Chapter 22: Friendship, Part Two: The Vampire Economist

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Kim sat hunched in the VIP booth at Chateau Nuit, tapping wildly on her phone. She was chanting, or at least muttering something--every so often Mary caught a phrase like “stupid K-Stars more like LAME-stars” or “the Fakest Idea that ever faked its way out of Faketown” floating out from under the club’s heavy sonic blanket of electronica. 

“Kim darling,” Mary called over to her, warily eyeing the bullhorn that floated above their table, “Aren’t you going to finish your challenge? There are still  people in the club to befriend and your time is running out.”

“Yeah yeah,” Kim said, batting the intrusion away. “They’re fine, I’m almost done here.”

“What exactly are you doing?”

“Alchemizing K-Stars.”

“Ummm,” Mary shot a panicked look from Kim to her goatee’d companion Maximilian, who had suddenly taken an intense interest in Kim. “Kim this challenge seems to have taken a turn that it probably oughtn’t have.”

“Done!” Kim shouted, obviously very pleased with herself. “I couldn’t find an Alchemy app on my phone so I just created one myself. Now we can have all the K-Stars we want! Look. I just need--”

“Kim,” Mary said, cutting Kim off, “K-Stars cannot be created from scratch.”

“--Something metal,” Kim said, sliding the bracelet off her wrist and slamming it down on the table, without breaking Mary’s stare. “A currency of ACTUAL VALUE,” she said, turning her phone over so that a neat stack of bills plopped down onto the bracelet. 

“And something...” Kim looked around the club, not sure what she was looking for. “Something sparkly. Something desirous and intoxicating. Ah!” Kim leaned over the table and grabbed the jeweled chalice of Moët that Maximilian had been sipping from. “Yoink!” she said, upending the chalice and dousing the money, the bracelet, and most of the table. 

“Kim, really,” Mary said sternly, “You are making a mess and wasting time to boot.”

Kim ignored her. She slid her fingers across her phone. A bolt of lightning arced from her phone to the table, instantly transforming the bracelet and money and champagne into 500 K-Stars that skittered out across the table and spilled onto the floor. 

Kim did a little raise the roof gesture.

“Merciful goddess,” Mary said, falling back into the couch. Maximilian leaned forward, licking his fangs. He took out his phone and began typing something.

Kim grabbed as many K-Stars as she could carry and climbed up on the table. “ANYONE IN THIS CLUB LIKE K-STARS?” she yelled, and the club blew up in a wall of ecstatic screams. 

She jumped down from the table and turned to Mary. “These hoes ain’t loyal,” she said, smiling, and ran off into the exuberant embrace of the club.

A few minutes later, K-Stars distributed, everyone befriended, Kim returned and slid back into the booth. 

“How’d I do?” she asked Mary. “Challenge completed? Leveling up is thirsty work, where’s the waitress? The bottle service here is crap, I swear. And where’s your creepy boyfriend dude?”

“Maximilian left in quite a hurry. I fear he may have gone to warn Kellan. They’re...old friends. Kim, you are in grave danger.”

“Danger? I just crushed that challenge. An entire club befriended, unlimited K-Stars alchemized. We allll up in this piece now.”

“Kim. That was not the lesson you were supposed to learn. No one has ever created K-Stars from scratch, that was not the point of this challenge! You were supposed to learn that not everyone is worth charming, and that the skill of Friendship is in seeing the truth inside people, and that the quickest path to celebrity lies in knowing who is worthy of your time and attention.”

“MARY. I ALREADY KNEW ALL THAT.”

“Well I’m sorry but you still had to do the challenge to level up.”

“You had me listening to gross dudes talk about their political beliefs! I swear, This world SUCKS SO BAD.”

There was a noise at the far end of the club, like a wall blown apart, like doors being ripped off their hinges and tossed aside with great fury.

Kim turned to see what was happening but the smoke machines and strobe lighting made it too difficult. Suddenly she felt Mary grabbing her wrist and pulling her out of the booth. 

“We have to get out of here. Now,” Mary said.

“Why?”

There was another explosion, the entire club shaking. A wave of emotion passed through the room, and the crowd suddenly began freaking out in terror. People scattered, screaming, running in every direction. Slowly the smoke cleared and the people streamed away until there was only a solitary figure standing in the center of the dance floor. He was pale and cruel-looking, with brooding eyes, terrible fangs, and muscles for days. 

He was staring angrily right at Kim.

“Umm who’s that?” Kim stage-whispered to Mary.

Mary gripped Kim’s hand so tight she thought it would break clean off. 

“Kellan Lux, The Vampire Economist. The Dark Lord of K-Stars. He has come to retrieve what you have stolen from him.”

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