There were quite a few people in Ankh Morpork who wanted the Commander of the City Watch out of the way. He was a nuisance. A variable. These were the type of people who liked to play checkers as if the entire board was red.
But how to get rid of him?
Assassination? No. The Assassins’ Guild refused to take any further contracts and hiring anyone from the outside was simply too messy - and besides, the man had proven himself notoriously difficult to kill even with a trained blade pointed in his direction.
Blackmail? Impossible. Sam Vimes was the sort of man to take blackmail and to happily report it to the newspaper that very same evening just to see the look on the other nobles' faces.
Bribery? Laughable. He had a certain way of going absolutely ballistic whenever someone even tried to imply it.
Abduction. It worked. It was simple. It wouldn’t be easy, but it would hardly be overly difficult. If there was one thing the commander loved in his life more than his job, it was his family. Even if he wasn't a terribly public man, everyone knew that Sam Vimes wouldn't allow anyone laying a finger on them. He wouldn’t dare do anything that would put his son’s life in jeopardy, and soon enough they would have even the unbreakable Sir Samuel in the palm of their hands. Moreover, he wouldn’t dare kill them, nor would he torture them. Even put under stress, good old Sam Vimes lived and died by the badge. Vimes would simply... fall apart, they were sure, gradually retreat out of the public eye and live the rest of his life a quiet and broken man. No, he wouldn't inflict cruel and unusual punishment on them, not so long as he still had his badge.
But Vetinari would.
Chapter 2: Adultery
In all his years as a copper, Sam Vimes had seen a great array of crime. In his younger years, he had mostly seen it whizzing past him as he lay drunk in the gutter and tried to look as small and insignificant as possible. One thing, however, had not changed in all his years of coppering. He never ceased to be astonished by precisely how dangerous it was to clear up domestic mishaps. He still remembered the first time he had been assigned to clear up a case of domestic abuse. The neighbours had had enough of hearing the wife scream bloody murder every night as her man beat four different types of hell out of her and had explained to the police that they just wanted a quiet night in, and was that too much to ask?
When the complaint came in, the rest of the coppers looked furtively at their feet and quietly pushed young Vimesy up to the plate. He had been pleased. A man beating his wife was a heinous crime, and it was one that would be easily solved provided the man wasn’t huge and muscle-bound and equipped with weaponry. Sam rather fancied the idea of being some poor lady’s saviour. All he knew was that his fellow men seemed all too happy to see him go.
So off he went, flanked by two other coppers – even the most grimy of men wouldn’t send a kid off to a dirty job like that without enough backup to at least make him look slightly more intimidating – and knocked smartly on the door.
To Sam’s surprise, the man who answered the door was not the picture of an abuser that he was expecting. He was a small, skinny man who wore tweed and glasses and looked as if he was more likely to bleat feebly than lay a hand on anyone. It was too easy to lock his skinny wrists in their flimsy handcuffs and arrest him.
Sam had been in the middle of remarking brightly to his comrades how easy the arrest had been until he saw twin masks of horror on their faces. A frying pan made a connection with the back of his head, and Sam was sent tumbling down to the ground.
“You let go of my husband!” The woman shrieked, still clutching onto the frying pan as if for dear life.
Sam stared up at her broad face and saw the bruising across her face, some faded and some in fresh bloom. She had a limp, and her wrist was bent at an odd angle. Her nose was crooked, and her bottom lip looked swollen and sore - he knew this face nearly as well as he knew his own. Oh, the features were different, but he had seen this every day growing up. There was always that woman being beaten by her husband while everyone else ducked their eyes and pretended not to notice. “What did you do that for?” He yelled. “We’re helping you!”
“How is taking my husband away from me helping me? Let him go!”
“He’s been beating you!”
The other two watchmen were beginning to back away slowly.
“He has not been.”
“Oh yeah?” Sam clambered to his feet, unable to believe his ears. “You’re all bruised!”
“It’s only ‘cos she’s been cheatin’ on me with that godsdamn mail carrier down the way,” the husband mumbled, but was quickly silenced by the steel in his wife’s eyes.
“I’ll hit you again, I swear I will,” said the woman, waving the frying pan at them once more. The two watchmen accompanying Sam took this as their cue to grab onto the lad's shoulders, grab onto the suspect's handcuffs and drag the both of them the hell out of there.
Sam gingerly felt at the lump on the back of his head and winced when his fingers came away bloody. “What the hell was that about?”
“Happens all the time,” said the eldest watchman. “You go in, but people don’t like seein’ their husbands or wives or sp—sposses or whatever you callit bein’ hauled off. Don’t ask me why.”
Sure enough, that old watchman was right. It didn’t matter if he was just a two-bit, run of the mill watchman or the commander, he rarely went into cases of domestic abuse without one of the pair threatening him with some seemingly innocuous blunt object.
Contrary to popular belief, horrifying killers and acts of human desperation did not make Sam Vimes stay awake at night. He could understand killers in their own way. What he couldn’t understand about people, about all people, was how willing they were to stay in a bad situation, how willing they were to be beaten day and night or accept a king just because it was easy or to follow the orders of someone in a uniform just because they happened to look the right way. How they'd stand up there and defend the ones who ground them into dust and despair day after day.
That kept him up at night. It really did.
Chapter 3: Arson
Angua hated being in charge of a team investigating arson. Mr. Vimes knew that! Why would he put her on it?
All right, all right, so she knew why she was put on it, but she still didn’t like it. No one in the Watch had a nose like hers as she was reminded many, many times but that very same fact ensured that it was more unpleasant for her than anyone else. She trudged unhappily to the scene and didn’t dare voicing her complaints to Carrot on account of the fact that she didn’t feel like hearing what a valuable asset to the team she was. She felt like having someone tell her how awful it was she had to do that and bestow upon her the correct amount of sympathy, which Carrot was utterly incapable of doing.
Once she got there, all the smells had already intermingled.
“How am I supposed to tell what’s what in all this?” She demanded, finally unable to keep it in any longer. “All the furniture burned down, and all of the furniture had at least a dozen different smells, and those smells had smells growing on top of it.”
“Just take your time,” Carrot said soothingly.
Angua scowled, but closed her eyes and tried to ignore the budding headache she could feel pulsing in her forehead. She could hardly tell any of the smells apart between the furniture and the smoke and the corpses. She had spent about ten minutes painstakingly taking the smells apart when the sound of footsteps made her eyes slam open only to be greeted by Cheery’s face. “What is it?” She demanded.
Cheery tentatively held up a card with flames inscribed on it along with the words, The Great Firestarter. “We found this.”
“Oh great,” she groaned. “A calling card?”
“Yes, but I think we’ve caught him already. In a way.”
Cheery pointed at one of the bodies they had piled up unceremoniously in the corner of the site which was still mostly intact. “Him. His pockets were full of them, but it looks like he didn’t get away fast enough.”
Angua stared. “How did he manage that?”
Cheery grinned nervously. “I think it was his first time.”
Angua stared in disbelief, and felt the temptation to simply accept the easy answer for once in her life. Then she imagined Mr. Vimes’ face when she told him that the criminal had just left a card. He hated that rubbish.
“We’ll keep that in mind,” she said. “For now, let’s see if we can find anything else.”
She watched Cheery gloomily trudge back to inspecting whatever it is she inspected and sighed. She took a moment to curse her own integrity and went back to work.
Chapter 4: Assault
Assault was a word that was generally reserved for one species beating up another. It did not, in Cheery’s limited experience, count for when someone damaged a crop. Despite this notable fact, that was what the man in front of her was currently insisting.
She shifted underneath the man’s scrutiny and looked down at her notes once more. “I’m sorry sir, but it says it quite clearly here that that doesn’t count as assault. Would you like to file willful damage of property instead?”
“What’s the punishment for that?”
“Normally they just replace it and pay you a little extra.”
“No! I want the scoundrel who did this thrown into prison!”
“I’m afraid not, Mister—Mister Wintler. Was this your family’s supply of income? Can you tell me how big it was?”
Mister Wintler scowled. “Small. Very small. But nevertheless valuable!”
Cheery looked relieved. “Then it shouldn’t be too hard to replace. If we receive any notice of—“
“I want him thrown in prison!”
Cheery sighed, feeling her normally vast supplies of patience running thin. “Mister Wintler, why do you want him thrown into prison? Food can be replaced.”
Wintler’s red face turned even redder. “Because without this crop, who’s going to supply The Times with humorously shaped vegetables? It's an important contribution, you know!”
Cheery looked down at her ledger again. It was going to be a long day.
Chapter 5: Battery
Vimes really wished Carrot hadn’t reminded the citizens of Ankh Morpork of the existence of the law against battery. He had read out that battery was less than assault and consisted merely of unwanted, apparently painful, contact. As far as he knew, it was a very old rule that nobs used to enjoy flaunting whenever someone bumped into them so they could have his ears or his nose cut off or so that he could be thrown into prison for their own amusement. Vimes had seen it used when he was a lad a couple times, usually coming out of a pub. It was the sort of thing to make someone turn on their heel and go back into the pub, but it had been largely defunct for years now.
There was a line coming out of the Watch House a mile long, filled with people claiming someone had offended them, often with both parties standing in line beside each other and loudly yelling at each other. He could hear the voices out the door.
“You shoved me! That was battery, it was! Made me spill my basket right over.”
“I only batteried you because you batteried me first! You’ve always had it out for me, ever since my business started doin’ better than yours, you jealous twit.”
“Now you be quiet, I’m the real victim here, you trod on my shoe and broke it right up, and now I have an offensive blister on my heel and someone’s gonna pay for it, I’ll tell you that much…”
Vimes wrote a note to remind himself to tell Carrot never to inform them that it was technically illegal to consume any less than two pounds of meat a day.
Chapter 6: Blackmail
Angua was very careful. She was good at careful. For others, if they weren’t careful, they were dead. Angua knew better than that, for there was very little that could kill a werewolf, but all that meant was that she would be lonely for a very, very long time. She had been to several cities before Ankh-Morpork, and no one trusted a werewolf. They drove her off with flaming torches and rocks, as if that could possibly kill her, but she always fled anyway. There was no point in staying in a city full of people who smelled of hatred and fear all the time. It gave her awful headaches.
This was why in this great big smelly city of Ankh Morpork, she tried to keep it quiet. It wasn’t exactly difficult with Nobby around, on account of the fact that no one pegged the pretty young thing with blonde hair cascading down her back as a werewolf when there was someone as repellent as Nobby around.
Still, even Angua wasn’t perfect, and she occasionally had the odd unfortunate incident. The man who had caught her this time was a twig-like man who fidgeted almost constantly and had an offputting nervous twitch in his face that made it look like he flinched in terror every 2.5 seconds. If Angua was Carrot, she would know who he was in an instant. Because she wasn’t, she simply took care to memorize his unique smell of at least fifteen different kinds of awful cologne and the pervasive, underlying scent of body odour.
“Y-y-you’re a watchman. I know you. You’re Sergeant Angua.” the man observed. Angua held up the lid of a trash can to hide her essentials, then thought better of it and decided she would rather be seen naked than hold a trash can in Ankh Morpork anywhere close to her body.
She shrugged. There wasn’t much use in denying it.
The man rubbed his hands together in what almost appeared to be girlish glee. “You’re the werewolf? W-well, w-well, well… You’ll be wanting to keep it a secret then, eh? From your young man…”
There was a pause.
“W-well, no man would appreciate knowing that th-their young lady started growing fur, and…”
“And?” Angua smiled. It was not a smile with a lot of good humour in it.
“What exactly is your point?”
The man stared at her teeth and sweated magnificently. “I-I’m sure you’d be willing to do q-quite a lot to make sure that your—“
“You want to blackmail me?” Angua said, incredulous at the thought. Ye gods. This man obviously didn’t know much about werewolves.. She opened her emergency bag and pulled her slip over her head. “You’re trying to blackmail a werewolf?”
His forehead crinkled. “I-I want you to… ‘m sure… I’m sure I’m not. At all. No.”
“No. Definitely not.”
“Are you quite sure?”
He stared. She smiled. Very pleasantly.
“Yes. Yes, of course. Anything to help.” Shaking, he began backing away. “Erm.”
“I’m sure you don’t want to start any rumours.” Her smile widened and the man nodded frantically.
This man smelled of hatred and fear as well, true enough. But in Ankh-Morpork, she found that she didn’t mind quite so much. It wasn’t so much about who feared you as it was about who didn’t.
Chapter 7: Conspiracy
Ankh Morpork was full of conspiracy theorists, Vimes thought gloomily. Oh, they never went anywhere, not since Vetinari took over and ensured that the city would be far worse off without his guiding hand, but that didn’t stop the gits from ranting on and on about them and planning to thwart them. Too often, he was getting reports of old, stuffy men sitting around in small rooms they rented once a week to talk about invisible going-ons of nobles and about the good old days and perhaps the bad current days and imaginary political intrigue.
Vimes remembered real conspiracies, cultivated by people who hardly had to talk about it. Real conspiracies, where everyone involved was too smart for their own good and too cold for the people’s good, bantering over people’s lives as if they were nothing more than rather annoying pawns and considered everyone but themselves expendable. And those who found them out never wasted time reminiscing, nor did they waste their time with meaningless gossip. It was the meaningful gossip they were looking for. The very thought of them made Vimes’ blood boil, for the ones trying to upend a corrupted government, he had quickly realized, were just as bad as the ones in charge.
So the conspiracy theories of today were better, Vimes would unhappily concede. He just wished that they’d be a bit quieter about it. There was only so many times you could hear secret codes said wrong before you began simply feeling a bit sorry for the rag-tag group inside those four walls who were under the mistaken impression that they were going to make a difference.
Chapter 8: Counterfeiting
Usually investigating counterfeit cases wasn’t a very large part of the Watch. It was against the law, to be true, but while the Watch had no personal stake in figuring out who was being the counterfeits as quickly as they possibly could, the manufacturers of these items certainly did and tended to find the culprit very quickly. The guilds doled out punishment swiftly and viciously, and that was that.
Except in this case, civilians were becoming seriously injured, at which point the Watch did have to intervene. Burleigh and Stronginthearm crossbows were top of the line, technically sound, and extremely difficult to replicate without spending a small fortune. Above all else, their crossbows were expensive enough to be restricted to either watchmen, or people too rich to have any real need for them. Unfortunately for them, someone had managed to replicate them, and quite convincingly at that. Practically every slope, every line and ever material of the crossbow had been efficiently duplicated, and it performed more or less the same up until too many bolts had been fired, at which point they began to malfunction.
The Watch had discarded it as a one time occurrence until people started getting hurt, either accidentally shooting others, or more commonly, accidentally shooting themselves in the attempt to shoot others. On a normal day, the Watch would be in charge of investigating why each of these individuals had felt the need to shoot their crossbows, but on this day (what with the namesakes of these crossbows frowning severely at them), they found themselves with the conundrum of figuring out exactly how to tell the difference between the two before it was too late.
At the week’s end, Vimes finally placed the two crossbows down in the break room and declared that this case would bloody well be solved by the end of the day, or else nobody was going home, mostly because far too many people for his liking had ended up seeing a doctor for a crossbow bolt stuck in their foot. That, and he wanted his men to get back to real policework instead of spending their time gloomily inspecting crossbows when they ought to be writing infernal reports which he then had to read.
Fred swore up and down that it had to be magic. Carrot, unskilled in the ways of deception, had very little to offer besides a perplexed expression and a helpless shrug. Fred repeated that it had to be magic. Reg was kind enough to offer to shoot each one in an empty room so that none of the others hurt themselves, but the rest of the men grew tired of hearing him yelp, and besides, they were nearly out of thread. Fred interjected, very insistently, that magic was clearly the correct answer. Vimes then proceeded to glower at the crossbows as if that would make them speak up, and privately agreed with Fred that it was probably magic, but not until he told Fred quite crossly to shut up. Cheery’s best efforts went unrewarded, and Angua eventually had to admit that she couldn’t smell a bit of difference between the counterfeits and the real thing.
A full minute of silence passed, and Vimes sighed. “I don’t think we’re getting any--”
“Still think it’s magic,” Fred muttered sulkily, still downcast at being ignored.
“--yes, Fred, we realize that you think it’s magic, but the wizards swear they have no idea what’s going on, so unless anyone else has any suggestions...”
At which point, Nobby proceeded to stroll into the room, happily unaware that the tension in the air was nearly as thick as the river Ankh, and began to rifle through the petty cash along the side of the room. He turned his head, then sheepishly hid his hands behind his back. “What’s going on? No one’s usually around at this hour.”
The two crossbows on the table caught his eye, and Nobby sidled over to pick up the counterfeit. “Here, what’s this doing here? This isn’t a real Burleigh and Stronginthearm.”
“Nobby,” Angua said, very slowly. “How exactly did you know that was a counterfeit?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Nobby hefted the crossbow with an ease that would be surprising out of his diminutive frame if most of them hadn’t seen him do it many times before. He then proceeded to spout out what seemed to be little more than lingo to the rest of the watchmen, chattering happily about the density of the wood, the exact materials in the whipcord along with the weave, but the general gist of the matter was that though similar materials were put together in the same way, it ultimately made a very different crossbow.
Thoroughly astounded, Vimes said, “All right, Nobby, I think we’ve got it. We’ll need you to repeat all that to the Burleigh and Stronginthearm.”
Nobby brightened, finally catching onto why everyone around him looked so astonished. “D’you think they’ll give me any free crossbows?”
“No, Nobby.” Vimes paused. “Just one thing - if they’re so different, then why the hell do they shoot so well until they go completely off?”
Chapter 9: Espionage
After Carrot was put in charge of the bulk of the hiring process, the numbers of the Watch increased exponentially. This wasn’t something that was of concern to most people - they would go through the training process as usual, and if they were remarkable enough to be elevated to positions of power anytime soon, it would likely make itself apparent very quickly. After all, you didn’t get too many people in the Watch who were downright malicious. The ones that weren’t wide eyed with an unrealistic view of the job wanted little more than a steady job with decent pay that you didn’t necessarily need to know how to read for.
Nevertheless, Angua couldn’t help but think that there was something a bit off with one particular new recruit. After voicing this to Carrot in that grey mist between sleep and wakefulness, he simply told her that he seemed a nice enough lad, wrapped a strong arm around her shoulders, and, well... she rather forgot about that little detail for the rest of the evening.
He called himself Billy. He obviously wasn’t from Ankh-Morpork, but she couldn’t quite place the accent. So he changed his name, that wasn’t a crime, and enough of their boys had done it for one reason or another. Sometimes you didn’t want the past following you. That didn’t have to mean anything. But then there was that way that his breastplate was always perfectly shined and the scent of anxiety that seemed to follow him around like a shroud, watery grey eyes constantly darting to and fro, let alone that awful, awkward, bleating laugh he let out every time anyone made a dirty joke in a way that suggested that he wasn’t accustomed to even the odd chuckle. Most of all, however, was the fact that he stood perfectly to attention without any instruction and walked with the swift, curt movements of a soldier.
Now, why would a young ex-soldier come all the way to Ankh-Morpork, lie about his name and become a watchman of all things? She sat and watched him from across the room, busily writing a report - perfectly literate, a voice at the back of her mind told her, which was only another mark against him - when a voice from behind her all but purred, “So, you fancy the new boy?”
Sally laughed at Angua’s rapid change in expression and raised her hands in an appeasement. “Easy! Can’t you take a joke?”
Angua glowered. She could glower pretty well by now. She had been exposed to the professionals in that area. Instead of rising to the bait, she merely tilted her head towards Billy. “There’s something off about him.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed,” Sally replied, sinking gracefully into a chair before lounging back and making herself comfortable. “Did you know that his heart goes rapid-fire practically the entire time he’s in the Watch House? That cannot be healthy.”
“He whistles marching songs when he thinks nobody’s listening,” Cheery murmured from beside them, then added on hopefully, “Are we still going out for drinks this evening?”
Even after all these years, Cheery managed to surprise Angua on occasion through her observant nature and the fact that somebody so... so... Cheery could be so suspicious. It was what the job did to them. “So you think something’s up too, right?” Angua said.
“I wonder what he wants,” Sally said in the tones of somebody hankering for a good story, leaning forward.
“I don’t trust him. There’s an angle here. Cheery, do you--”
“--the drinks--” Cheery said again, looking a little downcast.
“--know what he put his full name down on the ledger?”
“It’s right over there, but...”
“He’s certainly not from around here,” Sally added, conveniently forgetting the fact that all three of them were from Uberwald.
They did, in fact, end up going for drinks that evening. To Cheery’s immense disappointment, neither party seemed to want to talk about clothing or makeup or anything of the sort despite them both having magnificent wardrobes that they were unfortunately unable to share with somebody a couple feet shorter than them. They all sipped at strangely coloured drinks usually only seen within the confines of Igor’s lab through straws that mysteriously dipped and curved through their glass, and yes, had to pluck out the occasional umbrella.
“So girls, what have we observed about our Billy?” Sally pronounced, while Angua privately considered what it must be like to say the words so girls without even a tinge of embarrassment.
“He’s only been around for a week. He’s a bit odd, but is he really all that suspicious?” Cheery asked, the kindest of the three. “I can’t see him actually hurting anyone. Maybe he just wanted to get the experience.”
“You don’t get men like that joining the Watch very often,” Sally said. “Besides, the city’s been slow.”
Cheery appeared to be able to accept the scrutiny of a fellow watchman for the sake of genuine entertainment, then turned her head towards Angua.
“It’s not only that he’s odd,” she said thoughtfully. “We’ve got plenty of those. The Watch attracts them in droves. It’s the watching that gets to me. He’s always staring. He’s up to something.”
A thoughtful silence descended upon the group, mostly on account of the fact that Billy was likely as dangerous as head lice: irritating, inconvenient but easily gotten rid of with the application of proper remedies.
“I think he’s a spy.”
“Takes one to know one,” Angua, who had ingested a few too many brightly coloured drinks that evening, muttered.
“That’s right,” Sally continued graciously. “So you’ll have to trust me.”
“Then what’s he spying for? And for who?”
They exchanged glances, none of them eager to say that they hadn’t figured that important detail yet.
“That’s what we’re going to find out,” said Angua. “So he’s a spy. We can be better oh no these Bald Beavers are not sitting well with me...”
“It can wait till tomorrow,” Cheery decided, hopping off her stool none too gracefully.
When they reconvened a week later, they had discovered that the poor boy was made uncomfortable by seamstresses in addition to dirty jokes, the streets, dirty drinking establishments, the poor hygiene of his co-workers, the smell of his boss’ cigars, yelling, extreme profanities, talk of beheading Kings and Nobby Nobbs. They also discovered that he lived in a neighborhood far too nice for a novice watchman’s wage. He went to the clacks on a daily basis, and drank only red wine. He was also unfailingly polite and was seen looking visibly appalled at the Thieves’, Seamstresses’ and Beggars’ Guilds.
Most interestingly, he could fight. And well. He took down an unlicensed thief with a moderate amount of skill and conducted the arrest as tidily as he did everything else, which was easily the most suspicious thing about him. Cheery pointed out that he had lived in Ankh Morpork for two months before coming to the Watch House, ostensibly without a job but with consistent money coming in, and put his name down only as Billy Bahm.
They also discovered that he liked his women large and voluptuous and had a penchant for wearing oily smelling cologne, but that was neither here nor there.
Ah, yes, and one more thing: he sent his daily clacks messages to Zlobenia.
So while Billy strolled home, the three of them just happened to be going to a bar that was one neighborhood away from Billy’s comfortable apartment. It was too easy. Billy did not particularly enjoy being followed, and was uncomfortable with androgynous vampires, dwarves with lipstick and women with threatening smiles alike. He turned around, an air of desperation to him and said, “What?”
“We’re going to a bar,” Angua said.
“Yes, very close to here.” She smiled. It was actually rather cruel, what they were doing, but it was probably an important thing to know.
Billy stared. He stared like a champion.
“So you’re from Zlobenia?” Cheery blurted out, a skilled forensics agent, an excellent copper and a soft touch for delicate young men with a penchant for swooning. She looked over at the others and shrugged. At the end of it, it just meant they skipped the song and dance that was sure to happen.
“What? How did you...”
“We picked it up here and there,” Sally said.
“So? What does Zlobenia have to do with any...” He trailed off in the middle of his sentence, then fiercely shook his head. “You know what? I’m not going to bother. It’s not worth all this.”
“What isn’t?” Angua said at the same time as Sally said “Worth what?” at the same time as Cheery said, “Sorry.”
“You mean you don’t know?” When silence greeted him, he sighed. “Well, you know I’m from Zlobenia.”
“So you were sent by Prince Heinrich or one of the nobles there. We know that much.”
“It’s not as if I’m doing anything wrong,” Billy said miserably. “It’s this place that’s wrong! It’s a wreck! How does anyone ever survive here?”
“We manage,” Angua said calmly.
“Look, I came here to observe the Watch. That’s it. You know that Prince Heinrich is mad about Ankh-Morpork, right? He wants to usher in a new, modern revolution for Zlobenia. And that means Ankh-Morpork. And everyone knows that the Watch is a very large affair in Ankh-Morpork.”
“You were sent here to copy us?”
“To learn from you! But there’s nothing to learn!”
Cheery frowned. “There must be...”
“No! Practically nothing! The locker rooms are filled with nothing but dirty jokes, and there’s trash in the street, and people having s-- having-- fornicating in the street! I thought that you were all good fighters, but even that’s a lie!” Billy said, apparently fed up enough to abandon his sense of self-preservation.
“I wouldn’t go quite that far,” Sally said with a meaningful smile, and Billy looked down, thoroughly cowed.
“Well... all right. But I don’t see how you’re all supposed to be better than us.”
“Money,” Angua said absently, then put a hand on her hip. “So what exactly do you do back home?”
“I’m a palace guard. I was sent because II’m the youngest one there and they thought I’d be able to fit in better than everyone else. Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, I know it’s a joke. So? Are you going to arrest me?”
“For just watching? That’s not really big enough to arrest you for,” said Cheery. “But you didn’t have to go through all this trouble. We get people from other countries here all the time. We would know.”
“The prince wanted everyone to act naturally,” Billy said, ducking his eyes. “I’m leaving soon anyway.”
Angua was moved to at least pity this young man, who happened to look extremely frustrated and could probably do with a little less good old fashioned Ankh-Morpork hospitality and said, “Well, you could learn a thing or two if you’d just stop being afraid of getting your hands dirty. You’re the youngest son of some noble family appointed to be a castle guard, aren’t you?”
“How did you know?”
“Just a guess,” Angua said, deciding not to tell him how it was written all over his face. “What’s your real name?”
Sven didn’t get to go home as soon as he would have wanted to, but he did begin blending in a little better after presumably getting Dirty Talk 101 from one of the men. Angua kept an eye on him, but he was harmless in the end, and went home as quietly as he had come. She did keep an eye on the paper, however, to see if there were any changes in Zlobenia taking effect.
It seemed that the Palace Guard was considering hiring women.
Chapter 10: Extortion
Noting that this is something of a stand-in chapter while I go onto the next list of prompts. I'm not very happy with this particular chapter, so you can expect a better fill of 'extortion' to go up eventually.
Carrot inhaled rulebooks like other boys inhaled food. Or, rather, like Fred and Nobby inhaled food and like Vimes inhaled liquor, which he was doing with vigor at the moment. Fred and Nobby exchanged uneasy glances, but Carrot was oblivious to the Captain’s irritation, and Vimes seemed intent on pickling his brain.
“But Captain Vimes,” Carrot said, “extortion is defined by gaining money through the use of threats of either violence or blackmail, correct?”
Vimes, whose grasp on the law had deteriorated over time, mostly on account of the fact that he no longer got to perform anything remotely having to do with the law, just said, “Right.” It was better than this pink eared novice walking all over him with his citations and his numbers.
“And the Thieves Guild asks for money from civilians so they won’t get their money stolen from them.”
“Sounds about right.”
“So in addition to stealing, the Thieves Guild is guilty of extortion?” Carrot wrinkled his brow in genuine confusion, mouth turning vaguely downwards at the idea of such injustice taking hold of a world that he had been brought up to believe was good and just.
Vimes was getting depressed just watching him. “S’pose so.”
“But we can’t arrest them?”
Vimes shook his head.
“Because they are...”
“An arm of the government, officially,” Vimes said, setting his glass of whiskey down. “But mostly ‘cos they’re a bunch of bloody--”
“Let’s go find another bar,” Fred cut in, less delicately than he thought he did, and stood up. The four of them stumbled out, and in the back of his liquor-ridden mind, Vimes wondered what had happened to the days when you could arrest someone for breaking the law, and wondered if he’d ever see it again.