Kate Daniels 05.5 - Magic Gifts

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standing like statues, hands behind their backs, feet together. A lone table waited for me. Mark sat on the left, his face pale. On the right Bob Carver and Ivera gawked at me with owl eyes.
    I walked to the platform with my head held high, my cloak flaring. The entirety of the Guild focused on me. Super.
    At the platform Eduardo sped up, drawing even with me. He took a knee, locked his left fist on his right wrist, and offered me the makeshift step.
    Do not fall, do not fall, do not fall...
    Without breaking my stride, I stepped onto his arms and then onto the platform.
    We'd practiced it at least two dozen times before we had left for the Guild.
    The three shapeshifters, Derek, Eduardo, and Jezebel, turned, their backs to the platform and glowered at the crowd. Derek carried a large wooden box. The two lines of shapeshifters stepped to the left as one, snapping into a wider stance.
    Someone gasped.
    "I speak for the Pack," I said, putting all my power into my voice.. "We hold twenty percent of the Guild. The admin group holds forty. The veterans hold another forty."
    You could hear a pin drop.
    "You've had months to choose a leader. You have failed and asked the Pack to break this deadlock. This is my proposal to the Guild. Listen well, because there won't be another."
    They were listening. Thank you, Universe, for small favors.
    "Solomon Red envisioned this Guild as a place for independent men and women to earn their living in the way they see fit. We must continue the course he plotted for us."
    It was bullshit. Solomon Red didn't have that grand of a vision but Curran suggested it, so I plowed on ahead.
    "Point One. The Guild will appoint a Chief Administrative Officer to oversee day to day operations and financial security of the Guild. I nominate Mark for this post. Point Two. The Guild will appoint a Chief Personnel Officer to protect interests of its members, oversee zoning of scores, and the assignment of gigs. I nominate Bob Carver for this post. Point Three, the Guild will create the post of the Pack Liaison Officer who will represent Pack's interests in the Guild as its third largest shareholder. I will be taking over this post. Together the Chief Administration Officer, Chief Personnel Officer, and Pack Liaison Officer will form the Guild Committee, which will meet on the fifteenth of every month. All matters of policy concerning the Guild will be resolved by vote of the committee members."
    I looked down. The shapeshifter at the end of the left line stepped forward and unfolded a small table. The shapeshifter from the end of the right line placed a tall stack of index cards and three pens on the table. Derek stepped forward and put his wooden box in the center of the table.
    "The Guild will now vote," I announced. "Each of you will write your merc ID on the card, add one word: YES or NO, and drop it into this box. I give you this last chance to save the Guild and your jobs. Don't blow it."
    Two hours later, the two hundred and forty-six mercs voted yes, thirty-two voted no, and sixty one dropped blank cards with their ID's into the box, abstaining. I made a show of congratulating Bob and Mark and got the hell out of there.

Chapter Nine
    I went to see Immokalee, a Cherokee medicine woman, after leaving the Guild. She spent half an hour making supplies for me and another half-an-hour trying to convince me that going to see the draugr was a Bad Idea. I knew it was a Bad Idea. I just didn't see any way around it.
    I got to the office just after noon. The Dude and a cart containing one very sedated deer waited for me in the parking lot. A female shapeshifter I didn't know sat on the cart with a sour expression on her face. It took me only a moment to figure out why. Next to the cart, hiding in the shade, crouched a vampire. It was thin, wiry, and covered in purple sunblock from head to toe, as if some giant bubble of grape bubblegum had exploded over it.
    Jim had done it. I felt like jumping up and

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