Dawn broke over the desert. It reflected off the glass and steel of the city and filtered through her curtains and into her chambers. He looked younger in the early morning sun; sleep had relaxed his face. It looked like, for just a moment at least, he wasn't carrying the weight of the entire world on his shoulders.
She let the sunlight warm her as she stood there, staring out at the horizon where she could just see the beginnings of a new day. People would be scurrying to and fro. Children would go to school, people would go to work, and life would go on, no matter what the Gods of Vegas had done.
The Gods of Vegas; what were Gods anyway? Figments of personified faith roughly sketched out and highly honored to keep the great unwashed masses from falling into chaos? That was what Daniel Lofty, the ringleader of the group that had brought Vegas to its knees, would want the world to believe. Were they spiritual beings of light and power who watched down over everyone, deeming what was right and wrong from on-high? That was what modern religion wanted the world to believe. She didn't know. It was one of the great mysteries of life that she had yet to uncover.
The terrorists, the murderers, the thrice damned Gods of Vegas had been nothing but misled and twisted children. Children of the City of Sin. They'd been the same age as Zoe and younger. They had hurt people, scared an entire city, all in the name of petty revenge. She had almost been a God of Vegas.
Not exactly, of course. She didn't have a MySpace page, though some of her girls, especially those who worked, did. No, she had been saved from their fate by the man that was lying in her bed. He had grabbed her whip and had told her 'Stop'. He had made her head understand even as her heart didn't. Some would call him a "God Send"
Had the Gods sent Gil Grissom to her? She hadn't a clue. Long, long ago, before she'd been Lady, before she'd found herself, she'd been simply Heather. Her parents had taken her to church every single week. She'd been raised Mormon. She'd drifted from her childhood teachings ever so slightly. Christianity, Buddhism, Hindu, Islam, Wicca, the beliefs of the Ancient World: everyone had a different idea of what God was. She heard it screamed out enough every night; that was for sure.
God had become a feared word in Vegas. If she believed anything, she had to believe that if there were Gods, they could not be perfectly good or perfectly evil. The Higher Powers that watched over Vegas, and all of the world, could not be perfect. Had they been perfect, the so-called Gods of Vegas would have never killed so many. Were the Gods perfect, Zoe would still be alive. Were the Gods perfect, Gil wouldn't have a job and she supposed she would be doing something positively and mind numbingly boring, like working in Real Estate.
As far as she understood, she and everyone else was but a small player in a much larger game. Life was, she supposed, a complicated and endless Chess Game waged out between black and white, good and evil. There were those, like the Gods of Vegas, black pawns who mindlessly attacked in one direction. They lunged forward, causing as much damage as possible and burnt themselves out, leaving devastation behind them. Then there were those like Gil and those like him, white knights. Those who moved to head off the dark attackers.
What piece you were, though, was all up to you. Gil could have just as easily chosen to use his great mind to kill, as he had to catch killers. Whichever path you took, whichever role you chose, there were choices and there were consequences. Whether every person was connected by six degrees or Karma come back on you three times, it all came down to one thing.
They were but pieces to be manipulated, tested and thrown around at the whims of the fickle Gods and in the end it wasn't where you had started or even where you ended up, for they were all fodder for the worms in the end, it was what you had accomplished with your time on the board.
The Gods of Vegas might have left jagged scars, but the Saviors of Vegas, Gil Grissom, Sofia Curtis, Sara Sidle, Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Greg Sanders, and all that fought with them, they were the ones that would be remembered. Scars fade, Gods are forgotten, but Legends live forever, especially in Las Vegas.
Author's Note: So many thoughts and thanks, and so little time.
A huge thanks goes out, as always, to my beta reader HoneyLynx86.
Another biggie goes to my best friend Jenn, who patiently listened to me rant, moan, groan and generally babble about the plot without too many complaints.
More thanks go to: El Gringo Loco, Immi, NadehdaSt, and everyone else who reviewed. Every insight, funny thought and line of praise egged me on and kept me going, even when I wanted to throw in the towel.
This series has been long, around 150,000 words for all three stories, and it's been a joy to write. Before anyone (else) asks: No, there will be no sequel. This is it, folks. Don't fret you ever-loving little heads, though, I'm already hard at work on my next CSI adventure, but there will be no spoilers here.
Thanks for Reading, and Happy Holidays