Author's Note: Okay, this is absolutely the last chapter of this story, I promise. I think it's pretty interesting that everyone assumed I'd leave the punishment bit out; I always intended to finish this properly, but I got lazy and forgetful and started about three other stories without finishing this one. I do that a lot, as I'm sure you've noticed.
Anyway, here's the end. Enjoy. I hope.
"—an omniscope, several large candles and a box full of gerbils," Vimes read out from his notebook. "That's everything they had with them, sir."
"My word, what an interesting array of magical paraphernalia," said Vetinari dryly. He stared coldly at the two red-faced students standing in front of his desk. "Would you care to explain, gentlemen?"
Drongo tried a smile but it soon withered and died under the force of the Patrician's stare. "Er…it was a joke?"
Vetinari raised an eyebrow. "A student prank of some sort, yes?"
"Yeah, something like that. We didn't mean any harm, did we, Skazz?" Drongo nudged his friend.
"Eep," squeaked Skazz, his face a frozen rictus of terror.
"That was a no, my lord," sighed Drongo. "He always clams up like this when he's nervous."'
Vetinari smiled. "Really? And why should Mr Hepplewhite be so nervous, if all he's done is play a harmless joke on me? Are you nervous, Mr Turnipseed?"
Drongo smiled back. "Not particularly, my lord." Standing beside the Patrician's desk, Vimes grinned. This was going to be fun.
Vetinari's smile got even more pleasant. "Although, I do find myself wondering; isn't the very definition of a joke something that is amusing?" The smile disappeared and the stare returned. "I didn't find it very amusing. Did you, Mr Turnipseed?"
"Well, maybe a little bit--"
"Ah. So you find the idea of me posing for an extremely detailed naked portrait amusing, do you? Or the thought of me filling the Great Hall with pillows and calling it my Fortress of Doom? Changing the names of all the Guilds and organisations and calling Lord Downey my 'General'? Forcing my secretary to wear a golden bikini and perform sexually explicit and highly disturbing dances in order to distract anyone from coming into my presence uninvited? That manoeuvre with the sock in particular, was that amusing to you? Having me interrogate an elderly woman because you planted the suggestion in my mind that she was a threat? And last but certainly not least, making me attempt to engage in sexual relations with an extremely enthusiastic male octogenarian—Commander Vimes, if you don't stop laughing this second, I swear there will be trouble—was that funny, Mr Turnipseed?"
Drongo hesitated. "Er…yes?"
"I see. Well, maybe we just have a difference of opinion; let's see what some other people think. Drumknott, did you find Mr Boggis rubbing baby oil onto your semi-naked body and forcing you to perform your little dance over twelve times in the past two days funny?"
Drumknott glared at the students. "No sir."
"Commander Vimes, did you find being called a Warrior of Justice and having to arrest an old woman funny?"
Vimes opened his mouth to reply.
"Before you say anything, Vimes, allow me to show you the designs I personally came up for the new Watch uniforms while under the influence of Mr Turnipseed and Mr Hepplewhite." Vetinari handed him a piece of paper.
Vimes' face fell. "This would've been the new uniform?"
"But it's just a helmet and a leather posing pouch."
"I know, Vimes. Leather bras would've been provided for your female officers of course."
"But…but why am I the one pictured wearing this?"
Vetinari smiled. "You are the Commander, Vimes, so I thought any new uniform should be tailored primarily around you. Now, do you find it funny? Or would you actually prefer this to your current uniform?"
"No sir, not funny at all, sir," said Vimes hurriedly.
"I thought not," Vetinari paused and leaned over towards the Watch Commander. "Oh, you'll probably receive a delivery sometime in the next two days, Vimes, just get rid of it. Or you can keep it if you like; your wife may enjoy it," he said quietly, and then he leaned back into his chair. "The current consensus seems to be in favour of your little prank not being amusing, gentlemen. So why exactly did you decide to engage in such reckless behaviour?"
"Oh, well, um…we were supposed to be using the omniscope to catalogue star positions and stuff for Ponder—Mr Stibbons, our Faculty Head—he's been mad for that stuff ever since that business with the Kite, and we got a little bored," said Drongo. "So for a laugh, we had HEX focus the omniscope on some people in the city to see what they were doing; Captain Carrot and his girlfriend what's-her-face and then Commander Vimes here--"
"Commander Snuggles," murmured Skazz. Vimes froze.
"—with his wife and finally you, my lord. We saw that barbarian hero come in here and all what happened with that and we thought wouldn't it be funny if you actually started to act like a tyrant would according to that quiz…" Drongo's voice trailed off under the weight of Lord Vetinari's stare.
"I thought it would be something like that." Lord Vetinari held out a hand and Drumknott gave him a book. "Well, if you wanted a tyrant, gentlemen, why didn't you say so? Ah yes, 'How to Spot a Tyrant'. Let's see; question one; do you own a cat?"
Drumknott reached into a small box behind the desk and pulled out a tiny ginger kitten. "Happy birthday, sir."
Vetinari smiled. "Thank you, Drumknott."
"She's called Whiskers, sir," said Drumknott. He gave the kitten a pat on the hand and smiled at her. "Because you've got the cutest little whiskers, haven't you, haven't you?" The kitten started purring.
"Of course, now question two; do you have a beard? I think the answer to that is obviously yes," Vetinari ticked the page. "Question three; do you ever imprison people for no reason? I think Mrs Woodridge would certainly agree that's true. Question four; we can leave that one until later, I think. Question five--"
"Sorry, my lord," interrupted Drongo. "But what are you doing?"
"I would've thought that was obvious, Mr Turnipseed," said Vetinari. "You obviously based the idea for your little 'prank' on the questions in this quiz so I'm using it as the inspiration on how best to respond. And first I'm merely seeing which questions you haven't provided an answer to yet."
"Oh, because question four is about sentencing people to death, isn't it? So why are you going to leave that one until--" He stopped as he caught sight of Vetinari's expression. "—oh crap."
"Indeed. Question five; Have you ever tied a virgin to a large rock for sacrifice to a god, demon or monster of your choice?" read out Vetinari. He looked up at the two students speculatively and made another small note in the book. "That can also be left until later. Question six; has one of your employees ever tried to overthrow you? Ah yes, Lupine Wonse," Vetinari turned to Vimes. "Do you remember Mr Wonse, Vimes?"
"What happened to him, Vimes?"
"He's dead, sir."
Vetinari smiled. "Yes, he is, isn't he; died right over…there, if I recall correctly." Drongo's face paled as he watched Vetinari's finger point about five feet from where he was standing. "Or rather, about fifty feet below that spot."
"That's right, sir."
Vetinari stared intently at Drongo for slightly longer than normal before looking back down at the book. "Question seven; do you dress only in black or black and red robes?" He looked down at his clothing. "Yes. Question eight; have you ever locked someone up for saying your robes look like a dress? Plus two points if it actually is a dress. Well, I haven't imprisoned anyone for it, but I was just about to declare war on another country for such a transgression." He grimaced slightly. "Plus there is the rather frilly pink taffeta creation I found hanging in my wardrobe this morning. Thank goodness I was able to resist your repeated attempts to get me to wear it."
"Thank the gods," murmured Vimes.
Vetinari ignored him. "Question nine; Do you ever refer to your employees as henchmen? Even if only in private? I think the new name-plate on Drumknott's desk proclaiming him to be the Arch-Lieutenant of the Filing Cabinet will cover that…" He made another tick in the book. "Question ten; Do you have a secret hide-out? The 'Municipal Fortress of Doom'—" Vetinari said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "—covers that, and question eleven too. Question twelve; have you ever seduced a member of the opposite sex for power or influence?" He smiled. "Possibly…"
Vimes turned slowly towards him, a shocked expression on his face. "Who?"
"A gentleman never tells, Vimes. Question thirteen; poetry, yes—oh, that reminds me. Drumknott?"
"Go and tear out the back page of your diary and destroy it, will you?"
Drumknott frowned. "Why?"
The Patrician's face coloured slightly. "Thanks to the two pranksters here I wrote a rather…obscene poem about you in there. Mostly concerning your…er…."
"My what?" Drumknott asked, confused. Suddenly his eyes opened wide. "Oh, my…yes, definitely, sir. I'll burn it straight after this meeting. The diary, I mean, not my…y'know."
"Good," Vetinari sighed with relief.
Vimes leant over to Drumknott with a grin. "I'll give you fifty dollars if you'll send the diary to de Worde."
Drongo let out a nervous chuckle. "Ha...um, my lord, I think you've forgotten one thing though."
Vetinari raised an eyebrow. "Really? And what would that be?"
"Well, we're wizards; you don't have the authority to punish us," said Drongo. "Unseen University has always been independent from Ankh-Morpork in that way, so only the Archchancellor can discipline us."
"Ah, yes," said Vetinari. "Commander Vimes, what did Archchancellor Ridcully say when you asked him about that?"
"Ridcully said--" Vimes pulled out his notebook and flipped to the appropriate page. "—'They made Vetinari do what? Well, bugger that, I'm not getting involved; tell him he can do whatever he wants to the little bastards, they deserve it'."
Vetinari smiled. "You see, gentlemen?"
Drongo looked down at the floor. "…oh…"
Vetinari picked up the book. "Now let me see; question fourteen…"
"It could be worse."
There was no reply apart from a stony glare from Skazz.
"You're going to have to talk to me sometime, y'know."
The glare intensified.
"So what did you think about number twenty-six? I didn't think Vetinari would be into that, did you?"
"I mean, you could tell Vimes was surprised, and the secretary too. Vetinari must be pretty good at keeping it a secret. But let's face it, you'd want to--"
"Are you ever going to shut up?" asked Skazz through gritted teeth.
"I'm just trying to make conversation; we've been hanging up here in the scorpion pit for three hours now and I'm bored," said Drongo. "Anyway this is all your fault."
Skazz looked at him in disbelief. "How? All of this was your idea!"
"Yeah, but you let me do it."
"You are such a moron."
"Exactly. That's why you're supposed to stop me before I do something like that."
Skazz sighed again. "So how long do you think Vetinari is going to keep us in here?" He grimaced slightly. "All these mime corpses are giving me the creeps."
"You will be here until I decide otherwise, gentlemen."
Skazz and Drongo looked down, or rather from their perspective, up at Lord Vetinari who had entered the pit through a side door.
He smiled. "Comfortable?"
"Good." Vetinari looked at the solitary scorpion scuttling around the floor of the pit. "Drumknott?"
"What happened to all the scorpions?"
"They all died of old age, sir. There's only Sidney left now."
Vetinari raised an eyebrow. "Sidney?"
Drumknott smiled. "Yes sir. Sidney the Scorpion."
Drumknott held up a shoebox. "If I may, sir?"
Vetinari and the students watched as Drumknott carefully scooped up the scorpion with the shoebox lid and lovingly deposited it onto a bed of torn-up paper. He placed the lid back onto the box with a smile. "There you go, Sidney," he murmured. "You be a brave boy for your Uncle Rufus and you'll be back in your pit before you know it." He turned to the Patrician. "All set, sir."
"Capital." Vetinari smiled up at the students. "Now gentlemen; it's time for your punishment." He paused. "Well, the first part of it anyway."
Drongo gave him a surprised look. "But I thought this was our punishment."
Vetinari chuckled. "Oh no, Mr Turnipseed, this is merely your detainment. You didn't honestly think that I would punish you with the same methods I use for rogue mimes, did you? No, what you did was far worse then simple mimicry."
"It wasn't that bad--"
"I can assure you it was, Mr Turnipseed. I'm experiencing quite a bit of difficulty convincing Mr Woodridge that I'm no longer interested in him and just because I was…" Vetinari grimaced. "…doesn't mean that it will happen again, no matter how many times he takes his clothes off."
"However, his continued infatuation with me has provided me with an idea for your second punishment; I've managed to convince him that the way to gain my affections is to prove the strength of his--" he smiled. "—with the two of you."
Skazz retched as Drongo looked at Vetinari in shock.
"And once Mr Woodridge has finished with the two of you," continued Vetinari. "Commander Vimes will provide you both with some of the new Watch uniforms and you will be escorted around the city wearing them by--who was it again, Drumknott?"
"Sergeant von Uberwald and Lance-Constable von Humpeding, sir."
Drongo frowned. "Who?"
"Captain Carrot's girlfriend and her vampire friend," explained Drumknott.
Drongo grinned as he pictured the two women in his mind. Then he remembered what he'd be wearing. "Oh."
"Apparently the Lance-Constable is very excited about the opportunity," said Vetinari with a smile. "She's asked her friend Mr Chriek to accompany you all so he can take some pictures for the Times."
Drongo sighed. "…oh."
"But before that you have to suffer your first punishment. I have to admit I was rather at a loss with this one, but thankfully Drumknott had a rather remarkable idea."
The secretary grinned evilly.
"He thought that as you had so much fun watching him perform his little routine in his new uniform that you should have the opportunity to see it in the flesh, as it were," said Vetinari.
"Oh, I won't be doing it," said Drumknott, whose smile had gotten even more evil, if that were possible. "We found somebody—somebodys—more appropriate." He opened the door to the pit and Mr and Mrs Woodridge shuffled in.
Drongo and Skazz stared at them both in horror; all the elderly couple were wearing was a golden bikini, a pair of shoes and a pair of socks apiece. Mr Woodridge leered at Vetinari, who shifted uncomfortably at the unwanted attention while Mrs Woodridge gave everyone a dazed smile.
"Before we leave you to enjoy the performance there was something I was supposed to do; now what was it?" said Vetinari. He smiled. "Ah, yes, the evil laugh--" The smile turned into a grin. "--Ha. Ha. Ha."