"Sure you want to go through with this boss? I mean to make such a short notice-"

Even as Astrid tried to dissuade him, Lunaire kept his eyes on the rainy weather outside the window of the car. Chicago was quiet this evening, mostly because of the rain. It had been raining heavily for the last few days and that left the city in such a mood of despair it seemed a smile was as hard to find as a needle in a haystack. Even Gunnar, Lunaire's other bodyguard who was behind the wheel and was known for his casual witty talk, was rather quiet today.

And yet he was still able to offer advice to the newest guard of the son of the Nottur family. "Don't try to talk him out of anything he sets his mind on. I've learned he tends to try harder the more he is forced to stay away."

Yet inexperience is not what kept Astrid on her path. More of concern for her boss. "I mean he gets a letter about a potential illegal brothel downtown and the first thing we do is go and talk to the man in charge? Sure he could do it over the phone-"


Before Gunnar could even think of a response he stopped after he heard Lunaire clear his throat. The boss had something to say and thus all words were halted. "I could warn the boss of the brothel over the phone, but there is no guarantee that he would listen to me. Going in person to the place will put the needed emphasis on the need to abolish his establishment. Thus, we are going downtown."

Gunnar kept his eyes on the road. "Having a brothel without the Nottur family's seal of approval is violation of their values. Well, I think having a brothel at all is against the rules, right boss?"

Sitting back in his seat, the hard leather sank with Lunaire's slender frame. "Right, Gunnar. Dad wouldn't let something like this go, and I won't either."

To the Lunaire family a brothel was a symbol of debauchery. A way to make money yes, but as the family had morals they couldn't allow such a thing to exist in their part of Chicago. No matter how desperate the situation was for money they couldn't allow it.

So the car sped on downtown. Eventually, the Rolls-Royce came to a stop at an old building. A former hotel turned into a former shelter for the downtrodden of the Depression. At least, that was what it was until recently.

Astrid got out of the car with an umbrella ready to open her boss' door. Too bad he was already opening it by the time she was ready.

"Boss you're gonna get wet-"

His black and grey suit was already wet on the shoulders; the rain had gone to a downpour in the last few minutes. "I'll live, but thanks Astrid."

The three went up the stairs and Gunnar knocked gently on the door. After that he turned to Lunaire. "So boss, how are we gonna handle this?"

Lunaire put on a pair of black leather gloves. Black was a color of the family, and he wore it with a flair only the son of a mafia boss could have. "We'll go for the diplomatic route. Try to persuade him to shut down. Be ready in case that goes south."

Gunnar nodded once, and Astrid absentmindedly felt for the metal baton strapped to her right thigh. She had been in a few fights before when things got rowdy with her boss, and she was still getting used to it.

The door opened a few inches, held back from fully opening due to a chain as a measure of security. A voice from the other side was heard, "Who goes there?"

Gunnar knew what that meant. It wasn't just a greeting but a request for a password. "The moon is full tonight."

A moment later the door shut, and as many as six locks were undone before it was opened again this time fully. A man in a white and black suit and carrying a revolver stood in the doorway. "Despite the rain, I'm sure the moon is full tonight. Come on in, we got plenty of girls to choose from tonight."

The three entered and Lunaire noticed how well kept the inside of the building was in contrast to the outside. A camouflage to keep the cops away no doubt.

"Sorry but my boss here is on more important business," said Gunnar.

The doorman closed and relocked the door. "Oh? Well he might have to wait; the King is busy choosing his next batch of girls. 'Til then, why not see our selection? We have red heads, blondes, and brunettes. You like 'em stacked on top or perhaps a little fat on the end? We have quite a selection for affordable prices."

Astrid rolled her eyes and folded her arms over her chest. She didn't like this guy's casual attitude about the place. Her boss shared her thought, though he was more direct in dealing with it.

"Tell your boss that Lunaire Nottur is here, and that he has to see him right away."

The goon's eyes went wide in surprise at Lunaire's words. "The moon prince huh…alright sir, I will go right now. Wait inside."

They all went into the front lobby. After signaling for some drinks to be served the doorman walked upstairs and disappeared. Gunnar helped himself to the whiskey given to them while Astrid kept on her toes. Being a woman of her caliber she hated the idea of being in a brothel for any reason. She never could see herself stoop to selling herself for money, and didn't understand how others could be so desperate to go that far. Suppose the pay enough is good, she thought.

Lunaire on the other hand seemed focused. Like a laser his eyes had a glare that was hot. Astrid had only been on this job for a few months now and she had never seen her boss act this way. He was usually a quiet man who rarely spoke and seemed to be wrapped up in his own mind. He wasn't cold, he smiled more often than she thought possible, but he had a cool demeanor that was a façade to whatever he was really thinking.

Still, she heard the two words that made her speak up. "Moon prince, boss?"

Lunaire gave her an awkward glance like he was embarrassed by it. "Code name for when I am incognito. Helps keep my activities to a minimum."

The doorman returned having run upstairs through three flights of stairs to reach his own boss' office. "The King will see you now. Follow me."

Going up the stairs the trio went past room after room that was more or less occupied by men being pleasured by the ladies of the brothel. Most of the doors had a red light on, more or less signaling that the room was occupied, and most disturbingly loud noises were heard from inside. Such debauchery made Astrid uneasy but if she was feeling sick her boss ignored it. He had other things on his mind, though what it was no one but he knew.

They were led through three floors and to an office on the top floor. Before they could enter, however, the door man made them stop. "Mister Nottur has to go in alone."

Astrid crossed her arms, "Like hell he is-"

Gunnar put his massive hand up to stop her. "Stop rookie. We'll wait out here but if anything happens boss..."

Lunaire only nodded once as if to say he knew what his guards would do if things went south.

Entering the office Lunaire was overcome with a scent of lavender and it was a very strong aroma that made him want to cover his nose. It was too much for a simple fragrance, it was to mask another more terrible stench. Most likely that of cigars or whiskey. The room had a large couch and a desk, and pictures of scantily clad women lined the walls, all with names and dates on gold plates. A single desk sat in front of a large open French window.

And there sat William Kingsley a.k.a. Billy the King. Lunaire had read up on the brothel's new owner before he had left his house. A tall short black haired man from Connecticut. A man who was not even thirty but had more money than brains. His own family had given him the cash and of course the first thing a know it all bachelor did was buy a place with gorgeous or desperate women in it. Too bad he had bought the place in the wrong neighborhood.

The King stood up, "Ah, a prince visits a king!"

His greeting was somewhat sarcastic and Lunaire didn't like it. He kept his temper down, however. He planned to have this business meeting done as quickly-and as short-as possible. "Mr. Kingsley."

The King shook his head, "Call me Billy, sir. Mind if I call you Lunaire? I really like that name."

"Sure. Sorry I had to come onto your doorstep so suddenly but-"

Billy shook his head and approached him, "Quite fine! Here, let us have a drink on meeting face to face for the first time." He went on over to a cabinet near his desk and pulled to a bottle of whiskey. "Hope you don't mind some bourbon, I heard your family enjoys the finer tastes but I am more down to earth than the rest of my own kin."

He had spoken so fast that Lunaire had been unable to get a word in until he was finished. He sat down in a chair and when offered a glass he took it without batting an eye. "I drink all kinds."

"Now, what brings you to my humble establishment?"

Down to business, right where Lunaire wanted to go. "It's your establishment that brings me here."

Billy seemed to have other ideas. "Got that peculiar itch huh? Suppose the dames that drop at your feet get boring for you to enjoy and came to my place to get some excitement? No matter! We got all the broads you can choose from, every size and shape and every color. Color hair that is. Only the best are allowed in here. So, what tickles your pickle tonight?"

The urge to smack Billy in the face grew by the second but Lunaire kept his cool. He would until the right moment. He took a small drink of the glass before he set it on the table. "I'm not here for pleasure, Billy. I came here because I want you to shut this place down."

Any enthusiasm Billy had in his sale's pitch before evaporated faster than rain on hot asphalt. "What?"

"You heard me."

Nodding once almost in agreement, Billy's demeanor started to change. "Shut down huh...may I ask why?"

The air was starting to rise in tension. Lunaire knew he had to make his move now before it became combustible. "My family owns this area of the city. While a brothel in this neighborhood sounds good on paper and is good in an economic sense, it also attracts vagrants and drug trafficking. We recently got ourselves out of a terrible trade agreement with outsiders and we want to keep it that way. Besides, the downtrodden in this area don't need more trouble. My father and I would rather not have this here. So we want you to shut the place down."

A valid argument in defense of the Nottur family's business, and most people would agree with the proposal. Yet Billy the King was not a person who thought rationally.

The King chuckled. "Drugs huh? Last I checked opium and meth were regular sources of revenue for your family, Lunaire. Why should I shut my personal business down because you say so?"

Taking hold of the glass of whiskey Lunaire looked up at his host with a glare that would make any man shake in fear. "Because if you don't then things will get worse for you and your pleasure palace, Your Majesty."

Those last words were sarcastic but hid a not so veiled threat. Lunaire meant business.

Too bad Billy didn't care. "Let me get this straight. You come into my place of business and order me-no, threaten me-to shut down all because you and your daddy don't like me making money? You, a spoiled brat whose family got thrown out of Italy because of how weak you were, come here like you own the city and expect me to bow to you out of fear? Ha! I am Billy the King, and I rule this block! I bow to no one!"

'So much for negotiations,' thought Lunaire. His speech of empowerment did little to him, save for prove that he wasn't going to back down. Sighing, Lunaire knew he had just about overstayed his welcome. He was going to put the final nail in the hole, just to let his intentions be known. "If that's how it's going to be..." He drank the rest of the glass of whiskey in one gulp. The taste stung the tip of his tongue, but the words he followed had a bit of venom on them. "I'm giving you forty-eight hours to pack up and leave town. Otherwise the next time we see each other, I won't be here to talk." He set the glass down on the table, but as he did Lunaire motioned with his free hand towards the King's desk. On it was a small metal statue of a crown, a symbol of his power. With a simple slow twist of his wrist, the metal morphed into a cluster of mangled metal, losing all its regal appearance and prestige. The sound of the metal being twisted got the owner's attention.

It was this that got him spooked. 'I had heard that the Nottur family could do this...but I thought it was just some bullshit story...' thought the King before turning back to Lunaire.

"Forty-eight hours, King."

With that, the moon prince took his leave.

The drive back to the Nottur estate only took fifteen minutes even with traffic and yet during that trip Lunaire said not a word to anyone. His mind was back on Billy and how he was going to respond after his warning. He had a problem with making threats without backing them up or worse not thinking them through, such as it was now. 'I told him practically two days to think about it, but if he doesn't heed me then I will have to deal with it. Hope it doesn't come to that.'

Arriving at the estate, a large mansion on the outskirts of Chicago away from their enemies and on the top of a hill that oversaw their territory, the Lunaire estate was a breathtaking manor of gothic architecture and classic design of the old days. Built over the course of two years the home had been standing since the early 1920s and had served as the home of the Nottur family since their exile from Italy.

The car was parked in the front drive and though the rain had let up Astrid was there to open Lunaire's door and provide him with the umbrella. "Welcome home boss."

The only son stepped out of the car and nodded once in appreciation for her actions. Gunnar followed close behind as they all made their way into the manor itself. Right as they entered the front lobby, which was the size of a small house with room to spare Lunaire was greeted by an elderly gentleman in a servant's uniform.

"Master Lunaire, welcome home. How was your trip into the city?"

Shrugging his shoulders the young man responded casually, "Could have been better. I need to speak to father on an urgent matter. Samuel would you please?"

The older man bowed once, "The Master is currently in a meeting, but I will inform him."

"Thanks," said Lunaire before turning to his guards. "Go and take a breather. I'll call if I need you."

Astrid had finished putting her umbrella away and Gunnar nodded, "Sure thing boss." The big man took off for the west wing and from his usual habit Lunaire knew he was going right for the bar. Astrid nodded to her boss before she ran after Gunnar. Lunaire turned and headed to the central hall up the stairs to the second floor.

The west wing was the recreational area, the east wing the living quarters for the inhabitants of the house, but the center is where business was usually done. A meeting hall designed like a king's hall with a long rectangular table in the center and chairs lining each side. Guards were posted on either side of the door in order to keep everyone out. However they stepped aside as the young man approached. They didn't even have to ask his name or state of business. He owned the place and he had the right to go wherever he wanted which is what he did as he pushed the double wooden doors open ever so gently.

Inside was Reginald Nottur speaking to a half dozen well-dressed men. Men that took charge of varying points in the Nottur's territory. Seemed he was just finishing their weekly meeting when Lunaire had walked in. The young man's father stood up from his chair, his face grim. "Lunaire."

Reginald was a man over fifty and while he had a full beard that had some strands of gray here and there he was still an imposing man in stature. No one dared cross him; for fear that his anger would shake the world.

His son went on walking until he was within arm's reach of his father. "Father, I need to speak with you."

The other men at the table kept their heads low. The air seemed tense.

"That's fine. We were just finishing up. Gentlemen that will be all. Until next time."

One by one the men at the table stood up and after bidding farewell made their exit until only the father and the son remained. As soon as the doors to the hall were closed a collective sigh escaped from both of them.

Then Reginald smiled lightly, his fearsome exterior melted away to the man that Lunaire knew and deeply respected. "Those imbeciles..."

Lunaire put a hand on his father's stiff shoulder, "More bad news, old man?"

"The usual. Drug trafficking is on the rise and they insist on taking advantage of the profits it could earn us."

A sensitive subject, Lunaire knew. "Did you give into the demands?"

The older man shook his head, "Hell no. The police are cracking down on it harder ever since the increased rate of murder and suicides in the last month. Our men in the department have confirmed that it is linked to opium overdosing. I will not have the deaths of hundreds of people on my mind after last time."

The last time he spoke of was when the opium was brought in from the Far East and initially the Nottur family sold it to the locals to make a quick profit. Then supply fell as a result of riots on the coasts and a lull set in. It was during that time that supply ran out and those addicted to the drug grew frantic and mass violence started, which resulted in over four hundred deaths by suicide or murder. All because the addiction proved too much. Reginald Nottur ordered all opium destroyed, and it was a largely successful order within his own territory. Outside however, it was proving to be tougher to implement. The other mob families didn't share in the Nottur's moral consciousness and preferred to have a quick buck instead. And if it meant a person died as a result, oh well, a new buyer would always come knocking.

Ever since the order to destroy the drug was given, the Nottur's were constantly hounded to resume but they wouldn't budge on the subject, no matter how much money they lost.

But he didn't want to speak on it now. Turning to his son, the old man asked, "So, what is urgent enough that you sought me out?"

The son wished he had better news to give but he told his father the truth. "Bill Kingsley opened a brothel in one of our neighborhoods. Rumors from our watchers spoke he was selling drugs there. Seeing as he was rather new to the city I decided to pay him a visit. Ask him to back off and leave, you know?"

"And did he?"

"All that he gave was a glass of a whiskey and a go to hell."

Watching Lunaire sit down Reginald asked, "How did you respond?"

Raising a hand like he had at the palace Lunaire answered, "I gave him forty-eight hours to leave before I would deal with him and his castle. Personally."

Nodding in approval the father asked one other question. "Did you happen to give him a clue as to what you can do?"

Knowing what his father meant Lunaire nodded once. "Just a sample."

"Good. Hopefully that alone will convince him. That is if he has the brains to understand a threat."

Sighing Lunaire tapped the surface of the table with his fingers. "Not sure. He thinks he is a king and we can't touch him. Personally I hope he does leave but I might get a satisfaction out of beating him into a pulp if he doesn't."

"Violence doesn't always solve matters, son," said Reginald before he took his seat at the table. "This is why I put so much value in our moral standards."

"And I don't mind that at all. I hate getting my hands bloody," answered Lunaire. He genuinely believed there were better ways to solve trouble than violence. If he had been less inclined he would have razed the brothel the moment he had exited the building with everyone inside. However, he had been raised to be somewhat pacifist first and if it resorted to it he would deal with his problems as painlessly as possible. Thanks to his family's power to warp metal he managed to get a point across today.

Whether it was enough he had to wait and see.

"Which is why I hope he isn't as foolish as I fear he is," said Lunaire as he leaned back in the chair.

"Time will tell, son, but I trust you will make the best decision." Reginald looked over at the clock near the table. "Ah, dinner time is fast approaching. Let us get ready for it, shall we?"

Dinner at the Nottur residence consisted of everyone but the servants eating at the dining hall. At the head of the table was Reginald, and to his right sat his son while the guards Gunnar and Astrid. The menu tonight consisted of a large variety of meats and vegetables in meals more native more to Italy than to Chicago. Words were exchanged every now and then but it was a largely quiet affair, until Reginald spoke that is. Then all eyes were on him and ears were open to whatever it was he had to say.

The boss spoke to Astrid, "Tell me, Astrid. How is working in our employ working out for you?"

Astrid nervously responded, "It is much more exciting than I had anticipated, sir. Thank you."

Gunnar chuckled, "A couple of tense shoot outs can do that to you, especially when it's your first few months." The big man had been in the family's employ since he was a boy, when his father had been guard to Reginald. It truly did run in the family. He knew what she was going through in a way. She'd get used to it. Her life would be shorter otherwise.

Her response was better than Reginald expected. "Good to hear. What do you think, Lunaire?"

The son had hardly touched his plate, and his mind seemed to be in another place most of the meal. It took him a second to realize he was being spoken to. "Hm? Astrid? I haven't been displeased with her. She learns at her own pace and that is fine with me."

The older man smiled lightly while Astrid looked down at her lap in minor embarrassment. She should be honored to be mentioned in praise by the family, not feeling awkward like she just got a medal from the President.

It was then that Samuel approached the table, "Sir, there is a telephone call for Master Lunaire."

Lunaire had finished drinking his wine. He set the glass down on the table carefully. "Who is it?"

"A man by the name of Billy sir, though he prefers to be called His Majesty. Rather pompously, I might add."

Sighing loudly Lunaire got up from his chair. "'S'cuse me, father. I'll be back."

The phone was in the next room, away from eavesdroppers, and Samuel handed the phone to the young man. He decided to put his stern and stoic on as he spoke into the receiver. "This better be good."

The light hearted sounding voice of Billy replied in a carefree tone. "Ohoho, no kind words to offer? Very well. Down to business it is. I just came to call you that I have taken your offer to heart and made my decision."

Lunaire leaned on the small table, not uttering a word. His next move would depend on how Billy responded.

"The answer is no."

Not what Lunaire wanted to hear. Yet the gears in his mind were already turning the moment he had been declined.

"And one other thing. I don't care who you think you are or what your family is capable of, if you so much as threaten me again I will make you regret-"

Lunaire hung up the phone without bothering to hear all of his threat. He didn't care. He sighed once again before he returned to the dining hall. The air in the room was rife with anticipation on what the conversation had been about.

Gunnar leaned on his elbows on the table, "So? What's the story sir?"

With a simple wave of his hand Lunaire signaled for another glass of wine. Samuel was there to provide and it was done in record time. Another record was broken when the young man swallowed the entire drink in one go.

Reginald didn't speak a word, but his grey eyes knew that by looking at his son he knew that it didn't go down the way he had expected. Or wanted, for that matter. Still, he didn't push him for information. He waited.

Looking at the glass he had just finished, Lunaire finished thinking on the matter. The wine in his system seemed to help him make up his mind. As he set the glass down he answered, breaking the silence. Speaking to his guards, the moon prince made up his mind. "...rest up. Tomorrow, we have an audience with a king."

Though he wasn't known for his smarts, Billy the King was no fool. Despite his open disregard for the Nottur family's authority, which went beyond reckless and bordered on insane, he had a plan. That morning at dawn many armed men arrived from his father's country estate. His Palace had four floors and each one had six men, all of whom were professionals under his father's employ. He had requested them as soon as Lunaire had left the night before. Four men were stationed at the front door, six on each of the four floors, and finally four on the roof, as well as the two best of the bunch serving as his personal bodyguards. Thirty-four men to protect him against what? A pretty boy and his two guards, both of whom didn't seem to pack any heat at all?

As the King sat at his desk sipping his newly paid bottle of brandy he couldn't help but chuckle. He was so confident that he hadn't even bothered to get dressed, and the palace had resumed work like nothing was wrong.

"I have nothing to fear from that brat. If he does come knocking, I've already given the men orders to shoot on sight. He'll be dead by noon and I will have shown everyone not to mess with me."

Sure, everything would be fine.

Routine for Lunaire started normally. After a good night's sleep he woke up to shower, a cup of sweetened coffee, and a simple breakfast, in that order. Where it wasn't routine was what he chose to wear. Dressed in a black leather over coat, which was partially bullet proof, went over his normal black and grey tailored suit. He also wore black gloves on his hands. Samuel had offered him that morning's paper but he had declined it. He wasn't going to have the time.

When he went on down to the front lobby, he saw Gunnar and Astrid both ready to go. Unlike yesterday they were dressed to impress, the black suit and tie Gunnar wore barely contained his physique but the big surprise was Astrid. Yesterday she had worn a suit similar to what Gunnar wore but today she wore a black sundress with thing straps and black knee high boots.

Lunaire unexpectedly found himself at a loss for words, though the only clue to this was his partially agape mouth and slightly widened eyes. "Astrid?"

Seeing how he appeared flabbergasted, the young woman blushed lightly. "Gunnar told me we'd more than likely get into action, so I wore something more...flexible to shoot in."

Gunnar shook his head and gave his boss a look. "Already tried to talk her out of it, boss, but she insists."

"I can't move like I was trained to while in my suit, but I think this will be better," said Astrid as she checked her dual pistols. It was then that Lunaire noticed the thigh holsters Astrid had strapped to her legs as well as the bullet pouches on her hips. She looked like a one man-or should he say, woman army.

"Well, if you think it will help, then by all means," said the boss as he walked on by his guards. He now turned his attention to more pressing matters. "The other men ready?"

Gunnar led the way to the car, and nearby were at least a dozen men armed with Thompson machine guns and pistols all dressed in black. "Yeah, following the plan to the letter."

Reaching the Mercedes Astrid reached for the door handle for her boss but to her surprise he opened it for her instead.

"I'm on the passenger side," was his response.

She got in without another word.

After Lunaire got in the car and Gunnar started it, he informed Astrid of the situation. "My man on the inside told me that Billy has beefed up security at the Palace. It's going to be hotter than I had thought."

Astrid put on her seatbelt and as the car left the estate, with three more following, she felt nervous. "More than what we have packing?"

Lunaire nodded, "His defenses are formidable but..." He sat back in his seat. "He is overconfident, and such its clouded his brain to forget there's another way into the building. The fire escape ladder in the back. We get up there and we can bypass his entire security detail."

Gunnar smiled lightly. He was liking where this was going. "So the other guys will be act as a distraction while we deal with the King."

Lunaire nodded. A straight forward plan, but Astrid didn't seem so sure.

"Just the three of us? You sure about this, boss?"

Looking out his window Lunaire heard her but his attention seemed to be on Chicago's skyline in the distance.

Gunnar assured her, "We got this, rookie. Just keep your eyes up and the safety off, got it?"

Arriving in the city well before noon Lunaire's plan was put well into motion by the time he got on the block. Nearly two dozen of his best men were set to the front door of the palace and had begun shooting the place up without so much as a warning shot. There was no need.

Gunnar sped the car through to the back alley, avoiding the fight brewing in the front door and going to the back.

Coming from behind a dumpster came a young man in a purple and black suit and wearing a gold bracelet. "Boss!"

Everyone bailed from the vehicle and Lunaire unbuttoned his black overcoat. He addressed the man. "Donnie. What's the situation?"

The man who had been on the inside had been able to get away when the fight started. Heavy Italian accent, one of the few from the old country to make it to the states years prior and still served in the Nottur family. "The guy is a mooch, boss. Total head case, sent all his guys to the front door. Take the fire escape and you shouldn't run into any trouble."

"Wait in the car, Donnie, until we get back." Lunaire immediately went to the ladder nearby and started to climb, followed by Astrid while Gunnar took up the rear. From the ladder they went through the door on the roof and down to the top floor.

Astrid went first, with one pistol out and taking point. Her military training kicked in and despite her dress she felt like she was back in Russia again. She peeked around the corner and saw nothing. Maybe Donnie was right.


Gunnar got in front of Lunaire protectively, using his massive frame to protect his friend from stray bullets.

Sitting on the floor Astrid was able to identify the weapons being fired upon them. Thompson sub machine guns. Large circular barrels. Quick fire rate, terrible reload speed. Those thoughts went through her mind and with it she got back to her feet. Taking a deep breath the former soldier got both of her pistols raised and ready. Across the hall she saw Gunnar nod once to her before he bumped his fists together like he was pumping himself up for what was to come.

Then he turned the corner and ran straight into the oncoming fire.

Gunnar Hanson's special ability kicked in well before any bullets touched him. His skin hardened to a thickness not unlike steel while it remained unchanged otherwise. Bullet's hit his chest and face and ricocheted off him and went into the walls, the impact of the bullets made audible ping sounds when they bounced off. Despite his immense size he made it down to the other end of the hall in record time. This caused the six men there to panic at what had just happened. Astrid quickly followed and took advantage of the confusion, shooting anyone she saw foolishly come out from around the corner. One, two, three men did so, and all three of them hit the ground with shots to the shoulders and knees, all dropping their weapons when they hit the ground. Gunnar pretty much clobbered the men that remained, breaking arms and legs until they gave up with his immense strength.

Having only seen this once or twice before Astrid was still not used to the fact that he could harden his skin, just like her boss could manipulate iron to his need. "Area secured..." she called back to her boss. "Got it done, boss!"

Lunaire ran down the hall as well but he stopped at the door that led to the Throne, Billy the King's personal chamber. Astrid and Gunnar rejoined him, the man's skin returning to normal while Astrid kept one gun out. Just in case.

The door was locked but when the son of Nottur discovered that the handle was made of iron he gave a smirk. With a twist of his wrist and a pull of his arm he forced the handle right out of the wooden door with ease. Gunnar put the exclamation point on it by kicking the door in, sending it flying off the hinges.

A rather girlish scream from the far side of the room that could only belong to the King himself was heard as the three entered the room. He was cowering behind his desk, his defenses had been taken down in no time at all and now he was at the mercy of someone he called a 'spoiled brat' and his two personal bodyguards.

And Lunaire was going to make him wish he hadn't threatened him either.

Gunnar grabbed the man back the back of his coat collar and forced him to sit down in a simple wooden chair. It shook from his fear while he sat down in it.

"Let's have a friendly chat, huh King?" Lunaire had his arms crossed over his chest, flanked by Astrid on his right while Gunnar made sure Billy remained in his seat by standing directly behind him.

Billy noticeably gulped nervously.

"I've got a proposal for you, and it concerns both your business and personal well-being. You can have one or the other, but not both. Since I am such a nice guy I will let you choose. You can shut down the Palace and leave town with your skin still intact, or you can stay and suffer day and night without hope of rest by my hand. Choose carefully."

This wasn't Lunaire's first dance at intimidating his enemies. He had been raised to do such a thing from early in life. He had grown up doing it, and thus was not to be taken lightly.

Too bad Billy didn't expect him to be hard. "Go and fuck yourself you fuckin' brat, I got at least a few dozen guys ready to storm this place if anything happens to me-"

As he bellowed his threat with a confidence that did nothing but hide his increasing fear, Billy saw Donnie enter the room.

"Yo, boss."

Lunaire didn't stop staring at Billy, even as he addressed his ally. "Donnie. How is it outside?"

"The other guys mopped up the block. Locked down tighter than Ft. Knox."

Lunaire lowered his arms, "Is that all?"

"An' the cops have set up barricades in every direction to keep people out. Just like you ordered."

Astrid was secretly surprised. Her boss had power over the cops? That shouldn't have come as a surprise to her knowing who her boss was but still...

Slowly blinking once Lunaire asked one final question, "And what of Billy's men?" His voice was cold and unfriendly serious.

Donnie answered in an uncaring tone, "Dealt with sir. One bullet to the head of each, just like you ordered."

The color in Billy's face drained. "Y-You didn't..."

"I don't show mercy to anyone who thinks they can insult me and get away with it." He walked up to the fallen King and bent over to look him in the eyes. Those same eyes were full of fear and watery. He looked like he was going to cry and Lunaire did not care in the slightest. "I'm waiting for an answer King. I want it now."

Mustering up the last of his courage, the King growled, "Fuck you!"

Lunaire sighed and stood up. He waved his hand at Gunnar. The big man knew what that meant and tossed the crown to him, still twisted from the visit from the previous day. Once in his hands Lunaire used his power to mold it into something he could use. A crude dagger shaped object with a sharp blade was soon produced and he held it like an actual weapon he had molded it to be. "Too bad the crown was made of iron, Billy boy. Now-"

In quick motion Lunaire violent drove the dagger into Billy's left knee. The man cried out in pain. Blood oozed from the fresh wound and the victim was trying to break free but the large hands on his shoulders prevented him from moving and Astrid's pistols were trained on his head. He couldn't move.

And like a school teacher talking to a student, Lunaire asked once again, his hand still gripping the handle. "What's it going to be?"

He pressed down on the blade, driving it deeper into Billy's leg and even twisting and turning it while Billy helplessly screamed through gritted teeth.

He broke instantly. "FINE! I'll leave! Just stop! Please just stop!"

Lunaire was satisfied. He relieved the pressure on the dagger and got to his feet. "See? Things wouldn't have gone this far had you accepted my offer last night." The man gave a look to Astrid and Gunnar and motioned to the door. They were done here and they were going to leave as soon as he was ready. They left their post and went outside the office leaving Donnie and Lunaire alone.

"I want you out of town by midnight tomorrow. Or I'll be back, and I will not be in such a friendly mood. Donnie, get the car. We're leaving."

"Sure boss," said Donnie as he made his way out. Lunaire gave Billy a pitiful look before he left as well.

The Palace was shot to pieces and signs of the fight that had gone on were everywhere. On the street outside were police and reporters as well as medical personnel tending to the wounded from the gunfight. Avoiding the front Lunaire and company went down the back way. Gunnar got into the driver's seat while his boss remained with Donnie to talk some details over.

"I think he got the picture this time," said Lunaire as he took off his coat.

His friend agreed. "Hope so, boss. I'd hate to see you live up to your threat."

"How are his men?"

"Banged up, bloody, most of them won't be getting home from the hospital in time for Christmas if you know what I mean."

Lunaire gave a sigh of relief. He had called a major bluff by telling Billy his men had been systematically murdered in cold blood when they never actually did. Good thing Billy had been too tactless to call him on it. His men would be able to live in spite of their boss' stupidity.

"And our boys?"

Donnie's expression turned grim, "We lost three in the fire fight."

Thoughtfully and saddened slightly, Lunaire nodded. Those deaths were on his hands and would be on his mind for a long time to come. "Send their families their due compensation. I'll write the condolence letters later."

Nodding once Donnie made his exit towards the front of the building while Lunaire and Astrid got back into the car.

Gunnar started the engine just as he closed the door. "Head home boss?"

The young man nodded once. He was a little hungry. "I think a sizable lunch is in order. Don't you two agree?"

Astrid nodded once, her respect for her boss shining like the sun. "Yeah...sounds good."

With that business settled, Gunnar put the car in drive and made for home.