## Chapter 23: Friendship, Part Three: The Battle of the NetworK-Stars

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```Inside Chateau Nuit, Kellan Lux, The Vampire Economist and the Dark Lord of K-Stars, stood glowering before Kim. In a low, horrid voice, he said “Who has stolen my K-Stars? Who dares disrupt my economy?”
A murmur of Not me, Definitely not me’s rippled through the assembled crowd of terrified nightclub-goers.
“Okay wait, I’m confused,” Kim whispered to Mary. “That handsome and brooding vampire is in charge of K-Stars?”
“Yes, I tried to explain,” Mary said. “You cannot create K-Stars from scratch without disturbing the darkest, most base forces imaginable. Kellan Lux is keeper of the K-Stars, he alone controls their existence and transfer.”
Kim’s brain was like mind_blown.gif. “So the ‘K’ in ‘K-Stars’ stands for Kellan? I always just assumed it stood for Kardashian.”
“What? Why would you think that?” Mary said, with a look that read What on Earth is your deal. “You need to get over yourself, like, now, like right now, because Kellan is about to destroy you.”
“Not because of me, because of Other Kim. Her name is written on the stupid Hollywood Hills, I just figured she was in charge of money or something! I don’t know! Your world is dumb!”
“You!” Kellan said to Kim. “You have stolen what was rightfully mine. A sacrifice must be made.”
“Oh hey, hi!” Kim smiled, turning her charm up to 11. “I’m super sorry, I’m new around here, I was just trying to withdraw some K-Stars, didn’t realize there were ATM fees? Or whatever? Can I just give you the cash equivalent?”
“K-Stars have no cash equivalent,” Kellan said.
“I respectfully disagree,” Kim said. “I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and the problem starts with regular cash, where a dollar is actually worth less than a cent. So right away that throws everything off, although it may explain why airfare is so insane. I feel like 8 to 10 cents is the fair market value for a K-Star, but since this is all my misunderstanding, and you had to travel all this way out here, I’ll give you a little extra? Say 11 cents per K-Star?”
Kellan threw his head back and roared, either in pain or laughter or a mixture of both. “Silence, witch!” Kellan yelled, as an immense and powerful thunderstorm materialized over his head. “Bow before Kellan Lux, swear fealty and you shall pay for your K-Stars by telling him your deepest, darkest secrets.”
Kim couldn’t keep a quick, yelp-y laugh from escaping from her lips. She quickly brought her hand up to her mouth before more escaped. “Excuse me?” Kim said. She looked to Mary like Did I just hear this man tell me to do what I think I heard him tell me to do?
Mary nodded. “In order to get K-Stars you must bow to Kellan Lux and tell him a secret. It’s what transmutes them into something so desirable.”
“You bow and swear fealty to a MAN to get K-Stars?”
“Well you don’t have to! Only if you really want K-Stars!”
“Well I don’t want anything that bad,” Kim said. The club was silent, with Kellan and Mary and all the patrons staring at Kim.
“What? I’m not doing that. Sorry, no. Is there a Plan B or whatever?”
“Plan B,” said Kellan, rearing back, “is you die.” He cast his arm forward and a swirling blue ball of energy shot forth, ensnaring Kim. She felt herself being lifted off the ground. She couldn’t move-- she barely had the strength to breathe. She would choke to death inside this energy globe.
A few of the club patrons rushed forward to try and help Kim.
“Stay back, worthless humans,” Kellan roared, “or I will divulge your secrets.”
The patrons stepped back and disappeared into the crowd, cowed and shamed. All except one. A woman named Esmerelda Jenkins. Kim had just met her earlier that night. She was a stylist and they’d had a very nice, if brief, conversation about hair styles and how there should be more of them. Esmerelda hesitated now, trapped between wanting to help Kim and not wanting her secret divulged.
“Esmerelda Jenkins, you dare disobey me?” Kellan sneered. “What would your assembled friends here think of you, if they knew the hours you stood before your closet, wishing you could wear men’s clothes as well as women’s?”
Esmerelda was horrified. It was true-- she was so bored of the women’s clothing options. She wished sometimes she had more than one baseball cap to wear, or different shorts. Or more shoes, for God’s sake. Now everyone knew her secret. She would be shunned, cast out, a social pariah.
Kim, struggling inside the energy globe, summoned every last ounce of her strength. “Esmerelda,” she said. “That’s totally not that big a deal.”
Esmerelda turned to Kim, wiping the tears from her eyes. “It’s not?”
With great effort, Kim shook her head. “I feel the same way.”
Esmerelda shot a look at Kellan, then plunged her hand through the energy globe and wrapped her hand around Kim’s. She reached her other hand out to the crowd and someone nearby grabbed it. Within seconds, everyone in the club was holding hands, connecting their energies to Kim’s.
A wave of electricity passed through their bodies and the swirling blue orb of energy exploded and was subsumed into Kim’s phone. The spell broken, she dropped to the floor.
“What treachery is this?” Kellan shouted. “Who dares defy me?”
Kim stood to face Kellan. “I am Kim of House Kardashian,” she said. “Denier of False Economies, both monetary and secret-based. And these,” she said, indicating everyone in the club, “are my very good friends.”
And then the demon’s energy, which Kim had absorbed into her phone, was returned to him, transformed into a series of Smiling Cat Face with Heart-Shaped Eyes emoji, which shot from her screen and pummeled Kellan, each one beating knocking him farther back.
The crowd cheered Kim on, and their enthusiasm made her stronger. A final heart-eyed cat sent Kellan sliding and crashing across the floor. He struggled to right himself. “You will pay for this,” he hissed.
“I’m Kim Kardashian, honey, I don’t pay for shit.”
And she unleashed a final emoji, Money With Wings, which dove through the air and sailed gracefully into Kellan, obliterating him into a pile of energy and K-Stars and cash, which the crowd eagerly devoured.
“That’s how we do things on the C-List,” Kim said. Then she paused and turned to Mary for confirmation. “I am on the C-List now, right? Challenge completed?”
Mary nodded.
“Woo-hoo!”
Kim did a little spotlight dance as confetti showered down around her. Then she spent the rest of the night dancing with a club full of her friends.```