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Ill-met in Amtor (or The Wrath of Con)

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Join Frank and Sadie Doyle as they walk beyond belief in tonight's episode “Ill-met in Amtor, or The Wrath of Con”

Our story begins in the darkened confines of a New York hotel saloon, as our intrepid heroes venture forth from their home on a mission to explore strange new bars, to seek out new drinks and new alcoholic pleasures, to boldly drink where no fan has drunk before.

“Oh Frank, look at all the darling little umbrellas and their darling little drinks! They're all blue and peach and green – like the rainbow, but drinks. I hardly know where to start!” Sadie Doyle exclaimed, gazing at the novelty drinks before her. Drinks made in the Doyle household tended to be rather more drink-colored.

Her adoring husband wrapped one arm around her fur-coated shoulders comfortingly. “Don't be ridiculous, Sadie-love,” said Frank, “Why not try them all?”

Sadie tweaked his nose and grinned up at him. “Franklin W. Doyle, you are as wise as you are irresistably attractive,” she declared. They stood there for a moment, surrounded by cheap wood paneling and hotel guests, obliviously besotted.

Suddenly Frank's eyes widened, and he gasped in horror. “My dear, I've just had a terrible thought,” he said. “What if these drinks contain something that is not drinks?”

“Like fruit juice?” she asked

“It's terrible but it might just be true,” her husband said in a shocked and considering tone.

Sadie turned on her heel and marched right up to where the bartender stood, leaning toward him across the bar. “Bartender, is this true? Do these drinks contain things that are not liquor? Speak!” she demanded.

The bartender in question took this intrusion with remarkable equaminity. “May I suggest the Amtorian Sunrise? It contains...”

“But does it have fruit in it?” interrogated Sadie Doyle.

“Fruit-flavored liqueur,” the bartender assured her.

“That's all right then,” she said, once again all smiles. “I will take three of those.”

“Why three?” asked Frank, “Those drinks are not divisible by two.”

“Why, one for you, one for me, and one for us to admire!” Sadie explained, as if to a slow child.

“Of course,” said the bartender, who then shimmered off to do mixological magic.

“You know, it is so restful to be in a warm, dark place full of alcohol,” sighed Frank, as he settled into a highbacked chair at a table near the bar, “Where no one is calling upon us with supernatural situations to solve, and absolutely no magical hijinks ensue.”

“That's what's lovely about bars,” said Sadie, curling up in the chair opposite him, “They haven't got a doorbell to ring!”

“Bartender, two Amtorian Sunrises,” ordered a voice behind them.

“Fellow blue liquor enthusiasts?” Frank wondered.

“Fellow fans of the Carson Napier series, but of course!” said the rather hearty, rah-rah, woman to whom the voice belonged.

“Pardon?” asked Sadie.

“The books, Carson Napier. Amtor. Pirates of Venus? I'm Sam, this is Will, and we are the committee of the groundbreaking new science fiction convention Amtoria, taking place right now in this very hotel,” she expounded, “And we need a drink. Badly.”

“I thought we were New York Con? Or the International Convention of Science Fiction?” asked her friend.

“We'll work that out later,” Sam assured Will.

Five Sunrises appeared and were distributed to their respective drinkers.

“Now this is the stuff,” said Frank.

“You're as delicious as you are beautiful,” Sadie crooned.

“Thank you, my dear,” her husband said.

“Oh, not you,” she scolded, “I was talking to this drink!”

They laughed and clinked their glasses in a toast.

But this lovely domestic picture was punctuated by a rather reedy voice. “I'll have an Amtorian Sunrise, if you please.”

“You!” Will exclaimed, “How dare you!”

“I think you'll find this is a free country. Free hotel bar? You know what I mean. This isn't your convention!” insisted the intruder, who looked barely old enough to drink.

“It is too,” said Sam.

“Meeting rooms one and two are your convention, sure,” admitted the interloper, “but this bar is the abode of free men!”

“Hear hear!” echoed Frank.

“... And women,” said Sadie.

“Fine. We can't stop you from using the bar, but this is a private convention. We ordered you, and all of your malcontent little crew, to leave!” Sam snarled, hopping off her barstool. They glared at each other. Will took another drink, and gazed up at the ceiling with a pained expression.

“Now see here, young... persons,” remonstrated Sadie, “Whatever is this all about? Surely you can celebrate Amtor (whatever that is) together in peace? There can't be that many people who want to celebrate Amtor at all, you know. I should think you'd be glad of the company!”

“Not after what they've done!” Sam said incredulously, shooting a murderous side glare at her rival.

“What did you do?” Sadie asked.

“I have a pamphlet!” exclaimed the exile, brandishing a pamphlet.

“They were planning to distribute them to the entire convention. We found a couple hundred of them stashed under a radiator!” Will chipped in.

“Read it. We aren't ashamed! We're speaking truth to ill-gotten power!” said the pamphleteer, and pressed the little booklet upon Frank, who began to read, starting with the title page.

“BEWARE! A pamphlet by K. Davis,” read Frank.

“Isn't it great? I printed up all two hundred copies all by myself,” said the now-named K. Davis.

“The lurid yellow paper is a nice touch,” Sadie admitted, dubiously.

“You who are reading this pamphlet have come to attend the Amtoria International Convention of Science Fiction. You are to be complimented for your taste in fiction and events. But BE AWARE OF ANY MOVEMENT TO COERCE OR BULLY YOU INTO SUBMISSION!” Frank read.

“Something something something, not using democratic methods something something they're all fascists. Something something hail Moloch.” He paused.

“... Hail Moloch?” Frank asked, looking at K. Davis.

“Oh dear,” said Sadie.

“You see what we mean?” asked Will.

“I'm beginning to think I do,” Sadie said.

“They're all communists!” exclaimed Sam.

“Thank you!” said K. Davis.

“And atheists!” accused Sam.

“That too,” Davis admitted smugly.

“Which is singularly awkward for you, since Moloch tends to appreciate worship,” Frank pointed out.

“Oh we 'worship' him in a strictly scientific, theoretical way,” Davis assured him. “He objectively exists and objectively needs horrific sacrifice. To each according to their needs!”

“He does not objectively exist. What are you talking about?” Will asked, astonished.

“... I wouldn't say that if I were you,” Frank said with a sigh.

“There's nothing scientific or theoretical about it! You're a disgrace to science fiction!”

“Perhaps this isn't the most productive...” Sadie offered, in a rather weak voice.

“Fine! We were waiting for the banquet,” said K. Davis, “Poetic irony, don't you know. But I'll summon him right here! Right now!” The ex-conventioneer threw a powder into the air and commenced an eldritch chant.

“Ix-nay on the od-gay. Wait, that sounded wrong,” Frank said. “Can't we stop this?”

A great BOOSH! noise sounded behind them, and the smell of sulfur and incense filled the air. “Too late,” said Sadie, with a wince.

A great, bronze-colored, bull-headed figure with burning eyes stood among them in the workaday hotel bar, trailing with him smoky mists of the otherworld.

“Who summons Moloch?” the being intoned in a vast and resonant voice.

“It is I, your worshipper, who has called upon you before, to dedicate to you my soul and your reward!” shrieked K. Davis.

The giant figure rolled his eyes and sighed. “Monotheists. They keep trying to trade me their souls. What use have I of souls? Give to me the flesh of thy enemies!”

“Right there, oh mighty Moloch,” the fan said, gesturing at the erstwhile drinking companions.

“But not us,” protested Sadie.

“Enh, they're okay. Not the ones in the fancy clothes, okay?” said Davis in a more natural voice. “They're mundanes,”

“Well I never!” exclaimed Frank, offended.

“Not the time, my dear,” chided his wife.

“Go for the ones in the little name tags,” said the triumphant K. Davis.

Moloch looked at the quaking convention committee, and took a deep and satisfied breath. “Mmmm. The odor of fresh young bureacracts. Delicious!”

“Hold!” said Sadie, holding up a hand in warning.

“Hold?” asked Moloch.

“Hold?” asked Frank.

“Hold!” repeated Sadie in an ever so slightly quavering voice, and went on, “Oh great Moloch, consider a counter-offer!”

“A what?” asked Sam

“Roll with it, my good fan,” replied Frank, under his breath.

“These are two rival factions, vast Moloch. Perhaps you should see which has more to offer you!” Sadie said, in a reconciling sort of voice.

“Right,” agreed Frank.

“Right!” said Will.

“Well? Speak, mortals! I, Moloch, will entertain any reasonable offer. You, rivals, make me an offer!” Moloch intoned, turning his mighty head toward his new propitiators.

“We have over two hundred members! We've already sold tickets for next year! I'm sure we've got a lot to offer,” said Will. “Sam, offer the god something.”

“Um. How do you feel about masked bacchanals?” Sam offered in a somewhat wavery tone, then grew more assured as she went on. “Men and women competing to create the most outlandish and revealing costumes, drinking deeply and retiring to their chamber to have ecstatic, anonymous copulation!”

“Will they be virgins?” asked Moloch.

“... Not after the first time, no. But I'm sure they'll be very enthusiastic!” Sam enthused.

“And will this bacchanal be dedicated to me?” Moloch asked.

“We haven't come up with a convention mascot yet. How do you feel about an adorable little bull-headed guy called Malky?” offered Will.

“Well...” said Moloch, in a half-convinced sort of way.

“Quick, somebody throw in a sweetener!” Frank said in an urgent tone of voice.

“If I may, Mr. Moloch,” said the bartender, who had returned to offer rescue, “If you leave my bar today without eating any of the customers, I will personally design a drink that will knock off your proverbial socks. It may be orange or green or blood red or any color you wish. We'll call it the Blood of Moloch, and I can provide it to their bacchanals – at a very reasonable group rate – is that acceptable?”

“Cunning!” admired Sadie.

Will saw the opening and jumped to agree. “We'll serve it by the pitcher! Fans can't resist a free drink.”

“Quite right!” said Frank.

“What about sacrifice?” asked Moloch. “I like sacrifice, the younger the better.”

Sam laughed, on familiar territory again. “Well, we're fans, you know,” she assured the giant fiery god. “We'll probably raise our children to spend way too much time arguing about spacecraft and alien languages, sacrificing their chance to grow into normal human beings!”

“Unconventional, but not bad,” said Moloch. “You, who summoned me, give me your counter-offer!”

“Well you can eat our enemies,” offered K. Davis

“And?” asked Moloch, sounding impatient.

“Well, we're starting a convention too! Since they kicked us out. A newer, better, free one!”

“You're meeting at the coffee shop across the street. You have like six guys.”

“Yeah, but they're better guys! Dedicated to revolutionizing the genre, and bringing meaning and politics to science fiction!”

“Don't care.”

“And you'll throw in the drink, of course, bartender.”

“I don't believe so, sir. You summoned a hungry Canaanite blood god into my bar, you may deal with it,” said the bartender firmly.

“Call me back when science fiction has a real revolution. You know, one with death and blood,” Moloch dismissed

“You could have provided that!” K. Davis complained.

“That's a bit potluck of you, isn't it? Expecting a guest to provide his own blood,” sniffed Sadie.

“What she said. Do not call upon Moloch until you can compete with masked bacchanals and corrupting the next generation,” Moloch decreed.

“Aw, nuts,” said the would-be revolutionary.

Moloch turned to his new, unexpected high priests. “Now, let's talk about that mascot. Can I get a couple plush Malkies for me and the minions? They'll get such a kick...”

“Bartender, another Amtorian Sunrise each for myself and the lady!” said Frank.

“And your good self, too, on us,” said Sadie. “You deserve one!”

“Very good, ma'am,” said the bartender, and their glasses clinked.

Tune in next time for our next spine-tingling episode, “Tail As Old As Time”, in which an innocent dinosaur is cursed into the form of a handsome prince!