Fan Fiction : Discworld : Moving Pictures II

Moving Pictures II

Paul Catlow PLC1723 at yahoo.co.uk


Chapter 3: The Patrician Calls A Meeting

"Mr O'Biscuit is being very forthright, as always" observed Drumknott, setting down the latest copy of the Times.

"Yes. It would appear that not only Victor Marischino, but also Dolores Del Syn, is back in this city. A harmless co-incidence, seemingly." Vetinari steepled his fingers. "I am somewhat concerned, Drumknott. Considering that the adorable Miss Dearheart is currently off on another of her archaeological expeditions, the timing and the vectors of all this are all pointing in the same direction."

"Holy Wood, my lord?"

"Indeed, Drumknott. You might even say "Holy Wood: The Sequel", or "Holy Wood: Part Two." Vetinari sighed. "It takes no great intelligence to work out the plot, Drumknott. Memories of what was awoken the last time Holy Wood's energies were disturbed have faded with the years. People have short memories. They doubt what they saw, or indeed if anything was seen at all. And in a time of dangerous amnesia, where reports of certain disturbing happenings in far-away Fourecks are discounted as improbable, the principal players return to the city. One is content to take a job with the Watch, in a capacity where he will happily remain reassuringly obscure and out of public view. But the other still harbours dreams of a chimera-like fame in the public eye, as an entertainer. Meanwhile, the dear miss Dearheart and a party of her golems have left the city, and are traveling East in the direction of Holy Wood, in order to rescue a lost golem whom they claim is buried in that vicinity. Adora Belle believes it to be a lost Umnian Golem, that somehow got separated from its fellows some thousands of years ago."

"I'm sure our clear-up teams recovered everything of worth or potential danger from Holy Wood after the last time, my Lord. The survivors' reports said nothing of a Golem… "

Drumknott paused, and looked uneasy.

"Quite so, Drumknott. But they were all unanimous about one aspect of the dread Chthinema. Would you care to continue the plot of this particular clicks, Drumknott?"

"Disregard of some very obvious warning signals, combined with downright criminally stupid behaviour, leads to another occult incursion, mass destruction, mayhem, and panic, sir?"

"Indeed, Drumknott. With no guarantee of a Hero arising to save the world, alas."

"Shall I schedule a meeting, sir?"

"Capital idea. Invite the following possibly useful people and select a suitable venue. No great rush, Drumknott."

"This afternoon it is, then, sir". He took out a pencil and pad and prepared to take notes.

Victor's intelligence-gathering trip took him past the Bucket, the Watch pub, and into the adjacent premises of the Ankh-Morpork Times. He walked into the noise of rattling and pounding, indicating that the Press never sleeps, and tapped a busy Dwarf on the shoulder. With a combination of sign language and shouting, he asked a question, showing his Watch badge. The Dwarf disappeared behind a door, and for a moment the racket reached ear-splitting decibels. But he had indicated "Editorial? That way!" and pointed to another door. Victor entered by it.

The noise of the printing floor was gratefully muted as he closed the door behind him. He was in a carpeted anteroom, at the far end of which was a desk occupied by a not unattractive middle-aged woman, whose face still reflected the triumph of hope over reality. A large troll, painted blue and gold, loomed up to his right.

"Sek-yoor-it-ee." It said, managing a four-syllable word with difficulty. "What's your game?"

"Tugelbend. City Watch." said Victor, aware he had to find a way past the Doorway Demons. He flashed his badge. The troll saluted.

"I'll take it from here, Lintel." the woman said. She looked Victor over and gave him a very warm and slightly desperate smile. Victor decided to capitalise on this. "I wonder if you can help me, miss" he said, with a shy smile. She visibly preened.

"Well, it's a few years since I was last called "miss"" she said. "I'm sure I could help you, Constable… ?"

"Tugelbend, miss. I'm looking for a writer by the name of Reginald O'Biscuit?"

"I'm Berenice. Berenice Houser. I usually work in Archives and Back Numbers, but I'm covering the reception desk while Chlorrie's at her lunchbreak."

A dim association formed in Victor's memory. "So normally… would I be right in thinking a Miss Chlorine Maccalariat is the receptionist here?"

A look of pain was visible on her face. "Yes. She's a very efficient receptionist, but to be honest, we're all hoping she gets head-hunted by the Post Office now it's open for business again. Mr de Worde was kind enough to write her a very good reference."

"Yerrs, it would en-harnce her career pros-pecks to a greater degree than the Times could offer" the door-troll intoned, as if remembering a good line he'd heard someone else use. Something in the troll's aspect made Victor think of Detritus, explaining with a shudder how the Agatean Water Torture could be made to work on trolls.

Victor silently thanked the Gods for arranging that he visit at lunchtime, and asked about O'Biscuit.

"Oh, I should imagine he'll be in the Wombat's Revenge by now. That's the Fourecksian pub on Sheer Street, he always goes there for lunch."

"May I see his office?" He flashed a smile as well as his Watch badge. She blushed.

"I'm sure that will be alright. Unfortunately all the senior editorial staff are out now, for one reason or another. By the way, your face is really familiar. You look a little like that lovely actor who was in the Clicks a few years ago, Victor Maraschino. I kept a lot of the posters and the playbills." Her face fell. "My husband got jealous and accused me of spending too much time at the clicks. I really miss them. I know there was that trouble, but I wish somebody would bring them back".

He noted the absence of wedding ring, and thought "But she doesn't miss him".

"It's a coincidence, I agree" Victor said, with perfect truth. "But there could be worse people to share a face with. Corporal Nobbs, for one".

She giggled. "We're here, Mr Tugelbend. Do you need any help?" For some reason, a perfectly innocent-sounding request reformed itself in Victor's head as "Do you want me to spend some time alone with you in a closed office belonging to somebody who is taking a very long lunch, in an otherwise deserted office corridor, where who knows what might happen between a woman and a man? After all, nobody can blame a respectable woman if she lets herself be seduced by Victor Maraschino!" Victor politely declined, and she said "Let me know when you're finished and I'll see you out". Another brittle but hopeful smile, and he was on his own.

Right… quick search. Some rough notes came to hand on top of the general desk detritus. Victor scanned them.

Coming soon to the Mended Drum! All the way from Fourecks, our bonzer contact sport of pro-am crocodile wrestling!

Be warned, pommies, in this game you are the amateur - the crocs are the professionals. And they don't muck around!

(Replaces Dwarf-Throwing. (Cancelled by those blue-stocking stickybeak prodnoses of the Campaign for Equal Heights)

He replaced it hastily.

What are all these things on the spike…

Well, cobbers, as regular readers will know, for the last few weeks your humble scribe has been telling anyone who'll listen about how great the Petunias are and how you
The BCC advertise with us. Needs subbing to remove implied criticism. WdW.
can get to see them at the Blue Cat Club while they're in Ankh-Morpork. It came to
Oh, no, this will not do. Sub as "The available seating at the BCC is strictly limited by size of premises. Latecomers may be disappointed. WdW.
my attention when I tried to get into the flaming place that (i) it only seats 150 tops;
ABSOLUTELY not!!!Sub to: The Blue Cat Club caters for a select group in Ankh-M,
and (ii) you need to be a pooftah to get in there ,or at least, like that hapless bloody
and the unwary might find it has a very rigorous admissions policy.
Watchman who stopped the show the other night, not to mind or not to notice that the place is heaving with pooftahs. I mean, what sort of bloody Watchman is such a drongo that he can't spot a pooftah from fifty paces? The bush-rangers back home
Sub to:- As I was regrettably unable to do the
would never make a mistake like that! Instead we sent the Ankk-Morpork Times
show review, our literary critic Tuppence Swivel very kindly stepped in,
resident queen Tuppence Swivel to review the Petunias, just because he's the only
but he is more used to reviewing the "high" art forms of theatre, opera and
journo we've got who makes their the entry qualifications, and a fair dingo's
literature and on reflection may not have been best suited to the assignment.
kidney the old Pommie pooftah made of it, too.
Perhaps the management of the Petunias might consider moving the show to a
I mean, back home this is good honest entertainment for the whole family, so what
larger venue with a more open admissions policy? . Possibly one of the music
is it with the pooftahs here that in the biggest act of larceny since Tinhead Ned went outlaw, they've swiped it for their own? Flaming Norah, let's get this to a venue where you don't have to break Rules One, Three, Five and Seven1 just to get past the front door!
Halls, or the new wind of change blowing at the Opera House might sweep them up. Reg, shall we call this a first draft, with my tiny little hints for improvement inserted here and there? WdW.

Victor winced, and set the article aside. After some more patient exploration down the spike, he finally found the information he was looking for.

He read:-

Yes, Mr Dibbler said not to worry about the cost. I've worked with him before, so I just know he won't do anything like deduct the hotel bill from our pay. I'm also sure he'll pay us a percentage of the take, too, as well as the back pay still owing from when I last worked for him! We're all every excited to be staying at one of the best places, the Tump Tower Hotel, whi8ch we've heard of as one of the very best places in Ankh-Morpork…

OK, he thought, time to go. I know where Ginger is staying now and it shouldn't be too difficult to work out a way of getting to speak to her. With a last look round to check everything in the poky untidy office was as it should be, he left the room. Whoops… always look to check if the route is clear…

"You? What are you doing here?"

"Oh. hello, Grace. I could ask you the same thing?"

Grace Speaker2 fixed Victor with a deadly glare, magnified from behind the unsuitable spectacles. "I do know I'm here legitimately. I've got a few pages of logic puzzles to drop off. Mr deWorde said to leave them on his desk if he's out and he'll take it from there. YOU, on the other hand, have been snooping."

"Watch business?" Victor ventured. She hummphed. "Wait here. I'll leave with you. If anyone asks, you escorted me here. But you owe me."

"A drink in the Bucket?" he asked. (Where did THAT come from, he gibbered internally).

She scowled at him. "Searching without a warrant has a different name, Victor."

"Breaking and entering", perhaps." Whoops, he thought, recalling her remit to investigate possible corruption and irregular behaviour among Watchmen.

"I might ask for more than just a drink in the Bucket!" she scowled, and trotted down the corridor, past several of the flimsy, temporary-looking internal partitions, to the more permanent office door marked "EDITOR - Mr W. de Worde" .

He couldn't help noticing that she moved purposefully yet gracefully, and that her sole concession to more than just practical female clothing was a higher heel than you normally saw on a duty Watchwoman. She knocked, heard no reply, then slipped quickly in and out of the editor's office.

"Lucky for you everybody's out" she remarked.

They retraced their steps to the entrance, with the security troll tipping them a salute: Miss Houser gave Victor a cheery goodbye and invited him to call round again, you know, at lunchtime when I'm covering, one o'clock is good, as I have my own break then.

Victor noted the unspoken plea in her voice, and gave her his best Victor Maraschino smile.

"I won't ask how you weaselled your way in." Grace said, curtly. "Just so you know: you might have got every other woman in the Watch sighing as you walk past - as well as at least one of the men - but it isn't working on me, OK? All I've got right now is mild curiosity as to what exactly you wanted in there. When Mr de Worde finds out his newspaper's been raided by the Watch, you do know he's going to go Bursar, don't you? And if this means Commander Vimes is going to come in tomorrow morning with shaving cuts, he spreads it about with great vigour." She paused for a moment to let it sink in, and added "And I do work for the Times. Not in any great capacity, I compile material for the puzzles page and the odd crossword. It may not be much, but credit me with enough vanity to like seeing my work in print."

They walked across the road in silence to the City's unofficial Watch-house, the Bucket. Well, Victor walked, somewhat subserviently; Grace clattered, angrily. Even in broad daylight, the Gleam was dull and gloomy. There were not many Watchmen present, Victor was relieved to see: two Dwarven constables gave them a nod, then went back to morose drinking, and Constable Ping leaning on the bar. Victor got their drinks from the lugubrious Cheese, and escorted Grace to a remote table, not kidding himself that they hadn't been noticed and that it would not be circling Pseudopolis Yard as the latest hot gossip by this time tomorrow.

She thanked him, took a sip, then exhaled angrily. One leg crossed over the other, the toe of her shoe was gently kicking at the air as if she intended GBH on the very atmosphere.

She glared at him from behind her glasses, but he felt it was a less ferocious glare.

"You know" she said, "that up until a month or two ago, I was having quite an enjoyable life. I'd inherited the shop and the business from my father, I was doing quite well selling pet foods and placing otherwise unwanted animals into good homes. I'd got quite good at weeding out the unsuitable and the undesirable potential owners and I thought, in my own small way, I was doing good. Because my parents had ambitions for me and got me to the Quirm Academy, I had quite a good education. I loved Miss Trator's logic lessons and some of the puzzles she set. I loved Modern Languages with Miss Cumber. That stayed with me, and when the Times started up and started running things like crosswords, I designed a couple. I took them round to show to Mr de Worde. He printed them. I suggested a really difficult general knowledge quiz with the answers in the next day's paper so people had to come back to buy another copy to see where they'd been right and wrong.. He used it. And my life was happy, Mr Tugelbend. Happy. And then, out of the blue, I get a written invitation to tender for the pet food contract at the Palace. OK, I'm up against Clancy's of Long Hogmeat, they had the contract for the Patrician's last dog before he died. I thought, well, they'll get it again for this new dog of his, won't he? This is just some auditing exercise where the Palace wants to show it's shopped around. But Sid Clancy is going to get it again, AND he'll put that bloody sign back up saying "By Palace Appointment" over his door."

She paused, and took a long sip. "Only… I got the contract, didn't I? Vetinari himself came down to the shop, had a look around, introduced me to Mr Fusspot… " her expression softened "Who is such a funny little chap, you can't help liking him. And he told me I'd got the contract, well done. Oh, and there was possibly one other thing he'd like me to do, to prove my loyalty to the city beyond any possible doubt. The bastard. Which is how I ended up in the Specials and sent straight to the Particulars." She sipped again. "Could be worse. It's only two days a week, I find I quite like it, in an odd sort of way, and I've got Debbie to look after the shop. Right, that's my story. What about you?"

Victor gave her a brief version, which forced a smile from Grace. "Do you still have The BokeOfTheFilme?" she asked.

"The Librarian at the University took it. It's probably there now"

"Shame. I'd have loved to try and translate the symbols. Just out of interest."

Victor looked down at the pub table and saw their non-drinking hands were nearly touching. There was no apparent ring on hers. "Steady, steady" he advised himself, also aware of the half-smile on her face. A shadow loomed up over the table. Sergeant Detritus. "Sorry, miss" he rumbled. "Victor, you is needed to see der Patrician. Sorry if I've walked into anyt'ing private or personal, but dere is a City meeting at der University. Der Patrican, he said No Great Rush."

Victor looked apologetically at Grace and got to his feet.

"Funny, that's what he said to me when he suggested I join the Particulars" she said. "Better run along then. See you at work, Victor?"

"I hope so" Victor said, fervently.


Severely Restricted.
This is copy #3.

Strictly NOTTE to be removed from the precincts of the Palace secretariat on pain of pain save for the single Exception quoted below.

Distribution list:-

Minutes of an Extraordinary City Council Meeting, held at the High Energy Magic Building of Unseen University (First Draft).

In Attendance:-

By Omniscope link from Fourecks:-

Most of the invited attendees had gathered in the H.E.M. building by 1:50pm. His Lordship opened proceedings with "Ah, Mr Maraschino. What am I saying, of course it's Lance Constable Tugelbend, isn't it? I'm so glad you were able to make it. Pray take a seat with the other Watch delegates." (For Patrician's eyes only, FPEY: it was noted that Sir Samuel looked at Tugelbend and tapped meaningfully on the cover of a copy of the Times, at which Tugelbend was observed to redden in the face.) His Lordship then inquired on the progress of the Omniscope link to Bugarup University, which is the reason why the meeting was held at the University. Professor Stibbons assured him that HEX was closing the connection any second now, my Lord.

The Omniscope link connected up to Faculty members at the University of Bugarup. Apparently Mr Stibons was able to link it up, via the HEX machine, to amplifying devices which intensified the sound and made the picture larger, for the benefit of all in the room. The initial dialogue was as follows:

Archchancellor William Rincewind (ACW):
Is this flaming thing on? Listen, you fellas, we're going to be talking to this Vetinari bloke, and rumour is, he's a fly galah who could hide behind a corkscrew and talk the bottle into opening itself, so be careful what you say, OK? Right, no worries. Hey, I can see that pissant galah Des Matterhorn, how'ya doin', y'old soak?
Professor Ponder Stibbons (PS):
Er, we're live, Archchancellor.
ACW and associates:
G'day!
Havelock Vetinari, Patrician (HVP):
Good afternoon, Archchancellor… . Good heavens, Drumknott, it says here…
Rufus Drumknott (RD):
Yes, my lord. That is perfectly correct.
HVP:
Well, there are two words I thought I would never ever use next to each other without an intervening comma. Archchancellor Rincewind, welcome to Ankh-Morpork. Is the Prime Minister with you?
ACW:
He certainly is, your Patrician-ness, we got him out on parole for the arvi!

(The Omniscope cuts to a woebegone figure in arrowed prison uniform, firmly shackled in between two burly Bush Rangers.)

The Prime Minister (PM):
G'day, your lordship.
HVP:
Good afternoon, Prime Minister. I trust your cell is comfortable?
PM:
No worries, m'lord.
HVP:
Capital, capital. But there is an issue on which we both have our worries, is there not, Prime Minister?

(The PM nods, miserably).

HV,P:
May I bring in your Ambassador at this point? Mr Ambassador, what do you understand by the term bunyip?
Sir Desmond Matterhorn (DM):
G'day, m'lord. (belches, nearly spills wine). It's an abo word, meaning "What was big-fella creator ON when he devised THAT?" The Abos have a superstition about nasty creatures coming out of the woodwork and turning what they call the Dreamtime into the Nightmaretime.
ACW:
We believe them to be quasi-demonic entities out of the Dunnie Dimensions, my lord, or if you prefer, bloody great ugly galahs with too many heads and legs and not enough soft parts.
HV,P:
And I believe you had something of a plague of them in the… (consults notes) Arse Rock… . area of the Outback. (Stifled laughter from Sir Samuel Vimes) Fortunately, a long way away from any major population centres. Could we just go into the relevant background details so that my city counsellors gathered here are fully briefed? Oh, and do briefly dispose of the etymology of "Arse Rock", for the benefit of Sir Samuel.
ACW:
Bruce? Your kookaburra.
Dr Bruce Brucesson (BB):
M'lord, the indigenous natives of Fourecks…
ACW, PM, DM:
The Abboes…
BB:
The indigenous natives of Fourecks believe that the enormous rocky outcrop, which stands alone in the middle of the Nottabeer plain, fell out of the sky one day thousands of years ago. They call it Alora, which is a remarkably compact way of saying Bloody great lump of rock shaped like a bum bloody well fell out of the sky with a bloody great noise, strewth mate, bloody nearly woke us up out of the Dreamtime. It does look like two large rounded pieces separated by a cleft, and the first explorers weren't all that imaginative, so… HV,P: Indeed. Thank you for your contribution. Prime Minister, please continue.
PM:
Well, m'lord, it all began two or three years ago, shortly after the Great Wet and the trade routes opening up, and those bloody clever Moving Picture things arrived from Ankh-Morpork, how did'ja manage those? People went to see the Moving Pictures and loved them, and the Bugarup Alchemists Institute got the secret of making the film and working the picture boxes they'd bought, and then they thought:the light quality out near Arse Rock is bloody-well bonzer for filming in, and the government gave them a grant to pay for the new clicks…

At this point, the Prime Minister of Fourecks was interrupted by a commotion, as two Watchmen delivered a struggling and loudly protesting young woman to the meeting.

HV,P:
Ah, Officers von Humpeding and Jolson. I see you've brought the young lady to our little gathering, as I instructed.
PM:
Strike a light, mate, that's Dolores Del Syn, from off the clicks!
HV,P:
Indeed. Otherwise known as (consults notes) Ginger, Theda Withel, and currently, I believe, Neilette.
Ms. Theda Withel, a.k.a. Dolores del Syn, a.k.a. Neilette, a.k.a. Ginger (TW):
WHY have I been arrested and brought here? It's because of Victor flaming Tugelbend again, isn't it? I'm a citizen of Fourecks now! I want to see the ambassador!
His Grace the Duke of Ankh, Commander of the City Watch, Sir Samuel Vimes. (SV):
Easily arranged. He's the one with the stained suit, saying hello to the wine supply, just over there. Thank you, ladies. You won't take it the wrong way if I ask you to leave? Jolson, you close the doors on the way out and stand guard. Make sure nobody comes out without leave and nobody comes in without clearance. Sally, I know what your curiosity's like and I know what vampire hearing's like, so you go and patrol a long way away, if you don't mind.
HV,P:
Do continue, Prime Minister.
PM:
And that's when we got the first of these flaming bunyips appearing out of nowhere. At a clicks screening in Malice Springs. According to the survivors, and there weren't many, something happened to the screen, everyone in the audience tranced out, they got totally zoned, and these bloody bunyips got out through the screen, somehow.
Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully, Unseen University. (AMR):
Great Gods, man, that's how it happened here, at Holy Wood! Gave us no END of trouble till we sorted it out!
ACW:
Mustrum, y'old fart! I think we need to get our heads together on this one!
AMR:
I should be happy to offer you the benefit of our superior knowledge on this one, Mr Rincewind. So… how many creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions are there, roaming around Fourecks right now?
ACW:
Not many, not now. I think the wildlife did for most of them. It's all very well being a fifty foot tall monstrosity with tentacles and an armour-plated chitinous shell and mandibles the length of a surfboard, but if a funnel-web spider or a Cross-Barred Desert Cobra bites you, you're still going to turn your toes up. If there are more of 'em out there, Fourecks is a big place, a thing could roam for miles in the outback and not see another living creature. Or water. You come into the physical universe, you have to obey the rules of the physical universe, don't you, and that means things like "find water", and "don't tread on a funnel-web spider". Or annoy the sheep. Well, the moment we worked it out, that it's people's belief in the clicks that attracts these things, and if you have enough people in the same place, that's enough belief to make an interdimensional doorway for them, we barred the clicks, of course. Shame, really. That Dolores del Syn could have made a wizard give up the celibacy. And we had these home-grown clicks girls. Coolie Incontinence-Sheet3 , Nicole Younggoat, Natalie Argumentia… lovely sheilas all…
HV,P:
Mr Silverfish, Mr Sendivoge, a moment, please.
Mr Silverfish, Guild of Alchemists (Mr S):
My Lord?
HV,P:
I believe we owe our good friends in Fourecks an apology, as we seem to have inflicted a supernatural disaster on them with our rather carelessly cast-off alchemical equipment, have we not?
Mr S:
My lord?
HV,P:
At considerable expense, shortly after the end of the Moving Pictures debacle, I ordered the confiscation and collection of ALL clicks films, moving-picture boxes, and moving picture iconographs. I also sent a team of city employees out to the site of Holy Wood to scour the area thoroughly for any such exposed films and other materials, and to destroy any unexposed octo-cellulose film they found in a safe and controlled manner. Any potentially dangerous material was returned to the City under heavy guard.
Mr C.M.O.T. Dibbler, Entrepreneur (CMOTD):
Er… you didn't manage to locate any large amounts of money out there, at all, sir? Proceeds of what up until then had been the perfectly legitimate screenings of clicks films, and temporarily kept on site until it could be banked?
HV,P:
We did, indeed! And jolly useful it was, in defraying the cost to the City exchequer for all the damage, havoc and disturbance that was caused! Not least, as I recall, by a herd of one thousand elephants, ordered by a citizen whose name eludes me for the moment. If you feel you have a case for compensation, Mr Dibbler, by all means discuss it, at your own expense, of course, with Mr Slant, who handles the City's legal affairs. Now turning back to you, Mr Silverfish. I clearly recall, as it was your Guild that started this business off in the first place, requesting you to dispose of this material in the safest possible way. Is it possible you mis-heard me, hmmm? That you chose to interpret the words "Dispose of" as meaning "Export to Fourecks at a profit", rather than the intended "destroy".
Mr S:
My lord, you did say "dispose of", rather than "destroy". After the Moving Pictures industry collapsed, we owed money to an informal lender, that is to say, Chrysophrase the troll. The Guild Council came to an agreement with an interested third party, who had the means to export to Fourecks, to sell the whole stock of films, film rights, and picture boxes, which cleared our debt, and disposed of the problem, a long way away"
SV:
Who was the "interested third party", Silverfish?
Mr S:
Captain Jenkins of the Sailors' Guild. I remember. He said something like "Repairing and refitting my ship after that bastard Vimes nearly sank her cost me a packet, and I need to make a fast dollar quickly. I should clean up reselling this stuff in Fourecks now it's open for trade again."

(Vimes, Carrot and Loudweather are seen to confer.)

SV:
Talk to Jolson at the door, Carrot. Get her to clacks the Yard and put out an AO on Jenkins. I want that bugger in the brig.
Dr Downey, Master of the Guild of Assassins (DD):
My Lord, this has all been very entertaining so far, and without wishing to seem unsympathetic to the people of Fourecks, may I be permitted to ask what the wider significance is for us, on this continent? Surely you didn't call us here today just to get us to agree on what none here would dispute, that as we inflicted a supernatural plague on the nation of Fourecks, there is a consequent moral obligation, on the part of the Alchemists' Guild and the Sailors' Guild, to pay reparations?
Mr S:
But the Alchemists' Guild is not a rich one, my lord…
HV,P:
Really, Mr Silverfish? My understanding is that as of eleven this morning, your Guild was seven million dollars better off, as the result of providing inside information to "Doc" Pseudopolis of the Gamblers' Guild as to when your guildhouse was next likely to blow up. It did so as of one minute past eleven on Wednesday morning, thus enabling Doctor Pseudopolis to clean up on several large spread bets, the proceeds of which he shared with you on a fifty-fifty basis. Now it is possible that I could introduce a windfall profits tax on that sum, of perhaps, ooh, eighty or ninety per cent. Or you could express gratitude for your good fortune by underwriting the costs of a little venture I am about to propose to you all. Now. Lord Downey. To answer your question. I believe these creatures that broke thtough into Fourecks offer little residual threat. My understanding is that they entered our plane of existence through the door marked "Assume Physical Reality" and, having done so, are therefore subject to the constraints that come with having a physical body. They must eat and drink, or they will die. Unfortunately for them, they entered our universe in the middle of one of the driest, most inhospitable, places the Disc can offer. After an initial success in destroying the settlement at Malice Springs, these Things ended up roaming a very hot, dry, semi-desert. And the point of an Outback is that it goes on for quite a long way? And it also hosts some exceptionally venomous native fauna and flora? Well, I don't think we need waste any more time on wondering if one can get to the sea and swim in our direction, then.
ACW:
We've got jellyfish and killer sharks too, m'lord. No worries.
HV,P:
Capital! However. I have disturbing news that the peace currently prevailing over Holy Wood, which, lest we forget, was the epicentre of a psychic disturbance on this continent, is about to be broken. And I really cannot allow a repetition of what happened last time.

{GENERAL HUBBUB AND UPROAR)

ACR:
What? Some daft bugger's making moving pictures again?
HV,P:
Fortunately, not. Something potentially worse is moving in on Holy Wood. The Golem Trust. (At this point there was a general movement and re-arranging of chairs that focused itself on the Postmaster General, Master of the Royal Bank, and Tax-Gatherer General(elect).)
Moist von Lipwig, Postmaster General, Master of the Royal Bank, and Tax-Gatherer General(elect). (MvL):
Why are you all looking at me? I'm only getting married to her, it's not as if I have any conceivable shred of influence over her whatsoever…
HV,P:
Perhaps not. But the Golem Trust looks after, as it sees it, the rights of golems everywhere, yes? Especially long-buried ones which might have been tied to the same spot for untold thousands of years? Perhaps Mr Tugelbend might care to step forward at this point and summarise the story of what happened in Holy Wood several years ago, as he was a key witness. In your own time, Lance-Constable.

(At this point , Lance-Constable VictorTugelbend, B.Mgc., related the story of his involvement in the situation, which is summarized in the attached file 2b, Moving Pictures., and is omitted here on the grounds of un-necessary repetition.)

VT:
And the day after, the Patrician exiled… I'm sorry, suggested it would be a good idea if myself and miss Withel left town for several years to allow time for it all to blow over.
HV,P:
A truthful and accurate summation, Lance-Constable. Thank you. Now turning to you, miss Withel. It might be argued that you have broken the terms of your parole. I'm sorry, the terms of our voluntary agreement. You were requested not to return to Ankh-Morpork until your face had been forgotten. I have no worries concerning Mr Tugelbend, who has elected for low-key duties with the City Watch and put aside any dreams of fame and fortune that… Victor Marischino… . might once have entertained. I'm sure in his new job he will be a first-class and loyal servant of the city and I wish him well. But you. You have returned as part of a troupe of rather unique performers who are garnering what I believe are called "rave reviews". Your fame is spreading and it may not be too long before somebody makes the obvious link between yourself and a clacks performer called Dolores Del Syn. This is not, in any meaningful way, fulfilling the condition of your return, that your face should be forgotten in this city. Now I could exile you with or without your consent. I could bury you in the women's section of the Tanty until your face is forgotten. Or perhaps, very much older. I could pass you into the custody of the Fourecksian Embassy to send back to your new country at the earliest opportunity. Or I may have other uses for you. I shall reflect on this. Commander Vimes, kindly recall that rather statuesque policewoman guarding the doorway, and direct her to take miss del Syn into her personal custody again?
Mr Boggis, Thieves' Guild. (Mr B):
But… where do golems come into all this, again? You've lost me, sir.
HV, P:
(sighs, patiently)Let me put it as simply as I can. Last year, the redoubtable miss Dearheart of the Golem Trust went prospecting for golems, very nearly precipitating a war with the Dwarves in the process. She brought back more than anyone had bargained for, namely a whole race of golems which had been thought to have faded out of the world sixty thousand years ago. I am, of course, referring to the Umnian Golem, seven thousand of whom have reburied themselves just outside our fair city. Archchancellor, is Professor Hicks ready yet?
The Emeritus Professor of Post-Mortem Communications(vivant), Dr John Hicks (JH):
Just ready… NOW, my lord, if Hex makes the final twist…
The Professor of Post-Mortem Communications(deceased), Dr Flead (DrF):
What's happened? Why am I back HERE? This is the old squash court, isn't it? Who are these people? WHERE'S MANDY? I WAS WATCHING MANDY!
JH:
Just a few moments in service of the University and the City, if you please, professor.
Dr F:
(incoherent swearing)
JH:
Then we will return you?
HV,P:
Alternative places to return you to can be considered. A misdirected insorcism done in haste might well suffer from, shall we say, confusion of hue and tint? It would be a shame if you were returned to the Blue Cat Club, should the insorcism not make sufficient differentiation between blue and pink, nor indeed the precise tastes of the feline in question…
Dr F:
Oh, very well. Just make it quick!
HV, P:
Professor, I believe by long-established occult lore and tradition, one of the living may ask one of the dead, if summoned, three and only three questions, which the deceased party is required, indeed bound, to answer totally truthfully. Good, you agree. My first question:the place we know as Holy Wood is old, very very old. Was it Umnian in origin?
Dr F:
Yes, it was.
HV, P:
My second question:A disaster befell here which directly brought about the fall of the High Umnian civilization. It began in the place we know as the Chthinema?
Dr F:
Yes, it did. Entirely correct. That's two.
HV,P:
And the survivors of High Um, who rebuilt what we know of as the Middle Umnian civilization, at great expense and craft, made one very last Umnian Golem which was programmed, by means of its carven and psychic chem., to defend that portal and guard it forever against incursions from outside?
Dr F:
Yes, and that desirable little filly Adora Belle Dearheart is even as we speak traveling there, as fast as her delectable legs will carry her, to, as she sees it, liberate that last golem from servitude at the bottom of a half-flooded pit. She hasn't stopped to consider what it was put there to do, nor what will happen to the world if she frees it. To her, it's a golem in chains. And as that's your third question, what you choose to do about it is your problem. Now, SEND ME BACK, HICKS!

(There was a commotion among the wizards.)

Enter DEATH , Gatekeeper of the Great Unknown, The Reaper, Keeper of the Omega. (D):PROFESSOR FLEAD? TIME TO DEPART, I THINK. YOU HAVE ANSWERED THREE QUESTIONS. THE RULES STATE THAT
AFTERWARDS, YOU RETURN TO DEATH, AND MAY NOT BE SUMMONED AGAIN. NOR INSORCISED.
Dr F:
(fading, rapidly) You bastards!
ACR:
Wait!
D:
YES? KEEP IT QUICK. I HAVE THREE FRIENDS COMING ROUND FOR A HAND OF CARDS.
ACR:
(after some reflection)Oh… THOSE three friends. No further questions. So it is the end of the world?
D:
ONLY POSSIBLY. THERE ARE MANY VARIABLES. NOW IF YOU WILL EXCUSE ME.

(Respectful silence as the Grim Reaper departs with the soul of Professor Flead, exchanging nods with the Archchancellor and Lord Vetinari as he does so. Hicks is seen to punch the air in jubilation, but ceases when Ridcully and the Patrician look disapprovingly in his direction. He sits, sheepishly.)

HV,P:
Now we are all aware of the gravity of the situation, shall we set about finding a solution? Contributions, gentlemen?
DD:
(clears throat). My Lord, the Dark Council periodically meets to assess the changing political and social landscape of the city, and to evaluate what level of… .err… interest we should take in certain people who arise to prominence, should the need or opportunity present itself. After she brought the Umnian Golems to the City, we performed an evaluation exercise on Miss Dearheart. Please, Postmaster, at this stage it is merely a theoretical evaluation, a Green Paper, if you will. No contract has yet been issued.
HV,P:
And?
DD:
Well, after due reflection, we considered that a woman who is habitually surrounded by huge unstoppable creatures, all of whom recognize a debt of thanks to her which would not be unakin to love, would be a most difficult prospect to inhume. Not impossible, but the degree of difficulty and personal risk involved means we would have to set the fee at one and a half million dollars. (General consternation). Any Assassin who stood a chance would first have to evolve a means of disabling or otherwise evading an unspecified number of Golems. We realized this in your case, Postmaster, where an arrow that was intended as a routine notification was intercepted in flight, by your golem servant. And the dog in question is… ?
HV,P:
Being safely and securely looked after, Lord Downey, you may be sure of that. Oh, and Postmaster…
MvL:
Yes, lord?
HV,P:
Remind me to speak to you sometime about the twenty thousand dollars a year you still receive in legacy from Lady Lavish's will, which, strictly speaking, should go to the person who keeps Mr Fusspot fed, in good health, and free from harm.
MvP:
(resigned) Yes, my Lord.
HV,P:
So. The prospect of inhuming miss Dearheart - should such an extreme step be necessary, and I am yet to be convinced it is - is both extremely expensive and accompanied by a vanishingly small chance of success. I'm relieved, as I find her a candid and refreshing person to speak to. Definitely not a Yes-person, which I value, and I hope she lives to fulfil that function for many years yet. But she needs to be stopped and hopefully persuaded of the inadvisability of her actions, does she not? Ideas, please?
SV:
When did they leave?
Rufus Drumknott, Sc'y (RD):
According to my notes, Sir Samuel, yesterday at ten in the morning.
SV:
So we need to be in pursuit now, to stand a chance of catching her.
CI:
Sir, I instructed Constable Swires to monitor what they're doing. Well, she was doing nothing illegal and I couldn't prevent her. But I thought it would be an idea to monitor her movements, just in case, after the last time. Swires sent a message back to say that they're having difficulty crossing the sands. Apparently the old road to Holy Wood was destroyed shortly after the downfall of the clacks, and rendered impassible by areas of hazard to heavy transport. Several large heavy golems are, apparently, currently digging each other out of a sand-trap.
HV,P:
Remind me to make a note about the terrible condition of that road, Drumknott.
RD:
Note made, sir. (Memo dispatched re, need to renew traps and obstacles on the Holy Wood road)
HV,P:
Are we all in favour of sending pursuit out to negociate with Miss Dearheart and convey the opinion of the City that she cease and desist? Capital.
SV:
Sir, she's got golems. What if they don't want, or are under orders, not to be negociated with?
HV,P:
An interesting point, Sir Samuel. Captain Ironfoundersson?
Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, City Watch (CI):
It occurs to me that we should use other golems, sir.
Hv,P:
Ah yes. The irresistible force encounters the un-moveable object. I've often pondered that philosophical conundrum. A chance to find out! Most capital!
CI:
I suggest Constable Dorfl, sir. Other golems hold him in high esteem. He could be empowered to speak for the city.
HV,P:
And I'm inclined to add Mr Pump, who can be so briefed also. But just in case we need conclusive force. Mr von Lipwig, proceed to the Golem Ground and resurrect twelve Umnian Golems. Then await the arrival of Constable Dorfl, Mr Pump, and such others who are nominated by this meeting, and follow with all due speed.
MvP:
Me sir?
HvP:
You, sir. I hereby extend your parole directly eastward to Holy Wood and its environs. Mr Pump will of course be made aware. Go to it, Postmaster!
SV:
And who else, sir?
HV,P:
I'm sure both the Watch and the university need to be represented here on a mission of great importance. Lance Constable Tugelbend is your liaison with the university council, is he not, and is he not also a graduate wizard - my congratulations on your somewhat long-delayed graduation, by the way, Mr Tugelbend - and would represent both institutions admirably. As one who was there before, his experience would be invaluable. And Miss Withel, I think, as after successful completion of this mission, I may be of a mind to accept her co-operation now as mitigation of her crimes. Together with a Watchwoman to ensure her personal security. I suggest miss von Humperdinck, who has other useful talents.
ACR:
If I may suggest another Faculty member, m'lord. (He signals. From an adjoining room, several BLEDLOWS emerge and march as a body to the Patrican. The lead Bledlow salutes, and steps aside, revealing a woebegone Wizzard.) The Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography (Rincewind - R), m'lord.
R:
(miserably) I'm dragged away from my lovely rocks and told to be quiet and wait till when I'm needed. Then I'm hauled in here under heavy escort. And I see the room is just heaving with Very Important People who are looking expectantly at me. Let me guess. Something's gone horribly wrong- again - and you need me to go somewhere extremely uncomfortable and confront something which is incredibly dangerous. Am I right?
HV,P:
Remind me again. You are the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography, are you not? Capital. As where I propose to send you is potentially both cruel and unusual. Egregiously so, in fact.
R:
I thought so. Let me call my Luggage and I'll be right with you.
HV,P:
How things do fit together when you start to ask the right questions! Just one final question before we cut the connection to Bugarup, if I may. Archchancellor Rincewind, since trading links were re-established with Fourecks, it has interested me that you refer to us as Poms. Just out of interest?
ACW:
Your exports, m'lord. All come in boxes, bags and crates, with POM stamped on them. Produce of Morporkia. After a while, we just used "Pom" instead. And whad d'ya know, it spread to the people.
Lord Rust:
Ay yes, our guarantee of quality!
SV:
That guarantee… . of a particular sort of quality you only get from Ankh-Morpork.
Lord Rust:
Absolutely!
ACW:
The bushman got it in one there, m'lord!

And so the meeting ended.


  1. Refer to the Monty Python "Bruces" sketch, where Bruce played by John Cleese recites the faculty rules of the University of Walamolloo. Go back to 1
  2. Grace Speaker is alluded to in Making Money, where Vetinari remarks to Drumknott "A mind like that to be content with merely dispensing petfood? I think not. We'd better keep her under observation." The Wiki entry reads:

    "She should be slightly worried that Vetinari knows where she lives and what she does for a living. Grace runs a pet-food shop on Pellicool Steps and in her spare time appears to have an inexhaustible passion for all kinds of general knowledge trivia. As one of only five people in Ankh-Morpork who could confidently and correctly answer the question "What is, or are, Pysdxes?" ( the others are Vetinari, Drumknott, "Puzzler" of the Times and the Curator of Ephebian Antiquities at the Royal Art Museum), Vetinari is concerned that somebody with a mind like that might not just be content to run a pet-food shop. Therefore she was placed under observation…"

    I reasoned that her skills would make her an ideal recruit for the Specials. Go back to 2
  3. In hospital or care home settings in Great Britain, the rubber sheet used to underpin the bedding for a patient with continence difficulties is called a Kylie… Go back to 3

[Prev Page] [Up] [Next Page]
This section of L-Space is maintained by esmi@lspace.org

The L-Space Web is a creation of The L-Space Librarians
This mirror site is maintained by The L-Space Librarians