Revolutions (Part One, Chapter One)
Disclaimer: Everybody belongs to Terry Pratchett. The author is in no way affiliated with, nor has ever met, Mr. Pratchett. She claims no ownership of any of the major characters. She has no money. Don't sue.
Format notes: The footnotes in the text are after the segment containing them. Double squiggly lines indicate a new character segment.
Author's Notes: I have, as seems to be my unfortunate destiny, started another fanfic. In some way I may actually finish this and pass most of my finals. Maybe. Anyway, thanks a whole lot to my beta, samvimes, who was magnificent. Wonderful. Extremely helpful. Add any other praise you may desire.
'Suffer Not Injustice' Vimes was known by many names. He was the Commander of the Watch in the pre-patrician era and was known among the Watchmen as 'Stoneface' Vimes. Among the citizens he was 'Suffer Not Injustice' Vimes. After the beheading of King Lorenzo, Ankh-Morpork's last king to modern times, he was the leader of Vimes's Ironheads. In that universe, he lost power of the city after six months, was hung, and buried in five graves.
But we all know about the Trousers of Time. In one universe, one that sprung off of the accepted one at a critical moment, 'Stoneface' Vimes, leader of the Ironheads, was also known as something else.
All hail King Vimes, of Ankh and Morpork.
Lorenzo the Kind, as he would later be known in certain universes, was not a kind man. He was short and fat, with a general look of unpleasantness about him. His rosy jowls quivered at their own discretion and his thick, curly black hair was greasy and matted. His beard, made of the same hair though slightly more wiry, contained the crumbs and drippings of meals recent and long past. Not surprisingly, he didn't have a wife.
His habits were even more repulsive than his appearance. He enjoyed the company of young virgins; an idea acquired while in Klatch, a desert region across the Circle Sea where the heathens were too busy fighting one another to get anything accomplished. What he did with the young virgins was quite unknown to anyone, though they tended not to be seen again, at least under the same name. He also enjoyed torturing the unfortunate victims who had committed small crimes. Petty theft, disobeying curfew and carrying a concealed weapon* were all one-way tickets to the torture chamber.
The King was in his dungeon now, watching a young man be stuck with red hot pokers. The man was apparently guilty of causing a domestic dispute. Right now, he was begging to resolve any sort of domestic dispute in the city. Lorenzo watched the man press himself against the wall and writhe as he was poked continuously. His pleas fell on overly large and deaf ears.
Lorenzo enjoyed watching his prisoners get tortured, which was the truly sickening part of it. He saw it as some form of daily entertainment. Once a day, perhaps twice, he would descend to the dungeons of Ankh-Morpork's Winter Palace and observe the lawful torture of a convict. But convicts were growing short these days, Lorenzo observed. He would have to start rationing them out or something of the sort. He was concerned. Surely the crime in the twin cities had not decreased that much?
It was on this matter that the King found himself in the Throne Room at four o'clock in the afternoon. He was meeting with his Commander of the Watch, Commander 'Suffer Not Injustice' Vimes. Lorenzo despised Vimes with every bloated molecule in his body. The man was concerned with the right of the working man and of the treatment of criminals, something that no one prior to Vimes in the post had had the courage to approach. But Vimes was bold, oh yes, and he wanted something for the people. He wanted royalty to pay them some respect -- he wanted them to have a better life, and Lorenzo was not going to bow to that wish.
In Lorenzo's own private and rather warped world, royalty was royalty and peasants were peasants. The peasants respected the royalty, because if the royalty were the people making sure everything happened all right. The royalty made sure that there was food for the peasants to eat and that the criminals were off the street and important things like that.
In Lorenzo's world royalty did not respect peasants. Peasants were the people who did the work and the heavy lifting and that was not something to be respected. Anyone could be a peasant; but it took gifts of the gods to make a man royalty.
*You wouldn't have to /use/ the weapon, of course. Just having it pointed to a criminal mind.
It was noon. The Commander of the Ankh-Morpork city watch was sitting in his office, doing paperwork. He rarely did paperwork. But he was doing it now; in order to keep his mind off of a much more unpleasant endeavor. Today he would have to go to the Palace and meet with the King; something he rarely did but disliked intensely. Doubtless Lorenzo would be curious as to the reason the numbers of convicts was descending. He would want to know what was happening to his playthings.
Vimes did not want to explain that. Lately he had given the Watch instructions to let little crimes go with nothing more than a warning, which was good enough for most people. This had been a problem for some of the more zealous young watchmen, but it had been sorted out and now the number of repeated crimes was decreasing at, to Lorenzo and his cronies, an alarming rate. Of course, the alarming thing to them was that Vimes and his men were allowing the crimes to be repeated.
The hours seemed to fly past as Vimes mechanically signed all of the worthy papers on his desk, all the while formulating the perfect way to tell the King that the decrease in prisoners was because word had gotten out about Lorenzo torturing his victims.* Perhaps that would fool the King and kill two birds with one stone, figuratively speaking.
At about a quarter after three in the afternoon, a knock came at his door. The Commander growled a brief 'Enter' and the door squeaked open to admit the Captain of the Day Watch, Niccolo Indeja. Indeja was short and dark-skinned, presumed to be from some country on the Vieux River where they ran through the streets being chased by bulls. He was as close to Vimes as any of the Watchmen, and followed the Commander with a fierce loyalty. Vimes usually discouraged such blind faith in any other watchmen, but Indeja had been a special case. Vimes didn't know why. "Would you like company to the Palace today, sir?"
The Commander signed his name fiercely with the mention of the word 'Palace'.
"I believe I'd like you to wait outside, Captain Indeja," Vimes replied, after some thought. There was another silence, in which a document was read and disposed of in the wastebasket.
"Are you feeling alright, Commander?"
Vimes sighed and ran his fingers through the thin brown hair on his head. At the age of 35, it was already streaked with gray around the temples.
"You know how I feel about Lorenzo, Niccolo."
"Yes, Commander." Vimes stared hard at the Captain, in a way which suggested he wasn't really looking at the Captain at all – rather, some inner vision. He pushed down the brim of his helmet to the desk and twirled the whole helmet around the finger, a habit that always emerged when the Commander was deep in thought. Finally, he rose, put the helmet on his head***, and grabbed Indeja by the shoulder, leading him from the office.
"But I do believe, my good man, that I have a plan." There was a certain ice in those words. Niccolo winced slightly and followed his Commander.
*The threat of torture looming over one's head tends to be a deterrent. Ask any High School student.
***Like Commander Samuel Vimes, who existed in some future, Stoneface Vimes had a deep hatred of plumes. This presented a problem, because all officer helmets had plumes. After Vimes had been established as Commander, citizens could identify officers in the Watch by the decrepit purple bits of feathers sticking out of the sharp tops of their helmets.
Vimes' blood began to boil almost as soon as he entered the throne room. Lorenzo was sitting in the golden throne of Ankh, surrounded by an entourage of young children. It was said that Lorenzo loved children, and to a casual observer it would have not been able to be denied. But Vimes paid careful attention to the nine to twelve year olds surrounding the King and he could see fear in their eyes. Fear and confusion. And if there is one thing that follows through the Vimes bloodline in every universe, it is the desire to help the afraid and confused.
"Good afternoon, your Highness," Vimes said formally, stooping low in a bow. "I see you have once again called the children out on official business." Lorenzo gave Vimes a haughty glare. Vimes glared back.
"You know how much I treasure my dear children, Commander." He looked at the circle of faces surrounding him. "I would never dream of keeping the children away for any amount of time." A small girl at the back looked as if she was about to cry. "Besides, I hope the business on which you have been called, Commander, does not have much importance."
"That is certainly to be hoped, Highness," Vimes said, averting his gaze and fixing it on a point about six inches above and left of the King's ear.
"I have noticed a serious decrease in my prisoners, Commander. I hope you aren't spreading rumors of any sort." Vimes thought, in the privacy of his own head 'Why should I spread rumors? People see the mangled bodies being carted down the streets.'
"No, sir. I merely arrest citizens when a crime is committed. All of my men are instructed to do the same."
"Are you able to explain this decrease in prisoners, Commander?"
"Yes, your highness." Vimes took a deep gulp and plunged on, with the trepidation of a man about to do The Right Thing, but most probably going to die because of it. "Some of the citizens have seen the corpses of the prisoners, highness, and rumor spreads quickly."
The color in Lorenzo's face turned from the normal pasty gray to an angry red in a matter of seconds. He rose from his throne, wobbled on his feet slightly to get his balance, and clenched his fists. "We do not cart the bodies through the main streets, Commander." The children behind the king shrunk back. Lorenzo descended the stairs, approaching the Commander of the Watch. Vimes didn't flinch. "The bodies of the prisoners are not even disposed of in public cemeteries."
Standing face to face, the two men were brilliant in contrast. One was fat and soft, while the other was lean, with every inch of fat replaced by sinew*. The sun had darkened the Commander's skin, and the king's was pasty with too many years under elaborate roofs and curtains. "It only takes on person to start a rumor, your highness." Lorenzo purpled with rage. It was good Vimes continued staring at the wall, because if he hadn't, he surely would have doubled over with laughter at the sight of the king, who at this point resembled a purple soulcake marshmallow duck.
"I want every person charged of any petty crime in the books admitted to the prison!" Lorenzo roared, spraying the Commander with spittle. "Forget the fines, Commander. Leave them all to me. We shall see who is at the bottom of this." Lorenzo attempted to collect himself and failed. "You may go, Commander. Now." He turned on his heel and waddled back toward his throne.
"I'm not sure if that would be a good idea, your highness. Any number of petty, fined crimes are committed every day. The cells would be full by lunchtime." Lorenzo did not turn. The children, who could see his face, were getting looks of horror on their faces.
"I want them all in the cells, Commander."
"Yes, your highness." Vimes bowed and left the room, praying, for once, to any god that might be listening, that Lorenzo would not hurt those children.
*There was a statistic by the Omnians - who believed the world to be round - that said you could fit over a million suns into the world. One of the children, who was an Omnian and a brilliant mathematician, was quickly figuring how many Vimeses you could fit in a Lorenzo.
Captain Indeja was waiting outside the Palace, watching the street life of Broad Way go about its daily business. If he looked to his left, he could see a storm rolling in from across the plains. It didn't look to be an overly large storm, so he wasn't worried. What was more, he was Day Watch, which meant he could go to his flat and keep warm and dry for the night.
When the Commander of the Watch emerged from the Palace, he was obviously extremely deep in thought. Indeja fell into the Policeman's step beside him and watched his Commander with a mild look of concern. As they passed the gate, the Commander gave good, hard look at the guards on either side of the wooden door.
Indeja was more than mildly worried when the arrived back at the Watch House. The Commander had not said a word the whole time, and had been observing with furious scrutiny every alley and side street they had passed. Even for a watchman this was odd, especially when the aforementioned watchman is a seasoned and ranked member of the force. "Is everything alright, sir?" Indeja asked after a while, when his Commander had been seated at his desk.
"No, Captain." Indeja waited for further explanation, and when he saw none forthcoming, began to leave. "Captain, how dedicated are you to the Watch?" With his hand on the doorknob, and distant thunder in his ears, the question put a stop to any thought processes that had been going at the moment. He turned, slowly.
"It's my job," he said, after some thought.
"And nothing more than that?"
"Is anything able to be more than that?"
"Hmf." Vimes leaned back in the chair and stared out of the window, spinning the helmet slowly. Indeja could see some pretty serious thoughts swimming behind his Commander's eyes. "Do you serve the law, Indeja, or Lorenzo?" The question was posed with much thought. Indeja almost felt bad for the simple answer he offered forth.
"Lorenzo has warped the law. I serve the city, sir."
"Hmf." Vimes continued to spin the helmet, slowly. The sensual noise the copper brim made on the varnished wood began to ring in the Captain's ears. "Lorenzo has, figuratively speaking, raped this city, Captain."
"Yes, sir." Vimes turned to look at the Captain, searching for any trace of dishonesty in the small man's eyes. He found none.
"Is this how most of the watchmen feel, Niccolo?"
"Yes, sir. Most of the citizens too. You do have your pockets of loyalists, but there aren't many these days." Indeja paused for a moment, and then continued. "I don't understand how he hasn't been overthrown yet, sir. Genua just hanged their king." That seemed to do it for the Commander.
"I want all the Watchmen in the King's Head as soon as possible, Indeja. Both night and day watches. We might, possibly, have a king to overthrow."
The Palace guards were standing outside of the gates, tall, proud and at perfect attention, despite the drizzle. Citizens could see a storm brewing, and were beginning to duck into their houses. The rain started to pour when the guards caught sight of the mob.
Moving up Broad Way was a mass of breastplates, badges and lances. Behind them, a group of citizens were advancing as well, men and women pouring out of houses when they realized the purpose. Pitchforks and old pikes were dripping with rain. At the head of the mob was Commander Stoneface Vimes, City Watch, and Captain Niccolo Indeja, Day Watch. Water was pouring off of the Commander's brown leather overcoat. One of the guards called for the Palace regiment.
Black and gray clouds were bunching on the horizon, the thunder was low and rumbling, and the mass of wet leather and rusted copper and soaked wood was still coming. The houses on either side of Broad Way almost seemed to hunch down over the mob. Halfway down Broad Way, to the gate guards' tremendous relief, the mob stopped. Lorenzo had appeared on the front balcony of the Palace. "What is the meaning of this?" he bellowed, over the growls of the storm.
"Freedom for Ankh-Morpork!" yelled a sergeant from behind the Commander. The man's name was Sergeant Donnelson. He was a tall, broad, black man from Genua who was much better than the Commander or the Captain at projecting his voice. "Step down now, Lorenzo, for your own sake!" A clanking from just around the side of the Palace was beginning to funnel down Broad Way.
"Says who, may I ask!" Lorenzo had turned the fetching purple color at this point, though whether this was from yelling or rage was unclear. Vimes still wasn't looking, though. The Palace regiment had begun to march down Broad Way. The rain soaked the purple plumes on their heads, and the sound of wet leather sandals hitting the cobbles added to the symphony of the rain pattering off of slate roofs and clinking onto the copper helmets of watchmen and the iron pots the citizens had put on their heads.
"The Ironheads!" Donnelson roared. The regiment drew closer and closer, until all Vimes could see was the haughty expression on the face of their General. When Vimes could see every bubbles of air forming in the foam of the General's horse's mouth, he drew his sword. It was a signal. It was The Signal. "Charge!" The Sergeant howled. With a cry that raised every hair on the necks of the soldiers and sent the horse of their leader backing into a panicked rear, the watchmen and citizens ran forward. Leather and skin and water pounded the cobbles.
The two masses met and immediately tried to spread out. The city streets provided little accommodation for this, and thus the press of bodies behind the men actually doing the fighting was such that the front lines were essentially crushing each other to death. People began to fight on top of other people. Stoneface Vimes, who was in the middle of the fray, was hauling on the bit of the general's horse and trying to knock the general off with the flat of his sword. The general, who had a much thinner and showier sword, was blocking every move Vimes attempted. Seeing no other options, Vimes hacked the man's left foot off. The general screamed and fell to the ground, causing the already panicked animal to let out the closest thing anyone in the fray had heard to a roar and whirled in a circle, hindquarters tucked under its own body. Vimes, having what he had been fighting for, grabbed the mane and the saddle horn and swung himself on.
Things from a higher view were different. They were spinning, for one, and the only solid thing holding Stoneface up in the air was an animal half mad with panic and dancing a rather complicated four-step. But also from on the horse, Vimes could see his men were winning. They weren't organized and they knew how to fight dirty, and that was more than anyone could say for the soldiers. Damn the Marquis of Fantallier.
Some of the watchmen and citizens had managed to crawl over the fighting lines and were taking on the Palace guards, who had reinforced the back. Strangely enough, some of the reinforcements had literally stabbed their comrades in the back and ripped the plumes from their helmets, joining in the fray on the side of the watchmen. The rain was mixing with blood to create the watery sort of red dye that was flowing over the cobbles. Vimes blinked some of the water out of his eyes, and looked at the Palace. Lorenzo couldn't move or think very fast, but he wasn't stupid and at this point had probably realized that the only way to get out of this alive was to escape. He would be heading for the back exit.
Vimes spurred the horse through the mass of soldiers and watchmen. When clear of the central mass of the fight he dug his heels into the animals sides. It roared again and shot forward. Vimes had enough riding sense to lean forward and grab the mane of the animal. His left leg was sliding on the saddle; the left side flap was slick with the blood of the General. The horse bounded up the stone stairs of the Palace and right up to the oak doors, where it shoved its haunches underneath itself and slid to a halt, rearing before impact. Stoneface swung himself off the animal and let it gallop off toward the racehorse stables, where it could smell others of its species. Vimes pushed open one door and walked calmly forward into the Palace, dripping flecks of sweat, foam and, mud and blood on the floor, as well as creating a trail of water behind himself.
Lorenzo the Kind was running through the back halls of the Palace, insofar as the term running could be applied. The revolution outside was growing in pitch and fervor, as more and more citizens joined the fray. In an attempt to make a hasty escape, Lorenzo had fled the upper floors of the Palace, and was trying desperately to remember where the back door was.
The general had gone down off of his horse, Lorenzo had been told. That meant that Vimes was in charge of this. Vimes knew to take out a leader, as that was the mens' weak point. The king stopped short at a fork in the passage, looked both ways, and fled down the left passage. A very dark, ominous presence was following him.
King Lorenzo the Kind was apprehended by Commander Stoneface Vimes of the City Watch shortly after the battle began. The following day, a cold frosty morning in late Ember, Stoneface Vimes beheaded the King with a battle axe in front of the populace of Ankh and Morpork.
The people cheered as the King's head fell into the wicker basket. A sort of party then commenced, proving that Ankh-Morpork is always a party waiting to happen.* The Amazing Party of Ankh-Morpork was also easily adaptable; it could turn into whatever sort was convenient to current events. At the moment, it was raiding party/beer fest.
Vimes looked at the bloodied axe and at the man beside him, Captain Indeja. Indeja wasn't looking very well, at the moment, as he had been on the wrong end of someone's sword the previous day. However, the watchmen recruited the closest thing they could to a doctor and had him treat the wounded. Indeja's wound was not deep, and he would survive.
"So that's that, I suppose," Vimes said softly, looking at the blood-soaked wicker of the basket and the shocked look on the former face of the former King.
"What are you going to do about the cities, sir? What sort of leadership will you be planning?" Indeja's eyes glinted at this. Vimes had always suspected a small thirst for power in the man, and if not power -- then Indeja was extremely attracted to politics, for some odd reason.
"What would you suggest, Captain?" Vimes laid the bloody axe on the platform and began to descend the steps into the party. The Captain limped along beside him.
"Well, all precedents suggest that you install yourself as King, sir."
"King?" Vimes thought this over, staring off into some middle-distance as the two beat the familiar track to the Watch House. "I'm not sure I like the idea of another King, Captain."
"There could of course, sir, be another office created. However, it is highly recommended, Commander, that you lead the city into the future."
"Lead the city into the future . . ." Vimes thought this over one more time and scowled. "You're not pulling my leg or anything, are you? They're really going to want me to lead them?"
Indeja looked pained, if not from his wound than from his superior's neglect of classical study.
"Sir, in every story myth and faerie tale the leader of the people's rebellion leads the city or town or what have you into the future." Vimes stopped short in front of the Watch House door and stared ferociously into middle distance, thinking furiously. Indeja, realizing the Vimes' mind was probably not in this particular time period at the moment, leaned against the wall to the Watch House and watched the distant festivities.
"Put out word," Vimes said finally and suddenly, "that there is to be a coronation tomorrow, and that all nobles under Lorenzo are to be out of the city by midnight. No exceptions." With those words he stormed into the Watch House and up to the Commander's Office.
Niccolo Indeja grinned in a way that would have been best described as "Slightly Sinister", turned around and limped off to find Donnelson.
Niccolo Indeja existed in every universe up to the point of the rebellion. In the common universe, however, the revolution turned out quite differently for Captain Indeja. In the universe where the Ironheads were overthrown, Niccolo Indeja was killed.
*Or a mob waiting to happen. It is sometimes very hard to tell the difference.