I don't own these characters or profit from them.
By, Clayton Overstreet
"I just want to make a simple movie without a lot of special effects." S. Spielberg
I looked up as an imp entered the room. I was more surprised by who the imp was than anything else. "Brockhurst?" In the corner my pet dragon looked up happily and the imp scratched his head, ignoring the slimy tongue as Gleep licked him.
"Skeeve!" He said happily. "I'd heard you were back in the bazaar. Long time no see pal." I immediately went on high alert. Nobody I know calls me pal unless they want something. Sometimes I think that says something about my life. Then again most of my friends are bill collectors, assassins, con artists, and wizards and most of them started out wanting to kill me. Brockhurst for example had been part of a trio of assassins hired by a madman to kill my old teacher… and most likely me. "So, back in charge of M.Y.T.H. Inc.?"
"No, Bunny runs things now. I don't think you met her…"
"Actually I know all about her," Brockhurst said. "That's part of what I want to talk to you about."
I decided to put that off for a moment. "Brockhurst, I can't help noticing the change of clothes." Unlike before he wasn't wearing his assassin's outfit. Instead he wore a beret, tan button up shirt, and black pants. Hanging from his waist was a large funnel shaped thing.
"Yeah," he said blushing a lighter pink. "I couldn't pay my dues and got kicked out of the guild. But lately I've been working in moving pictures."
I frowned, trying to think. "Is that anything like the Crystal Ball Network?"
He smiled broadly. "I knew you'd understand Skeeve. Yeah, it's like that, but more in the line of prerecorded stuff. Like a play only different."
"You'd want to ask Bunny about that. I've had hardly anything to do with that sort of thing."
"Really? Weren't you in that show from Perv?"
I frowned. "No, that wasn't me. It couldn't have been me. Those were look-a-likes for the show. It couldn't have been me because I am actually banned from Perv and would never set foot there in clear violation of their laws. In fact that's why I'm not with them right now, because they were hired for a job on Perv."
"Ah, got you," he said. Tactfully he changed the topic. "Well anyway I'm currently working on starting a new project and I needed to talk to you. And not just you, most of your team too… uh, Aahz is still with you guys?"
"Did somebody call my name?" We both turned and saw the rest of the main team come in. Aahz, Chumley, Tananda, Bunny, Pookie and her partner Spider, Gus, Massha, Nunzio, and Guido. Tanda and Gus immediately said, "Brockhurst!" and came forward to give him a hug and a pat on the back. Aahz nodded to him from where he stood. The others looked around curiously.
"Guys, this is an old friend of ours from when we went to war with Big Julie," I said.
Chumley stepped forward and said, "Ah, I believe little sister told us that you were quite useful to then in that endeavor."
Brockhurst had just gotten his breath back, but as Chumley approached he stared in shock. Either from the troll's size of his excellent grammar. Finally he settled on, "You… you're Tanda's brother?"
"Can't you see the resemblance?" He asked innocently.
Brockhurst stammered for a moment before I stepped in to save him. Imps weren't known for being bright. "Brockhurst was just telling me about his new career in moving pictures."
Taking my lead he said, "Right. I got out of the assassin thing for something slightly more dangerous. Now I'm a director."
"Really?" Tanda and Bunny said their eyes shining. I remembered how most of my female friends had reacted to being on the Crystal Network and inwardly groaned.
"Yes. You see I've been working on this for a few years now. I did a few small shows for some festivals, but now I'm ready to break into the big time and I needed a good idea." He smiled at everyone a little nervously. "So I thought… why not make a movie about the most exciting guy I know? The Great Skeeve!"
"What?" I asked. But it occurred to me that I was alone there. Everyone else was nodding like it made perfect sense.
"Bloody good idea," Chumley said.
"Can we be in it?" Bunny asked.
Guido said, "If you need teamsters…"
"Hold it." I said. They all ignored me.
"Well if you know a guy," Brockhurst was saying.
"Wait a minute," I pressed.
"I could help with costumes!" Massha said.
Suddenly a loud voice cut through the noise. Aahz said. "Forget it!"
"Why?" Everyone but me asked.
Aahz sighed. "Brockhurst, you and I never got along to well, but I respect you. You're a good person and you fought along side us. Most importantly you fought alongside Skeeve."
"Well Aahz I'm touched…" He began.
"Wait!" Aahz said quickly. "Brockhurst, like I said you fought alongside Skeeve. You've also heard his reputation. Do you know what would happen to his rep if the actual details of half of the things he's done gets out?"
But instead of simply protesting, Brockhurst smiled wider. "I just knew you'd say that."
"Yep. Which is why I've already arranged for you to have full script approval."
"Script approval?" Aahz asked.
Brockhurst nodded happily. "Right. You get to decide what stays, what goes, and everything else. This is a movie. It has to be exciting and make everybody involved look good. It's only got to be based on a true story. The actual story can be whatever you want."
But…" Aahz said.
"On top of that we'll pay you," He said. I sighed. Everyone knew the way to a Pervect's heart was through his bank account. Rumor had it some of them kept them in their actual safe deposit boxes. "We've already got backing from major sponsors including the Pervect Ten and Brandex! We'll make the movie for ten million and if it makes a splash at the box office we could make three or four times that much back!"
I spoke up quickly before my partner could answer, "So, what do you want with us?" I could see there was no use talking my friends out of this. Their eyes were gleaming.
"Well," Brockhurst said. "I do need your permission to use the stories. I didn't want to go up against you guys if you didn't approve. Plus I'd like as many of you as possible to consider being in the movie."
"You want us to star in it?" Bunny asked excitedly.
"Uh…" Brockhurst suddenly looked nervous again. "Actually no."
"Why not?" Chumley asked. "Don't we have star quality?"
"Obviously, but we've already got some people for the parts. Leonard Di Cappuccino will play Skeeve…"
"I've seen some of his movies!" Tanda said. "He made a big name for himself on Caf. Didn't he make the one about the giant iced mocha latte that got hit by a ship?"
"He's a cafiend?" I asked.
"No, like most good actors, he's an elf."
I thought about what I knew about elves. They were reported on many worlds, but nobody knew where exactly they lived. Like certain kinds of birds their parents usually swapped them out for the children in other dimensions. Then when they reached a certain age they showed up, revealed the switch, and gave the original kid back. Apparently elves were huge troublemakers. My friends Markie had taken lessons from them. But once they were grown up they were considered to be amazingly charming and were perceived by every species as an incredibly good-looking member of their own kind. Only with pointed ears and cat-like eyes.
"But," Brockhurst said quickly. "I'd like all of you to help out in other ways. Extras, staff, producers, special effects, and stunt work. In fact we'd like every member of M.Y.T.H. Inc."
Gus said, "Sounds like you've covered all the bases."
"All you have to do now is settle on a price," Aahz said. The rest of us stepped back as he put his arm over Brockhurst's shoulder. "Let's talk."
"The camera adds ten pounds." J. Candy
It turned out that, considering how much we were getting paid there wasn't much work to do on the movie set. Not for me anyway. I mostly sat in a chair next to Brockhurst while he shouted orders. Considering how willing he had been to let me lead the campaign against Big Julie it was amazing how in control the imp was.
It turned out that Brockhurst had arranged a "three picture deal". Each one would be about three hours long when they were done and took place during some of the big events in my life. The first was based on my being hired for the Possiltum army. Queen Hemlock had actually agreed to lend out the old battlefield, known at the Holly Woods for the bushes growing all over, and a lot of the soldiers had been hired as extras with Big Julie choreographing their movements. People were always moving everywhere and they'd had to bring in some of the Deveel's interdimensional tents to house them all.
Ajax was there too. It had been a long time since we'd seen him or the gremlin that followed him around. We'd had a happy reunion and I'd been told he had been hired as a sharpshooter. Basically the young elf playing him would take a stance with the bow and arrow and then Ajax took his place and did the actual shooting. Pookie and Spider had done some similar work as stuntwomen.
I was actually doing a lot of illusions and special effects, once again transforming the army into imps or pervects. Despite Aahz's constant and above all loud arguments with the writers the story in the movie got pretty close to the truth. Though I didn't remember us looking quite so brave in the face of Big Julie's dragon or making so many witty remarks.
Off in one corner I saw Bunny talking to Leonard. Whatever he really looked like, to me he appeared six feet tall with curly blond hair, and a lot of muscles without looking bulky. Bunny had blushed every time he talked to her. I tried to pretend I wasn't watching them, but it wasn't easy. I had really liked Leonard right up until Bunny had started talking to him. It didn't bother me when the others talked to the actors. In fact Gus was talking to the gargoyle actor Carey Granite about how to deal with salamanders. Apparently the reason Berfert was constantly crawling over Gus was that even Gargoyle's felt the burn if a salamander sat in one place too long. I remembered during Sink-or-Swim how one had started to melt during the hot potato contest. Oddly as Bunny laughed at another one of Leonard's jokes, I could relate.
Suddenly there was a camera in my face. "Hey! What's this?"
"It's for the Demonic Video Display," Brockhurst said next to me. "They always put in special features you can't get in theaters and a big one is a documentary on the people involved in making the film. They get shots of all the major players."
"Really?" I said. Glancing nervously at the camera I tried to pull back a bit. The only time I had appeared on anything like this was during Sink-or-Swim Perv and at the time I hadn't had much to do with being on screen. At least not with my own face. I'd been using Aahz's face because I was banned from the dimension, but some of my students had been in trouble thanks to the games being rigged. "So… what do I do?"
"Look at the camera." He said. "Now, I'll just ask you some questions and you answer."
"Um… okay," I said.
"So Skeeve, what do you think of the movie so far?"
"I don't know really. I've never really been into entertainment. My friends and I usually solve major problems. But it seems to be going pretty well." That wasn't so hard. It was easy to forget millions of people might be watching this at some point. As it was I was just sitting next to my friend.
"Is it strange seeing your life get relived like this?"
"A little. I mean, at the time I was mostly just working hard on keeping everyone alive. It's strange seeing all this action and then having everyone freeze when you yell cut. If I could do that in real life it would make things a lot easier."
"So what do you think about the movie business?"
"I never really have. Usually I try to focus on work or doing things with my friends. But everyone else seemed pretty interested in this so I went along with it." I smiled a bit. "I'm just glad we only have to do this once."
"Well that should be enough," Brockhurst said and the camera moved away. He patted me on the shoulder. "It's good to see you aren't getting a swelled head. A lot of guys find out that they're going to be in a movie and they think they're king of the world."
"I've been king," I said. "And personally I think actors have more fun." The truth was that I understood what he was talking about. The actress playing Tanda, Tila Trollop, refused to even come out of her dressing room unless she had a specific kind of coffee. And when she did come out, as soon as Brockhurst called a cut she complained about everything from the clothes she wore to the other actors not doing things right. She got away with it because when the cameras were recording she was actually pretty amazing.
Still, she was nice to me, though I think it was because I was sitting in a chair marked "Producer". She was equally nice to everyone else in our group.
"So Skeeve, how do you think I'm doing as an actor?" She said, walking up to me.
I smiled at her and said, "Not bad at all. You and Tanda could almost be sisters when you're acting." When she wasn't I'd seen her actually throw coffee at people.
"Maybe after the movie finishes up you and I could go out to dinner or something," She said. "Maybe you could even accompany to the premier."
Before I could respond Bunny materialized next to me. "Sorry, but Skeeve is very busy."
"And you have to go with Leonard," Brockhurst said. "You know the big stars have to be seen together at the premier."
"Well, if I have to…" She smiled at me once, gave me a wink, and then walked off.
"What was that about?" Bunny asked.
I shrugged. "Nothing. She just asked if I wanted to go get something to eat." I don't know why, but I asked, "So how if Leonard doing?"
"Fine," Bunny said blushing suddenly. "He's done a lot of acting so he's used to all of this."
"That's good." I didn't know what else to say.
Neither did she apparently because after a moment Bunny just squeezed my shoulder and started to move away. But then Tanda showed up. "Hey guys, the rest of the gang has been talking and we were all going to go do lunch. Grimble suggested a great place in town."
"Are you sure?" I asked. "The last time I went out in Possiltum I got in a little trouble."
"We know, but that was a while ago," Tanda said. "And this is a real restaurant."
I said, "Sure!" I smiled at Bunny. "You know we haven't had any real Klah food since we went back to the bazaar."
"You're right," she said. "Most Klahds can't even get to the bazaar and the few that do are wizards who aren't interested in cooking. What time?"
"We can call it a day in about two hours," Brockhurst said. "Tomorrow we start shooting the finale where you make your deal with Big Julie."
"Sounds good," Tanda said.
"Next week we start shooting the Big Game on Jahk," Brockhurst said. "Then we'll shoot that treasure hunt Tanda told us about where you fought the vampire cows." He looked at me. "Aahz said it was okay to say you won that treasure map from the Kid in your big Dragon Poker game."
"But that didn't happen until later," I said.
"But you did beat him so it's true enough for movies," Brockhurst said dismissively. "It'll be great! First a big war movie, then a sports flick, and finally a cowboy/treasure hunt!"
"Well if Aahz thinks it is a good idea…" I said.
"And Bunny gets a bit part," he said turning to her. "You can walk in on Leonard's arm and do the candy look and then we'll have you negotiate Skeeve's winnings just like you did in real life. It'll make a great surprise. And then!" He was really excited, seeing things pass behind his eyes. I found myself listening intently. "We'll have her beg Skeeve not to leave to look for treasure and stay with her. Make it very romantic and heartwarming, especially when he comes back. He'll show up and she comes running into his arms! Every movie needs a romantic ending."
"But Bunny and I aren't… I mean…"
"I think it sounds great," Tanda said. "Well I have to get ready for dinner."
"Me too," Bunny said. They walked away together.
I had the feeling I was missing something, but before I could say anything I was interrupted. Guido and Nunzio came forward with Don Bruce. He had been around the set every couple of days seeing if there was anything they needed and making sure the teamsters he had sent them weren't slacking off.
"Hello Don Bruce," I said standing up. Brockhurst did likewise and we both shook his hands.
"Hey boys, how is everything?"
"Fantastic," Brockhurst said. "Thanks again for all of your help."
"No problem," he said. "Anything for Skeeve. Of course you sweetened the deal yourself."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
Brockhurst smiled. "Well if this movie goes well I will be doing another three movies about Don Bruce."
"Ahem," Guido said.
"I mean… we'll be doing a fictional movie about a high ranking but completely fictional character who works in the world of organized crime and has nothing at all to do with anybody we might know in real life, particularly a well respected business man like Don Bruce."
"Right," Guido said. He winked at me, "And guess what boss? We get to be in the movie."
"It's going to be called 'The Fairy Godfather'." Nunzio said.
"They made me an offer I couldn't refuse." Don Bruce smiled. "Should be fun, eh boys?"
"Better you than me," Skeeve said.
"Something wrong Skeeve?" Don Bruce asked.
I shook my head. "Nothing really. I just never thought of myself as important enough to get this kind of attention. MYTH Inc is just a business and most of our adventures… well let's just say they look a lot more impressive when Leonard does them."
Don Bruce patted me on the shoulder. "That's life for you. Don't you worry Skeeve. Leonard there, he's just an actor. You really did all of these things. That's way more impressive."
"I guess," I said. "Hey, I've got to meet the others for dinner in a while. It was good to see you Don Bruce."
"You too Skeeve." As I walked away I noticed him nudge Guido and whisper something to him, but I was never the type to butt in on other people's conversation.
"I've always loved talking with friends over dinner." G. Rasputin
I was in one of my best suits and examining myself in the mirror. We had temporarily closed down MYTH Inc while we worked on the movies so we had our own tents on the set. It was weird seeing myself like this in Possiltum. I couldn't help remembering how I'd dressed when I started working for the kingdom. Of course that was before Don Bruce had sent his niece to me as a moll and Bunny had taught me how to dress.
Stepping out I found Bunny waiting for me. She was wearing a clingy white dress with no shoulder straps and a white furred cloak over her shoulders "How do I look?"
"Fantastic!" I said immediately.
She smiled at me. "You're not so bad yourself."
"Where's everybody else?" I asked.
She held up a roll of parchment. "They left a note that they want to meet at the restaurant. My uncle is joining us and left us a carriage." She led the way and they met up at a carriage drawn by two large birds. A teamster was driving and nodded to them as they got inside. Once the door was closed the carriage took off.
"I can't believe how used to teleporting I am," I said. "At the bazaar it's just easier to just appear where you want."
"Me too," Bunny said. She looked out the window. "We both grew up here, but…" She shrugged. "I don't know. It's just so different. I remember when I was younger and I thought living in a castle was the best thing ever. Then you brought us all to Deva where they had plumbing, air conditioning, and magic to do just about anything else. Even at the inn…" She shook her head.
"It's definitely a few steps up from when I was living with Garkin," I said.
"Living alone in the woods with an old man to Deva with us," Bunny said. "Do you ever wish you could go back?"
"Not in the least," I said. "Sometimes I wish my life was less complicated, but then I never would have met you or any of our friends."
"I know sometimes you end up in a lot of tough predicaments Skeeve. And that I… that we can make you happy means a lot to all of us." She stopped talking and the two of us looked at each other's eyes.
Sometimes I forget how beautiful Bunny is, especially when she dresses up. Her red hair and pink lips definitely contrasted against the white of her outfit.
"Oh, sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to stare."
"No, I was saying we're here," Bunny said. I realized that the coach had stopped. I opened the door and stepped out, holding it open until she followed. Glancing up at the driver I reached into my pocket and tossed him a gold coin. "Thanks for the lift. Now that I know where we are I can get us back to the set. You can do anything you want for the rest of the night."
"Thanks Mister Skeeve," he said respectfully as he pocketed the money. With a flick of the reins the birds started running again.
I turned to look at what appeared to be a very stylish restaurant. At least by Klah's standards. We went inside and were greeted by a waiter. "Do you have a reservation?"
"The MYTH Inc Party," Bunny said.
"Ah, right this way ma'am," he said. We were led inside to a table for two. I looked around but while there were other patrons none of them looked remotely like our friends.
"This can't be right. We were supposed to meet a lot of our friends here," I said.
He said, "I was told to expect a young man with blond hair and a beautiful woman with red. Then to tell them…" He paused, remembering. "That the others had been called away on something important, but that you shouldn't worry."
"Really?" I said. "Maybe we should…"
"Your meal is prepared and will be out shortly," he said pulling out our chairs for us. Then he walked off back to the kitchen.
Bunny sat down and I followed her example. "I wonder what's wrong. And why the others didn't tell us about it."
"Nothing is wrong Skeeve," Bunny said.
"What do you mean?"
She smiled. "We've been set up." Immediately I was on edge and looking around the room. I don't like it, but I had more than a few enemies. For the last year I'd been operating without bodyguards and suddenly I had the feeling I was getting too complacent. Bunny realized what was going on and said, "Not that kind of set up."
Relaxing I said, "Really? Then what do you mean?"
She rolled her eyes. "Skeeve, they set us up on a date."
The waiter arrived them, depositing some plates and silverware on the table. The plates had pieces of roasted lizard-bird and some vegetables on them. He bowed to us and then left quickly.
"I am so sorry about this Bunny," I said.
She frowned. "Why? You don't want to have a meal with me?"
"It's not that. It's the date thing."
"So you wouldn't date me?" She sounded upset.
"Bunny, it's not that. I just… I know how you feel when you're treated nice just because you're good looking."
Her jaw dropped. "Wait… you're still on that?"
"Well yeah. I remember how hard it was for you to be taken seriously when you started out and how you tried to play up to it. I never wanted you to think that was the only reason I wanted you around." I frowned. "Especially since we started with MYTH Inc. Everyone who ever came in to the office always automatically assumed you were my secretary because you looked good."
Bunny smiled now. "And it was always so much fun putting them in their place afterwards."
"True," I admitted. "And now you're president of the company. I don't want people thinking you got there just by looking good."
Bunny started laughing. I enjoyed the sound. Finally she said, "Skeeve, nobody who knows us would think like that."
"I know, but still…" I shrugged. "On top of that, I didn't want to give your uncle the wrong idea, even if it was just by rumor."
She reached across the table and took my hand. "Is that why you never asked me out?"
I looked down at her hand and swallowed loudly. "Well… yeah. Plus you know, when we met I gave you that whole speech about how we should just be friends. After that I wouldn't' have felt right changing my mind just because you're the most beautiful woman I've ever met. It seems kind of shallow."
"Skeeve, shallow is okay sometimes."
"Besides," I added. "It's not like you'd be interested in me in the first place. You could date just about anybody. I think Leonard likes you."
"Skeeve," she said. "Let me explain this to you simply and directly." She stood up, moved around the table, and grabbed my face in both hands. Before I knew what was happening she kissed me.
Now don't get me wrong. I've kissed girls before. Anybody who Tanda likes meeting usually has. And no she's not the only one. I'd even kissed Bunny. But something about this kiss was totally different. Aside from her hands on my cheek, which felt incredibly hot, there was just something about the contact that made my chest simultaneously hurt and feel good. Like there was a hole in it I'd never noticed before that was rapidly filling up.
After a moment I kissed her back. Reaching up and touched her face with one of my hands too. I couldn't see much except her face. Neither of us had closed out eyes. Still I lightly traced over her ear and brushed my finger through her hair. This was something I'd been thinking about for a long time, even if I had refused to act on it. Now that it was happening it felt like a dream and I could hardly believe she was real.
When she finally pulled back she asked, "Get it now?"
"Um… no?" I said hopefully. Mostly I also hoped I wasn't smiling too wide. "Could you explain it again?"
Bunny snorted cutely and slapped my thigh. It really hurt, because over the last year Bunny had gotten into serious weight training. Still even as I rubbed the new bruise I was going to have I couldn't stop smiling. "Skeeve, promise me something."
"What?" I asked.
"Next time you think I'll react badly to something, try asking me."
Around us the other patrons at the restaurant began applauding. Bunny and I both realized we were being stared at and blushed furiously. We tried apologizing when the people suddenly rippled and one by one changed shape. It only took us a moment to recognize our friends. Queen Hemlock shared a table with Chumley, Guido with Pookie, Nunzio with Spider, and Tanda with Aahz. The waiter turned out to be Gus. Don Bruce was sitting alone at the table next to us, casually toasting Bunny and me with a wine glass.
"Uncle Bruce," Bunny said staring at him. "What happened to your strict policy of not interfering with me and Skeeve."
"I got impatient," he said. "And you know how fairy godparents are with relationships."
I jumped as a scaly hand touched mine and Aahz patted me on the back. I looked at him and he smiled. Quite possibly I was the only person in all the dimensions to ever be comforted by the sight of a smiling Pervect. "Do we even need to say how much we're all behind you on this kid?"
"Most beautiful girl you ever met?" Tanda asked. Chumley kicked her. "Ow! Okay! Okay! I get the point." She smiled at us and nodded her head. "What Aahz said."
Aahz moved his hand away and I realized there was something cold and hard there. I raised it up to look at it in the light and Bunny gasped. It was a diamond ring.
A lot of memories rose up in my mind. First that in a lot of dimensions rings were used for engagements and marriages. Second that I'd only really ever been to two weddings. Massha's, where we were almost killed by a bomb, and Queen Hemlock's where I was almost put to death. Her husband's ring had gotten me into another war and Hemlock still had on the ring I'd given her on that day.
Guido nudged me in the back and leaned in to my ear. "Boss, I realize you ain't exactly smooth with the ladies and all. So my advice type suggestion would be to give Bunny the rock before you try to say anything."
"Uh right…" I said. Bunny had clearly heard the entire thing and was smiling. She lifted her hand up and I slipped the ring onto her finger. "Uh, if you don't mind." Bunny threw herself at me and kissed me again.
Over her shoulder I saw Brockhurst and a camera recording the whole thing. Smiling broadly the imp said. "Now there's a romantic ending!"
"Bro, I just want to use your idea for a bit." M. Bolton
Originally I submitted this idea to Robert Asprin and Jody Nye to use in a book. Never got a response on it. The original idea involved this being a whole book. However, since I'm writing MY OWN books I shortened it a bit. Took out the scenes where Skeeve would have gotten jealous and maybe something like a phantom working the set to ruin the movie. Also Ticks from the dimension of Fana who attach themselves to famous people and adore them. A lot of intrigue where the other guys kept putting Skeeve and Bunny together in situations and where both of them kept getting jealous because the actors playing them kept hitting on them. At least in my head. Garkin's ghost coming back… Aahz getting his powers returned. Special effects. Etc.
But I'm mostly writing this to get the ideas out of my head so I can focus on my own stuff. Stuff I can get paid for. Plus I like fan mail.
The following stories are the same. Shortened versions of MYTH books I'd hoped to write if ever given permission. I hope you enjoy them.
A MYTH Inc Groom
By, Clayton Overstreet
"It's just one night out. What could happen?" R.V. Winkle
Luanna lay curled up inside the cake and listened to the sounds of the party around me. It was another bachelor party. She'd made a lot of money off of those. Few women who look as good as she did are willing to spend hours waiting inside a cake waiting to pop out and dance for a bunch of boozed up overgrown frat boys. And a lot of the other girls ended up getting plastered.
As a vampire she enjoy tight dark places. She didn't need to breathe so cigar smoke is not a problem and she didn't drink… wine. Plus they're usually happy to get hickeys from the stripper and expect to wake up the next day not remembering anything. So for her it was a win-win.
This time was different though. Matt, her partner, and she had been strapped for cash lately. Their last plan to get right hadn't worked out quite like they'd hoped and they had run through the money an old associate had given them. Then this troll had come into their offices, plopped down a bag of gold, and asked for "the works". Matt and Luanna immediately realized that this was a big deal. The bag contained more money than they'd seen in one place in years.
"Luanne sweetie!" He said and gave her a playful slap on the rump. "This is big! If they're throwing around this kind of scratch for a party, think how rich they have to be."
She smiled and nodded. "No kidding. So what do we do? The bit where I get him drunk, take a few pictures, and threaten to send them to his wife-to-be if he doesn't pay up?"
"No way baby," he said. "None of that small time blackmail stuff for us this time. That never works out in the long run anyway." We both frowned and rubbed their necks, remembering the last time they worked that scam. It had been their third time actually being hung. They were just lucky that most people didn't recognize them as vampires. "I say we go for a big score. Grab the groom and ransom him back."
"I don't know Matt. That's a little hard core."
"Don't worry. We'll tell them that if they go to the authorities we'll kill him. Then we ask for… let's say a million in gold. No need to go too big."
"Yeah, but we aren't going to really kill…"
"Of course not. We don't need that kind of trouble. If they don't pay we'll just hypnotize the guy so he doesn't remember us and drop him off somewhere."
So that was the plan. Luanna sat naked and waited patiently in the cake until she felt it move again. Outside a loud voice said, "And what stag party would be complete without the cake!"
"What stags? I didn't see any deer…" A clueless, yet somehow familiar, voice said. People groaned and there was a loud thump on the side of the cake. The same voice said, "Hey, that isn't Pervish cooking, is it?"
Before he could say anything else Luanna pulled the pin on the sleeping gas bomb and dropped it to the bottom of the cake. Pushing on the top she began working my way out. There were various hoots and hollers as my pink painted nails came out of the cake followed by my arms. I turned so my back was to the crowd. As the gas rose out with me it gave a nice mist effect.
"I say, that is a good cake," another voice said. Luanna recognized the troll that had hired her.
"Aahz, what is going on?" The dumb guy asked.
"Relax kid, it's just part of the show."
"I don't think Bunny would like this…"
The troll said, "Little sister is in charge of Bunny's party."
"Trust us boss," another man said. "Compared to the party-type entertainment Bunny is having this is nothin'."
A high squeaky voice said, "Yeah boss. Just enjoy it. After all, it's your last night as a free man."
"You don't think Don Bruce will mind?"
"Nah." Everyone said at once. Luanna could feeling them watching her as she shook herself and slid all the way out of the cake.
"Well…" Suddenly there was a yawn.
"Skeeve," a gravely voice said. Luanna guessed he was a gargoyle. Good thing they'd chosen a magic sleeping gas that worked on everyone. "It's rude to…" There was another yawn.
"I'm feeling a might drowsy myself chaps," the troll said.
"What's in this wine?" Another voice said. Luanna turned and stared. "A Pervect?"
She turned and saw a familiar form squeezed between two large Klahds, a troll, the Pervect, and the gargoyle. "Skeeve?" And then everyone around her collapsed to the floor.
"My wife is very understanding." J. W. Bobbit
I stood in my wedding dress in front of my friends and family while Guido whispered in my ear. I kept smiling and said, "I'm sorry Guido, but maybe I'm still a little hung over from Tanda's party. Would you repeat that?" He did. I felt I reacted with the proper decorum for a lady.
Shortly afterwards Nunzio, Pookie, Gus, Aahz, and General Bad Axe managed to pry my fingers from around Guido's throat and he lay coughing and purple faced on the floor. "YOU LET A STRIPPER KIDNAP SKEEVE?"
Aahz said, "Bunny, it's not like that. We didn't know she was going to kidnap him and before we knew there was anything wrong she'd gassed us."
"Right," Guido rasped from the floor.
"Why was a stripper…" Tanda shot me a look and I let that one go. After a few bottles of wine the night before we'd all been stuffing coins into the thong of a guy who had come in dressed as policeman. I took a deep breath. "Fine, we won't get into that. I know the stripper wasn't Skeeve's idea and I trust him not to do anything with a woman like that."
"Yeah," Nunzio said. "And it's not like we knew she was that girl vampire Skeeve used to have a crush on."
He flinched back when I turned to look at him. "What was that?"
Aahz said, "A few years ago when we just moved to the bazaar a trio of vampire con artists used out back door to Limbo as a way to escape the bazaar. You know Vic?" I nodded. "Well he'd been suckered in with them too."
"I've heard the story," I growled. "Up until now nobody mentioned anything about a crush."
"You know the boss and women," Nunzio said. "I mean he got all flustered last year when she showed up at Hemlock's castle to talk to him…" Guido, back on his feet, slapped Nunzio in the back of the head. "Oh, right. Sorry."
My uncle Bruce, also known as Don Bruce the mob's fairy godfather, came up next to me. All our other guests in the hall were friends of ours from all over the dimensions that we had met on our trips. The Pervect Ten, the Sen-Sen Ante Kid, Markie, the Wizard's Apprentices, Griffin the Jahk… all of them people we trusted. Uncle Bruce said, "Bunny don't worry. We'll find him."
"Darn right we will," Tanda said. "Nobody messes with Skeeve without answering to his friends first." The rest of the room cheered their approval."
"Just make sure I get them first," I said softly. Around me people backed away. "So, what are we waiting for? Let's get my fiancé back before the cake goes stale!"
Vic came forward out of the crowd. "I didn't know Matt and Luanna very long, but when we were on the run I was shown a couple of their hang outs in Limbo. I can check those out."
"Good idea," Aahz said. "Take Massha and Chumley with you. While you're there check with Nightmare Dispatch. They can track anyone in the dimensions."
"I'll hit the bazaar," Tanda said. "See if anybody there knows anything."
"My boys will get right on this," Don Bruce said instantly.
"I have some friends in the Perv police," Pookie said. "From what I hear they've got a tracking device for when undesirables visit the dimensions. I can probably use it to track Skeeve."
Other people made suggestions on how they could search. Some of them couldn't do anything and were instead broken up into groups to help those that could. I said, "I'll use Bytina and run a search through the computer network." It wasn't much, but it would have to do.
"Nobody has seen it all." God
Matt had prepared incase the rich guy was a wizard. We had a magic dampening ring fitted around Skeeve's neck. He looked at me and said, "I thought we had a deal."
"We didn't know it was you," I said. We were walking down a street in Limbo. Skeeve was tied up tight and without his magic didn't have any way to escape.
Matt said, "It's just business."
"I guess," Skeeve said. "But I don't think my friends are going to see it that way."
I looked at Matt, worried. "He has a point. When we came up with this plan I didn't think we'd be picking a fight with MYTH Inc.!"
"Neither did I!" He said happily. "We should definitely ask more than a million! Those guys once bet almost half that on a poker game!"
"Matt, remember what they did last time? They chased us down through Limbo for a few gold pieces! What do you think they'll do now?"
"Nothing! You left the ransom note, right?"
"Yeah. I wrote it so that they'd know we'll contact them later with our demands."
"This is a really bad idea…" Skeeve said.
Matt slapped him. "Shut up."
"Matt," I said.
"Just showing him who is in charge here babe," he said. Sneering at Skeeve he said, "He doesn't like me much anyway, do you hotshot?"
"You know what'll happen to you if you try calling for help." Skeeve nodded. "Good then we'll just…"
Skeeve?" The three of them turned and saw a gorgeous vampire girl in a skintight dress. Her hair flowed down past her hips. "Skeeve is that you?"
"Hello Cassandra," Skeeve said.
"I was just on my way to the club! What a weird coincidence running into you here! Why don't you join…" She paused. "Why are you tied up? On our date you never struck me as the type to enjoy that sort of thing."
Skeeve started to speak and Matt jerked on the rope. "Shut up!" He glared at Cassandra and then grabbed my arm. Pulling up behind him he turned and ran.
A few blocks later he stopped and we ducked into an alleyway. I said, "Matt that was…"
"Skeeve?" Something poked its head out of a nearby garbage can. It was green, had lots of sharp teeth, and red eyes. "Hey, remember me? I was in that angry mob that…"
"This is nuts," Matt growled. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out the D-hopper we'd used to get to Limbo. "Let's find someplace where he isn't as well known." I didn't even have time to agree before he hit the button.
"How hard could it possibly be to find one person?" Sauron
I stared at the list in front of me. With the information we'd gotten we were trying to find some kind of pattern to the leaps through the dimensions Skeeve and his kidnappers were taking. They hadn't actually tried to contact us with a ransom drop yet and from what we could find out it was because they were too busy.
After leaving Limbo Matt and Luanna had gone to Deva, an even worse place to hide Skeeve. From there they went to Klah for about five minutes before some of the locals recognized Skeeve and then on to Jahk where an angry mob had chased them through the streets screaming for their trophy back. After that they arrived on Perv and found themselves surrounded by police demanding that Skeeve turn himself in and submit to Pervish justice.
Similar instances were reported from most of the known dimensions. If Skeeve didn't have friends or enemies on a world then people at least recognized him from the Crystal Network or just from his reputation. Or from the movies Brockhurst had shot based on his life. Bunny realized for the first time that Skeeve really got around even before he met her.
But in the last few hours there hadn't been any sign of him, even from the mob and they were very good at finding people who wanted to stay hidden. I was starting to really worry, now that the anger had cooled off. And not just because I'd been waiting to marry Skeeve almost since I met him. I really love him and was damned if I would let anyone get away with threatening him.
Not that it put me in an exclusive club. All around the great hall of Hemlock's castle I saw people rushing around trying to deliver information that I fed into my PDA. Almost everybody we knew loved or cared for Skeeve on some level. Even the Geek, who had wound up on the wrong end of a lot of our capers, was hurriedly checking his contacts to help find him. Many of them were beautiful women and I realized how lucky I was to have finally gotten Skeeve to myself. Eventually someone else would have realized what an amazing catch he was and try for him.
My screen blurred and I realized I was crying. A large hand touched my arm and I turned and saw Massha. "Don't worry Bunny, we'll find him."
"I know Massha… I know," I said. "It's just that I'm so worried. They've been bouncing around the dimensions. By now they have to be pretty desperate. What if they decide it's not worth it?"
"They won't," Massha said firmly.
"She's right," Guido said, stepping around her to where I could see him. His neck was still purple in the shape of my hands. "The boss is way too valuable alive for them to give up just yet. Besides, like you said they are getting desperate. But that's because everywhere they go they keep running into people who know Skeeve. It's probably dawnin' on 'em that killing Skeeve will bring down all kinds of manure-like problems upon their skulls. Know what I mean?"
I smiled a little bit. "Yeah big guy. I know what you mean."
Skeeve's dragon Gleep and his unicorn Buttercup saw forlornly in the corner, watching us. I waved to both of them. "Don't worry guys, we'll get him back."
"Count on it."
"Stop bugging me, I know where I'm going!" C. Columbus
"Matt, are you sure about this?" I asked, looking up at the huge castle.
He nodded. "Don't worry. This dimension is the back of beyond. Nobody comes here any more. And the whole place is a vampire paradise. When I was a kid I'd come here and stay with my uncle Bo." He knocked on the huge door. "Just wait babe, you'll see."
I could tell that Matt was serious about this. We'd been dragging Skeeve through every dimension we could think of and he'd come along quietly. I'd thought that was kind of weird at first, but after a while it became pretty clear why. Everybody knew the Great Skeeve. And I mean everybody.
After a while a man came and opened the doors. "Matt! What are you doing here boy? I haven't heard from you in centuries!"
"Hi uncle Bo," Matt said happily. "I don't mean to intrude, but we kind of need a place to hole up for a while so we can work some things out."
"Of course my boy! Come on in. And who is this lovely girl?"
"Luanna," I said. He took my hand and bowed over it, giving me a small kiss on the wrist. "Hey, you're not a vampire."
"Not any more," he said. "But as a magician I still enjoy a very long life. The last few years haven't made it easy. There aren't that many vampires left on this world. Most of them were wiped out when…" He paused and looked over our shoulders. "Skeeve? Is that you?"
"Hello Count Bovine," Skeeve said. I looked back at him in shock and he came me what I considered to be an unfair smirk. "Long time no see."
Next to me Matt's smile cracked and he dropped to his knees, tears in his eyes. "It's not fair! It's just not fair!"
"You won't believe what happened to me on the way home. Did you miss me?" E.T.
The world began to go black. I felt an intense paid and then a bright light. In the light I saw my mother. "Head towards the light Skeeve…"
Then another voice said, "Bunny, he's turning blue!" And suddenly the vice-like grips around my body released. My real vision came back and I saw a different kind of angel. Taking a deep breath I said, "I'm happy to see you too Bunny."
"Oh Skeeve!" She said. Leaning into my shoulder she cried loudly. "I was so worried."
"I apologize for my nephew's actions," Count Bovine said behind me.
"Yeah, well thanks for bringing Skeeve back," Don Bruce said. "But me and the boys still want to have a few words with them."
"I'd help you if I could," Bovine said. "Vampires never were much on playing happy families. But as soon as they turned him over to me I'm afraid my nephew and his lady friend vanished for parts unknown."
"I'm just glad he's back," Bunny said. Around us a lot of people expressed similar sentiments.
"Guys, I'm fine," I tried to assure them. Nearly everyone in the room had rushed forward when I arrived to hug me and welcome me back. Then Bunny had come barreling through the crowd and after that everything had gone dark. I looked at her and said, "Uh Bunny, just so you know… the stripper wasn't my idea."
"I know Skeeve."
A Deveel in black robes and a white collar cleared his throat. "I don't suppose you want to call the wedding off?"
"No!" The entire room shouted at once.
"Then if you'll take your places."
"Just tell me where the Hell you've been!" Mrs. Dante
I'd never admit this in public, but as I stood in place next to Skeeve as his best man, I began to really feel my age. Despite the assurances and happy faces everyone had put on for Bunny, none of us had been all that confident of getting my partner back. In all my years I've never met anyone who could put years on me like Skeeve and that includes members of my own family.
How the kid gets into these fixes is anybody's guess. Sometimes I wonder if one of the gold statues we took from Garkin's place really was cursed. When I first took him on as an apprentice it was mostly because I had to deal with assassins and a madman without any magic of my own. But like everyone else I quickly grew to like him. Skeeve was so open and honest and so… so helpless. Like a dog. It was easy to forget that he even had teeth most of the time until someone hit him once too often and he sank them into their arm.
I handed him the ring and looked around at the dozens of people crowding the room. For a kid I found living alone in the woods he had a lot of friends now. Most of the closest were former enemies. Even I wasn't sure how that had happened and I'd been there. I'd been there when Skeeve was sitting quietly in a tiny room and doing nothing and trouble just landed in his lap. Even when I wasn't around he somehow ended up in over his head and we all had to come bail him out.
No, that's not true. I've seen Skeeve get himself out of nearly as many messes as he's gotten himself into and save other people in the process. And truth to tell, a lot of those messes were the fault of either me or people I introduced him to. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if he and I had never met in the first place? If Garkin had been the one to keep teaching him.
Skeeve leaned in and he and Bunny shared a deep kiss. I couldn't help smiling. "Well Skeeve, now that you're married maybe Bunny can keep you out of trouble."
Suddenly the huge double doors at the end of the room burst open. In stepped a whole group of demons. Deveels, Pervects, Jahks, vampires, and a others. A Pervect in a police uniform stepped to the front of the group and pointed at Skeeve. "Arrest that man!"
I slapped my face and I swear to you I felt like someone was sucking the very life out of me. "Never mind."
"How can one kid be such a pain in the ass?" Merlin
By, Clayton Overstreet
"Surely these men will see reason and let me go." E.T.
They call me Skeeve the Great. Currently though I'm known as prisoner 45796 and have been for about three weeks. I was in Guano-ton-or-more (also known as Get-Mo or You Can't Get In More Trouble If You Try), a maximum-security cell on Perv and under constant surveillance. In their defense I can't really blame them for that one. I've engineered escapes from living prisons, magic dampening prisons, and the personal custody of the head wizard of Jahk. Add that to the reputation I had around the dimensions and all of my friends and contacts who would gladly and in some cases easily free me from most prisons and I was lucky I was allowed to move around in my cell.
Finally I was given a lawyer. He showed up in my cell and to my surprise he was somebody I knew. "Shai-ster?"
"Evening Mr. Skeeve," he said sitting across from me. The Pervect guards watched for a moment until they realized Shai-ster wasn't going to talk until they left. "And make sure those cameras are off. This is attorney-client privilege and violating that is a major felony." The tiny red lights on the cameras watching us went off.
"Wow am I glad to see you. They threw me in here and nobody told me what for."
"Well it depends on who you ask. The Pervects banned you from the planet and then you came back twice." I started to argue but he held up his hands. "The vampires from Kowtow want you for genocide, Jahk wants you for theft, the bazaar merchants guild is trying to get in on the action and claim damages from you for everything they paid you to keep the mob out of the bazaar, and one little old lady saw you on the Crystal Network during Sink-or-swim Perv and seems to think some part of your body that was showing at the time violates decency… we're pretty sure that one is frivolous."
"So Don Bruce sent you to help me?" I asked.
"Uh no. You see the other Don's heard about the Deveel's complaints and feel that you may have insulted the mob in general. I've been sent to make sure you get off…" He leaned forward. "So that they can get their hands on you." He smiled. "But don't worry Skeeve, I don't hold what you did against you… even if it did make me look bad. It was just business, right?"
I swallowed hard. Maybe it would be better to plead guilty. "Any other bad news?"
"I'm not sure. I seems Don Bruce's niece has been desperately filing for the rights to a conjugal visit. It seems your honeymoon was prematurely interrupted."
I groaned. Bunny would not be happy with me. "Any chance you can kill me now? Just make it look like I hung myself on my underwear?"
"We checked into that. Wouldn't work."
I realized he was serious "Look Shai-ster. Come on. You can't be serious about that. I was working in the mob's best interest when I did that."
"How do you figure?" He said sarcastically.
I thought fast. What would Aahz say? "Well they came to me right? I was the one who introduced you guys to the bazaar, but they didn't know that. So they just came to me because I was the most powerful wizard around. If it hadn't been me it would have been somebody else. Somebody who would have probably turned you guys into newts."
Shai-ster looked skeptical, but he was listening. "Maybe…"
"And I couldn't risk telling you guys. I didn't know you that well back then and if you'd said something to the wrong people then they would have thought I was really working for you and called in another wizard then too." He nodded. "The way we ended up doing it got everyone out of it alive and left the mob with a profitable enterprise on Deva. And even if we hadn't, then still having access to shop the bazaar is worth more than all the illegal enterprises you could have opened up there."
Shai-ster rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "You make some good points there Skeeve. I'll tell the bosses what you said." He shrugged. "But that doesn't really change my job at the moment. I'm supposed to get you out of prison."
Nervously Is aid, "So how do we do that?"
"I'll get some witnesses together and we'll see what we can do."
"If it helps I don't really deserve most of what you listed," I said.
Shai-ster sighed. "I believe you Skeeve, really I do. The trick is to convince a jury. Now one by one lets go over your version of the events as you remember them."
"What are you doing here?" Rincewind (Actual quote from prison scene in Terry Pratchett's Interesting Times)
The next day my cell door opened and the guard said, "You can come out. Your bail was paid."
"Great!" I said. "So I can go home?"
The Pervect laughed. "No! It means you're allowed out in the yard and to have visitors. If you think your friends will pay the deluxe bail fees…"
I sighed. I should have known. "Never mind." At least I'd get to see daylight again. I followed him peacefully out of the cell and down a long hallway until we reached the exercise yard. There were several dozen other prisoners, all in the same orange jumpsuits I was wearing.
"Don't even try using magic in here. We have a field generator that knocks it all out, the prison was built a long way from any force lines, and we have an EMP generator to knock out technology too. The guards are all armed with gunpowder based weapons that'll punch a hole through you at the first hint of anything wrong." He grinned. "And of course there's always the occasional accident."
I smiled back and he frowned. Pervects aren't used to people not being frightened by their smiles. "I'll keep that in mind."
Wandering around the yard I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feel of the light on my skin. I was a lot paler now than when I'd gone in. Still I was just grateful they hadn't insisted on feeding me Pervish food. Apparently there were laws against cruelty like that.
Suddenly I ran into something. Opening my eyes I saw a hulking purple… thing. It had one eye and a large horn and wings. It had tusks, claws, and stood over three feet taller than even my troll friend Chumley. "Sorry." Though suddenly I remembered that nobody had been in front of me a moment before so he must have stepped in front of me.
"Who're you, Fresh Meat?" It snarled.
"Nobody," I said nervously.
He poked me in the chest with one claw. "What's a klahd like you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?" I countered trying to sound brave. Knowing that I didn't have any magic to work with was quickly sapping my bravery. I had never been much good in a straight fight.
A friendly voice behind me said, "He's here for the same reason so many of us are. Lots of death, destruction, and attempts at dominating the world."
I froze, my eyes wide. So did the hulking thing in front of me. I recognized that voice. "Oh."
"I wasn't talking to you,' the voice said, right in my ear, laying a hand on my shoulder. A man with a large beard and a lot of laugh lines stepped into my view and looked up at the thing. "Now you're just one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater." He leaned in to my ear. "He was a rock star at one point, but got arrested for eating purple people. But I think he'd find the Great Skeeve a bit of a mouth full."
"He's Skeeve the great?" The purple people eater squealed. Then he bowed low. "I'm so sorry." It looked at the man next to me. "Sorry Isstvaan." It backed away quickly and moved to the other end of the yard.
"Skeeve my boy,' said Isstvaan in a jovial voice. "Such a long time since I've seen you. Of course I've heard all about you over the years, though if I don't miss my guess I'd say a lot of your reputation is based on Aahz's attempts to build you up."
Swallowing I tried to sound calm. Isstvaan had lost his powers the same way as Aahz. He shouldn't be much of a threat. But then again the hand on my shoulder felt very strong and from the way the monster we'd just faced was acting that didn't stop him from being very dangerous. "Oh a little of both really. I've tried to keep busy."
"So I've heard. I'm surprised to see you in here at such a young age. This is a prison for evil overlords after all."
"How did you get here?" I asked.
He grinned. "Well as I understand it Tananda, after dropping me off on Coney, turned me in for a rather substantial reward."
"She didn't tell us about that," I said. Then again I'd only just met Tanda then and if Aahz had known he probably would have made her split the reward.
He smiled. "I'm not surprised. But enough about that! As I was saying I've heard all about you. Especially the parts about escaping from prisons…" He winked at me.
I frowned and shook off his hand. "Forget it Isstvaan. Even if I were going to escape from here instead of waiting for my trial and being released that way, I wouldn't help you get out of here under any circumstances. You're insane and belong in prison!"
He contrived to look hurt. "What makes you say that?"
"I think it was the part where you tried to take over the dimensions and had Garkin killed. Or maybe it was how you compared fun to raping the dead body of your sister."
"Oh… that." He said.
"Besides," I added. "Unlike you I'm not guilty." I said this loudly, even though I knew that any if not all of the Pervect guards could hear me.
"You know Skeeve, I believe you. But like you say I am guilty and I think I'll just kill you for the fun of-" I didn't give him time to finish. I was sure some people would have been put off by Isstvaan's friendly manner and lack of magical powers. I on the other hand had heard too much about him from Aahz, met him myself, and knew what Aahz was capable of without magic. I had already seen the knife in his hand and was ready.
Twisting I grabbed the old man's arm and used everything Guido and Nunzio had taught me about fighting to disarm him, break his arm, and knock him unconscious. Once he was down I backed away, just incase he was faking. "You know they say you should always beat someone up your first day in prison."
I looked around the yard at the evil overlords and guards. Nobody moved to help and a few even nodded at me.
"No means no!" P Le Pew
I was sent back to my cell after the incident with Isstvaan. That was just as well since I hadn't wanted to have to defend my new title against the other people in the yard. I wasn't about to complain about my incarceration and tried to be happy with the idea of being in prison. If nothing else it meant that for once I could be absolutely certain that none of the crazy things I was used to could happen to me for once.
"A visitor for the Great Skeeve," a guard snarled as my cell door opened.
I looked up in surprise, expecting to see a snarling Pervect. Instead I was greeted by a vision of loveliness. "Bunny!"
"Oh Skeeve!" She sobbed and threw herself into my arms.
"What are you doing here?" I gasped as she encased me in an iron hug. I'd been in chains with more give than Bunny's arms.
Smiling she looked me in the eyes. "It took a lot of paperwork, but with everyone's help I managed to get a conjugal visit!"
"You need a good lawyer." B. Matlock
I was bruised, hurting, but amazingly happy when I entered the courtroom. That faded quickly. When I was younger I had wanted to be a thief. Over the years I had managed to give that life a try a few times. But I had never felt as guilty about anything I'd done as I did sitting to the charges. Sure, I'd managed to get away with it and felt good doing it at the time, but there's nothing quite like seeing a parade of people point accusing fingers at you while you sit there and take it.
"He stole our beloved trophy!" A Jahk said. "And they cheated!"
A Deveel pointed a claw at me and snarled, "He has been bilking the Merchant's Guild for years!"
"He organized a strike at my plant!"
A vampire, tears streaming down her cheeks, sobbed out, "My family- watching them fry in the sun when we thought we were safe!"
I whispered to Shai-ster. "They were trying to eat me!" He nodded and waved me down.
When the seemingly endless lone of people finally ended Shai-ster stood up and to my surprise called them all again, one by one. The Pervect judge didn't look happy, but sat through the cross-examination. This time it sounded more in my favor. The vampires were discredited when they were forced to admit that they had indeed been trying to eat me at the time and that the leader of Kowtow was the one who asked me to remove the cow spell from them. The Jahk's complaints were thrown out because the game had been an official way to settle the match and we'd offered them every chance to win it back. The Deveels… the judge didn't like them to begin with and said it was their own fault for not doing proper research.
The real problem was the probation and my repeated returns to Perv after I had been banned from there. Apparently on Perv the cops had certain administrative powers. This was due to the Pervects being a species whose answer to most conflicts was to rip off their opponent's head. Police had to make immediate decisions on whether a person's actions were warranted before even trying to haul them in for trial. The only reason I was being given one was because I was extradited from another world.
Shai-ster stood up and addressed the court. "I wish to say that my client's expulsion from Perv was unjustified in the first place. The few run-ins he had with the authorities were the results of misunderstandings that even a species as impressive as a Pervect could have had on any unfamiliar world. I have witnesses, some from the Brand-Ex Corporation, who have been to Skeeve's home world of Klah and in their first days made mistakes not unlike Skeeve's.
"But I don't wish to waste any more of the court's valuable time. I will just point out that MYTH Inc. and other organizations and people that Skeeve has had contact with, are all high end money earners and by keeping him from this dimension you are denying said business to Perv and its people."
I could practically heard the ringing of cash registers in people's heads as the judge said, "Case dismissed!"
I shook Shai-ster's hand as he came back to the table. "Thanks."
"Don't think me yet," he said. "Now you get to talk to the big guys."
"We are here to help you! We're your friends!" Authors of 'To Serve Man'
I looked around the room at the men in suits. They were all pretty much the same. Don Bruce stood out, but he sat silently in the back. Bunny was next to him. He couldn't do much for the rest of us, but in the Mob family was everything. I was there with the rest of my friends at MYTH Inc. Around us were a lot of enforcers, some of whom looked like they could give Chumley a good fight.
"Shai-ster told us your explanation for why you appear to have repeatedly acted against our interests." Don Ho said.
Don De Don-don-don said, "And it's a good line of bullshit kid, but we can't let people think we're weak. So we're afraid you'll have to go."
Aahz stood up straighter and growled. "You want to repeat that?" Suddenly there were three crossbows pointed at him from some of the people around the room. My other friends shifted their stance preparing for a fight.
But I'd spent the last few weeks in the company of people a lot worse than them. All the same I was pretty sure that most of the people around me had spent at least some time in prison or with a lot of people who did. So the same rules applied.
"Gentlemen," I said. "I understand your position. But you're missing the key point of my argument." I snapped my fingers, mostly for effect. Suddenly around the room all the crossbows burst into flames. The enforcers all dropped their burning weapons, wincing in pain. The dons seemed a lot less impressive all of a sudden. Especially the ones patting their own suit pockets where they'd had weapons concealed. "Look, I like to think of myself as a good guy and I'm not nearly as strong or impressive as my reputation says, but in all seriousness I am a wizard."
"You… you've never done that before," Don Ho said. "Nobody has ever heard of you killing anyone."
"Actually I have. It's just that since I took Big Julies army away from you, you never heard the reports on the war. When you get the chance, ask about what I did to a guy named the Brute for nearly killing Aahz."
"It's rather awful seeing a man torn apart by his own men," Tanda said.
"Look, I'm willing to admit that I don't like to hurt people. But if it's needed I do it," I said. "And nobody in the mob can stop me. Like I told Shai-ster, if you were dealing with another wizard they probably would have killed you all already."
"I would have," Aahz snarled.
"If you want I could do the same thing I did to your weapons to you."
To my surprise, instead of backing down, the mob Don's all dropped to one knee. "Whatever you say… boss."
"Boss!" I said. I looked up at Don Bruce who smirked and shrugged. Next to him Bunny was looking smug. "Oh no!"
"You beat us," Don Ho said. "That means you're in charge."
"Good job Skeeve," Aahz said and clapped me on the shoulder. "Now we'll make the big bucks."
"Oh no!" I repeated quickly.
"Skeeve," Don Bruce said. "You either have to take control or they have to keep trying to kill you. It's the only way."
"But I…" I thought fast. "I can't be in charge. You see, I… uh… am not a free agent. You wouldn't put an enforcer in charge if he was acting under orders from one of you, would you? Or a hired gun?"
"No…" Don Bruce admitted.
"Then you don't want me! You want my employer!"
"And who would that be?" He glanced at Bunny.
"Long live the queen!" Henry, Rex
Queen Hemlock examined herself in the mirror. She now wore a pinstripe suit that had been tailored to show off her body as well as, if not better than, her usual skimpy clothes. We had explained to her what the mob needed and then after we got her ready agreement, explained to the mob how Hemlock was in charge. After all when we were approached by the mob I'd been her employee (okay, Roderick's, but still…) and how she now had control over a large number of mafia members. Some of Big Julie's men, in exchange for the continued forgetting of their gambling debts, had agreed to return.
"Skeeve this is great!" She said. "I can't thank you enough."
"Better you than me," I said. "And as head of the mob…"
"I agree that MYTH inc is off limits on the grounds that we don't want to be burned into ashes," she said. Leaning in she gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. "But you know we're friends. And I never let business interfere with friendship."
"Good policy," I said. "Think you can convince the rest of the mob?"
She laughed. "I'll make them an offer they can't refuse."
"All's well that ends well." Machiavelli
Back at the offices Aahz and I sat relaxing and sipping wine. Aahz said, "So that's it?"
I shrugged. "Hey, you're the one who always told me that a wizard needs respect."
He grinned broadly. "Well you've got that. And the best part is that we're back as the mob reps at the bazaar, the merchant's guild is hiring us as the resident wizards again at twice our original fee, and we even got a new employee out of the whole thing."
Bunny entered the room and gave me a kiss on the cheek, wrapping her arms around me and pressing her chest to the back of my head. I tried not to smile too stupidly. "And so far he's doing great as our new collection agent."
Don Bruce and Tanda entered the front of the tent. "See? You don't need to beat down everyone until you get answers. You just find the guy in charge and get him to do it for you."
"Yeah, but where's the fun in that?" Tanda asked.
"How'd it go Uncle Bruce?" Bunny asked.
He tossed her a bag of gold. "Fine Bu… uh… Boss." He winked at me. "A working retirement. I gotta say Skeeve, I'm really enjoying working for other people again. And it's nice working for somebody who probably won't whack me for a mistake."
"Don't push it," Bunny said with a smirk.
"Well, we're at the top of our game, we're not wanted for any crimes, and we've managed to get through another close call," Aahz said. "You know Skeeve, I'm beginning to think that there is nothing we can't handle."
I was about to agree when the ground started to shake. Outside I heard loud screams and crashes, like a dragon was running through the bazaar. We all turned as a loud voice screamed, "Bring us the Great Skeeve!"
Guido and Nunzio ran through the front of the tent. Guido looked right at me and said, "Hey Boss, you're gonna want to see this."
We all ran back to the front of the tent and stared out. I had been entirely wrong about it being a dragon running through the bazaar. There were hundreds of dragons. I glanced back over my shoulder to where Gleep was pushing through the group of my friends. "Well?" He shrugged.
A dragon like a small mountain walked towards my tent. I had thought the dragon Big Julie had was huge. This thing made that size seem like a mere toy. It bent down, smoke curling in waves from its nose. "Are you Skeeve?" It was clearly whispering. Still the voice shook the ground around us almost as much as its footsteps.
"Um… yes?" I said hesitantly.
"I am Leviathan, leader of Draco the dragon dimension. We want to hire you for a little job."
Behind me Tanda slapped Aahz upside the back of the head. "You and your big mouth!"
"Here we go again!" Buddha