinning Crowley behind the wheel. Nick and Shandra manage to coerce Hali’id into coming with them to Shandra’s apartment while he waits for his next rental to be ready. Hali’id goes into the bathroom to clean himself up … and while they’re packing, he sneaks out and down to the Organization. He overhears Anaias, the courier, discussing the thefts with someone on the phone, and returns to tell Nick and Shandra he’ll be going with them after all. They agree, knowing they can keep an eye on him, and head out to Vegas.
Along the way, Janus has them stop in NYC to pick up their new third – Alyx DeMariss, a lawyer taking over to accompany them as a senior agent since Howard went off on his sabbatical. Alyx is not over the moon about this assignment, but requires field experience in order to further their connection with their sea krait anima. They immediately take over the driver’s seat and head out to Vegas.
Not long before they reach the Nevada border, the engine overheats. Alyx goes off in search of water, and when they come back, the team has been approached by a blonde teenager with a backpack, who tells them she’ll guide them to a truck stop in exchange for a ride there. Along the way, she introduces herself as Lucy (or Luce), a backpacker. She’s overly suspicious and cautious, and unwilling to give up much about herself, but her road knowledge proves useful enough that the team invites her to accompany them as far as Vegas in thanks. She agrees, but remains suspicious.
In Vegas, they’re greeted at the Bygones Casino by Johnny Fanatella, the Organization’s representative, and the unofficial walking lucky charm of the Sunset Strip. He gets them settled into their rooms, then sends them off to the museum.
The museum is a rinky-dink tourist trap, mostly dedicated to casino acts and stage magicians. The stolen artifact is a pair of emerald dice, formerly belonging to Jackie Hoyt, a cigarette girl turned high-roller from Chicago. Luce sees that the back door was forced, and finds a homeless man a few blocks away who tells her he saw the woman who broke in. While Alyx looks through the museum’s records and Nick and Hali’id keep watch, Shandra attempts to hack their archaic PC for information. Not much is found, aside from a note of the few other items which were stolen. One was a jewelry set: a necklace, bracelet, and earrings which belonged to a magician’s assistant at the turn of the century. They return to the Bygones to regroup.
Johnny greets their slim luck with some of his own, and takes them to dinner at the hotel restaurant, then sends them out onto the floor to enjoy themselves after their long trip. Over the meal, Luce says the homeless man told her that most thieves in Vegas fence items at the many pawn shops on the strip, and Shandra does a little hack magic to find which one they ended up at. Johnny says their luck may be turning … and thanks to his favor, Hali’id, Nick, and Alyx all win substantial amounts of money at casino games. Shandra cleans house in the arcade and wins enough tickets to score a brand-new Alienware laptop, with enough left over to decorate the girls’ hotel room with giant stuffed animals. Luce sneaks out to find a church to confess and pray, reflecting on the strange turn of events and looking for guidance.
The next morning, the team goes to the pawn shop and arranges to buy the dice later that afternoon, once the Organization’s accountant wires them the money. When they return, they find that IT’S A TRAP, and three thugs ambush them while the woman Luce’s hobo described. Thankfully, Shandra already pulled a switch with the dice, and they let her go to defend themselves from the thugs. The fight ranges out into a back alley, where Nick and Hali’id use their anima to subdue them – with a little help from a coyote with extremely lucky timing. Alyx and Hali’id take the three thugs away in their own van when it becomes clear that they were sent to capture the party. Nick elects to take the girls back to the Bygones where it’s safe.
Enroute to the casino, they’re pursued by a black pickup – the woman from the museum, again, who has realized their dupe and wants her loot. A sharp-eyed Luce notices that she’s wearing the missing necklace. Nick doesn’t seem cut out for defensive driving, so Shandra thinks fast: she calls the LVPD and tells them that a woman in a black pickup truck stole her purse. The pickup’s driver is pulled over and arrested: not only for theft, but for aggressive driving.
Meanwhile, Hali’id plays bad cop to Alyx’s good cop, and together they get information from the three thugs: Tom, Dick, and Larry. They tell them that a Dr. Sayegh sent them to capture Nick and Shandra, specifically, for study, and that the other woman, Gabe, was in charge of the operation. They are just two-bit peons, however, and jump at Alyx’s offer: they will give the trio the money promised to the pawn shop if they’ll just handily “disappear”. Tom, Dick, and Larry do like Bob Seger and take the money and run, leaving Hali’id and Alyx with three new artifacts (a wristwatch, ring, and money clip, all with protective or offensive properties) and plenty of new information to digest. The game ends with the team reconvening at Bygones to phone Janus for a debriefing.
“It is the American custom to ask things that is not your business. I was only trying to fit in.” – Hali’id, Sassmaster General
“I’m not sittin’ in a car with your stanky ass.” – Shandra
“We deal in antiquities.”
“Yes.” – Alyx & Luce
“… Who are you, and where is Nick?”
“We’re in Vegas. I’m trying to fit in.” – Shandra & Nick
Nick: (to a hangry Hali’id who does not like Snickers) How about a Twix?
Hali’id: * I do not care for tricks.
*Shandra: Silly bear, Trix aren’t for Hali’id.