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TITLE:  Prince Albert in a Can. 

AUTHOR:  Adrienne-in-Berkeley. 

RATING:  PG. 

DISCLAIMER:  Tolkien's, not mine. 

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  Runs around in underwear:  Freakazoid!  Freakazoid! 

One windy evening in late autumn, a squadron of orcs had showed up at Tol-in-Gaurhoth, claiming that they had received word of a mechanical problem, and had been summoned to fix it.  Sauron greeted them with suspicion; he had known of no gas leak, nor did anyone else seem to have heard of one.  Finally, he had sent off a task force to search not only the area the squadron claimed was causing problems, but the entire fortress.  The captain of his forces reported back:  nothing was wrong as the repairmen had described; in fact, everything was in perfect working order.  Their apparently self-nominated leader, however, had seemed quite sure about his information.  He was a relatively tall orc, with a shock of matted, filthy golden hair that stuck out at odd angles from underneath his heavy helm-- some of the orcs created in the early days still had bits of their scalps intact:  apparently, this one did as well. With matted—golden hair?  That couldn't be right.  Sauron scowled.  "There is no gas leak in sector B-12, or anywhere else within the compound.  That is certain." 

"Well, all I know is, we got a call what said you had a leak, and needed some repairs done.  That's certain."

The orc that was sweeping the floor gasped.  

"BEREN SON OF BARAHIR!" Sauron roared, loudly enough that the smallest repairman jumped back fearfully. 

The squad of gas-line repairmen shot each other nervously surreptitious glances, but the Lord of Werewolves did not notice.  He whirled on the orc-captain, black cape sweeping dramatically behind him.  "I thought", he whispered lethally, "that we had gotten rid of Beren son of Barahir."

"Well, I, ah", the orc stammered, "we thought so too.  Drove him out of Dorthonion, we did, well nigh two years ago, straight into the Dungortheb.  With—with all the spiders; we didn't think he could survive it— anyway if he isn't dead, he'd've been lying low for over a year, and that isn't his style-- this could be a copycat, maybe?" 

"No, no", Sauron waved a hand dismissively.  "This is Beren." Sighing, he dropped heavily back into his throne, massaging the bridge of his nose with a gauntleted hand. 

"Er", ventured the head repairman, "Beren son of Barahir?"

 "New to the business, are you lot?  All the Dorthonion rebels were bad, but Beren—he was the worst.  This sort of thing was right up his alley, let me tell you.  Always some group of orcs or other showing up with 'We've got a call about a broken gas pipe, Sauron', and 'Here are the hundred and two pizzas you ordered, Sauron', and that isn't even counting the damn calls—"  He shook his head, and when he looked up again there was a red glint in his eyes. 

"Four years of, 'is your refrigerator running, Sauron?  Do you have Prince Albert in a can, Sauron?'" 

He paused for a moment, seething.

"NO!", he bellowed, sending the vampire doorman skittering behind a table for cover, "I haven't got Prince Albert in a can, and if I DID, I most certainly would NOT let him out, and do you know WHY?  Because I am LIEUTENANT TO THE DARK LORD, that's why!  If I had got Prince Albert in a can, I would not release him!  I, Gorthaur Lord of Werewolves, would show no pity to the miserable Prince Albert!  I would keep him there, bound in his shackles of processed tin, laughing as he screamed for mercy, until his soul plunged to the bitter depths of MIND-NUMBING CAPTIVE DESPAIR!

"And you know what else?  My refrigerator is NOT running away!  It is stationary!  It is immobile!   It is not capable of self-generated motive power!  It may be running, but is staying RIGHT WHERE IT BLOODY WELL IS!" 

There was a long pause.  "Ah, well", said the foreman, shaking his head, "best of luck catching him, but if there really isn't any gas leak, then we'd better get going back to Angband."

Sauron narrowed his eyes.  "Back to Angband?  Repair squads aren't dispatched from Angband, they're dispatched from—" 

Suddenly, Sauron was aware of a fuzzy sensation sparkling at the back of his thoughts, something that felt insidiously right and familiar, but which his instincts told him was totally alien.  The sensation grew dimmer, but he concentrated on isolating it, until a series of images began to emerge into his conscious mind: a landscape he had not seen for countless thousands of years; green hills and white sands and the ocean beyond-- and then, a spectacle which he had often heard about but never actually seen:  white ships with giant carved swansheads at their prows, white sails sweeping to the sky like wings.  On their decks were elves fighting: at first they seemed equally matched, but one group gained the advantage and kept it, slaughtering the others like they were animals at butchering-time, swords running red with blood--   

--and suddenly, the group of gas-line repairmen wasn't a group of gas-line repairmen anymore.  With an anguished gasping cry, the leader crumpled, blond hair now shining and well-kept.  The shortest non-repairman darted forward, catching him before he hit the floor; the others immediately formed a defensive semicircle around them.  They were not orcs, but they were wearing orc armor—armor that no longer had the "Morgoth Inc.Water and  Power Services" emblazoned across the breastplates, and which Sauron now recognized as that of the orc-patrol that had gone missing some two weeks before in upper Talath Dirnen, in the foothills of the Ered Wethrin.   

Nine of the ten were Noldor-elves, of that he was certain, but other than that, he had no idea.  The tenth, though, the smallest one who had been so afraid at the shout of an outlaw's name, who had been first to rush to the fallen ex-foreman—yes, that one was most definitely very familiar. 

"Have you got Prince Albert in a can?"

Yes, thought Sauron, with a dark smile, yes, I believe I do.