Disclaimer:

Everything M.Y.T.H. is copyright Robert Asprin and his publishers. My own characters are copyright me.

Feel free to email me with comments: magz@charter.net

-Magz

http://webpages.charter.net/noise/

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Chapter 1 – Skeeve's point of view.

I'm not quite sure where to begin. Aahz always says the beginning is a good start…but I get the distinct feeling I'm being insulted at such times. At the start, there were only three of us. Aahz, Guido, and myself. I'm Skeeve, or as some may know me, the Great Skeeve. I'm quickly trying to discourage the use of that title though, seeing as I don't feel all too great most of the time.

Even though I'm the president of M.Y.T.H. Inc., I can't really consider myself the boss. All decisions are made by a vote, or diplomatically. I think that means fair. See, I come from a pretty backwards dimension known as Klah. At least, the others say it's backwards. Having grown up there, I still see it as home and for such a long time, it was all I knew. But, after years of living abroad, very abroad, I've come to see it as pretty backwards as well. They just aren't up to the standards I've become used to. So saying, I don't spend much of my time there, and have made the Bazaar of Deva my home.

The Bazaar of Deva is the center point of all the dimensions…or at least seems like it. Every hour of every day, every square inch of that dimension seems to be occupied by somebody. And somebody can be anybody. See, the Bazaar of Deva is just that, a bizarre bazaar. Beings from all walks of life and almost every dimension visit this area to trade and barter with each other and the local inhabitants, Deveels.

Ah, but I'm running off at the mouth. That's not the point for this.

The point I'm here is to relate a very curious tale to you. By now, you should be used to the kind of 'curious' tales I encounter. Most of the time it's a surprise to walk away alive.

Anyway!

As I was saying. Aahz, Guido, and myself. We were making our way down a particularly busy street of the bazaar. The small red Deveels popped out from the woodwork (another saying of Aahz's) to quote prices on their goods. The prices were sky high, even to a still-in-training eye as myself, and can be contributed to my status among the dimensions. It seems most have heard of the Great Skeeve, and all wish… I'm doing it again! Back to the present!

The three of us had been sent on this current errand to find a jungo fruit. Tananda, the green haired Trollop who requested the fruit, has told me that a jungo fruit is similar to a dragon fruit. Chumley, Tananda's hairy moon-eyed Troll brother, has also told me that a dragon fruit is somewhat similar to muklok. And Aahz has told me that a muklok is similar to the shape of my head if I don't stop asking questions.

So I'm content to walk behind the hulking forms of Aahz and Guido down the street while we hunt for this fruit. Now, Aahz is a sight all on his own. But when a bulky, scaled Pervect is placed next to the even bulkier form of a mobster bodyguard, no one stands in their way. The going was easy, and we covered much more distance in less time than if I'd been out on my own.

Which, by the way, I'm not allowed doing anymore. The whole reputation thing has a few bad points as well. Like the fact that some people want me dead. Thus, any solo excursions are out of the question.

Now, at this point, I'm content to let Aahz and Guido do the looking. Seems Guido has seen a jungo fruit before, as well as Aahz. I'm left to my own thoughts while the two go from one fruit stand to another.

Unfortunately, there is some system to the bazaar. It seems that all the fruit vendors group together, hence creating competition, lower prices, and something Aahz calls 'capitalism'. But as you can infer from this, if we don't find the fruit at one vendor, we won't find it at any surrounding vendors in the area.

Thus, it stands to reason that we have to cover a very large area to find the right tent that sells jungo fruit. I've lost my bearings by this point, and am relying on my partner and bodyguard to get me home safely. At last, after what seems like twenty different streets and vendors, we hit jackpot.

Guido holds up a spiked orange and purple fruit. "Hey, Aahz. Is this one?"

Aahz takes it from Guido's hand, thinking for a second as he runs it through his memory. "No, that's a jingo fruit. He should have a jungo though. Hey! Over here!"

That last bit is directed at the fat Deveel making his way over to us. I can see him running us over with his beady eyes as he stops in front of us. He wiped his hands on apron, smudging dirt on or off his hands I can't tell.

"Yeah, what is it?"

Now, this in itself is strange. Most Deveel's are as polite as need be when they first deal with you. Only when the conversation turns to money and haggling over prices do they tend to show their darker side. By the way the Deveel is glaring at Guido though, I have a feeling there is a reason for the rudeness.

"This is a jingo fruit, right? We're looking for a jungo fruit. Do you have one?" Aahz asks, rather politely I think.

The Deveel shrugs, grunting. "Yeah." He leans down, pulling out a box from beneath the table, and sits it down in front of us. "How many do you want?"

"How much are they?" Of course, we have more than enough money on us. If we wanted, I was sure we could buy the Deveels entire stock for a good price. Such is the magik business! Still, Aahz isn't one for needless penny wasting. He picked up two of the jungo fruit as he looked up at the Deveel.

The Deveel shrugs again. "For a mobster? Thirty a piece." He stares pointedly at Guido.

Guido seems genuinely surprised at being recognized as a mobster. Though he still has the ties and reports once a month to Don Bruce, he hasn't been directly involved with the mob for quite a while.

"What?" he and Aahz both question at the same time. "How do you know I'm from the mob?"

"You nearly broke my arm making me pay you for 'insurance'!" snaps the Deveel, leaning over his display to get nose to nose with my bodyguard. "And only two days later, some fat purple thing knocks over my whole tent! I was almost ruined! It took me over a year to get the profits coming in again! And all that insurance you promised never even showed up!" He accented the last with a finger jab at Guido's nose.

Guido smacked his hand away; I was pleasantly surprised he didn't break the Deveels arm for that.

Aahz interrupted the angry retort I could see forming on Guido's lips. "That wasn't his fault, and he's not part of the mob anymore, buddy." He flashed the Deveel a smile, leaning forward over the display as well. I saw the Deveel blanche a bit, turning a little pinkish as Aahz leant in, teeth displayed in what was not a friendly smile. "Now drop the price, buddy, or you're going to have to work for another year to get profits again."

Jumping on his cue, Guido shoved the display just the tiniest bit with his leg. Then again, a tiny shove from Guido is like the strongest push I can muster. The display tilted dangerously before righting itself, losing only a few fruits in the process. Still, it was enough for the Deveel.

"Fifteen."

"Ten," came the unison reply.

"Thirteen," he snapped.

"Eleven."

"Twelve, and that's it!"

"Fine!" Aahz dug in his pocket and pulled out enough gold pieces for two, and held them out for the Deveel. As he reached to take them though, Aahz casually let them slip from his grip to the ground.

The Deveel glared at us all but knelt down without a word and began picking them up. Guido took the chance to pocket two more jungo fruit. They turned their back to the tent, and I stepped out with them into the main stream. They stopped when in the middle of the road, grinning to each other over their success. As we'd grown accustomed to, the hordes of people around us stayed away and we remained unjostled even though we stood in the middle of traffic. Travel in style, I always say!

"We certainly did okay there!" grinned Aahz, slapping a hand on Guido's back. The force with which he hit Guido would have sent me sprawling to the pavement, but Guido barely acknowledged it.

"You bet!" he answered Aahz with a grin. "Still possible to put one over 'em, no matter how intelligent the proprietor thinks he is!"

I considered for a second mentioning the old rule of dealing with a Deveel. If you think you've made a good deal, first count your money. Then your fingers, then your limbs…but I figured now wasn't a good time. Let them gloat for a while.

Aahz said something I missed and they broke into a fresh gale of laughter. I smiled, faking understanding as I joined in.

I was suddenly bumped aside by a woman walking past us. As I reeled to the left, I glimpsed her nose buried in a map of sorts. She proceeded past me, shouldered past Guido and then Aahz. She surprised Guido as well, and he stumbled backwards from the force of her shouldering. Aahz though has enough time to not be caught off guard and their left shoulders smacked into each other causing them both to rebound a few steps from the collision.

Dropping the map, the woman was startled back into the present, snapping her head up to look at Aahz. "Oh! I'm sorry, I…" she trailed off, and for the first time in the second of silence that followed, I noticed that she was blue.

Now when I say blue, I don't merely mean blue clothes like Don Bruce. True, the halter top she wore like a second skin was a matching dark blue to the loose fitting low cut pants, but it was the light blue skin that you noticed. It was eerily beautiful. A mane of white hair fell down her back almost to her waist. Her dark blue eyes were riveted on Aahz, and her blue lips open in shock. Despite her hair and the trimmings on her pants and shoes, everything on the woman was some shade of blue. It was quite a sight.

Her look of shock slowly turned to one of appraisal, a small smile on her lips as her eyes slowly moved up and down my partner. Aahz visibly puffed out under her scrutiny, straightening up and throwing his shoulders back and chest out. He flashed a smile to the woman, his own golden eyes moving over her body.

Her smile became a sultry one, and she leaned to one side, adding even more curve to her hips.

"Hi."

Aahz's smile widened and he gave a nod. "Hi…" He leaned down, scooping up the map without ever breaking eye contact, and held it out for her.

She took it without looking, their touching hands lingering for just a second. Then she moved past him, stepping as if on air. She took two slow steps backward, eyes still on Aahz. She finally turned, looking over her shoulder for a just a second before turning away. She moved into the flow of the crowd, and I knew all three pairs of eyes were on the sway of her hips.

I broke out of the trance first, looking over at Aahz. I laid a hand on his shoulder and he turned around to grin broadly at me.

"Well! That was fun!"

I laughed at his cheap appraisal of the incident. "Yes, Aahz," I agreed with a smile. "More fun for you, though!"

Guido stepped in, lightly punching Aahz on the shoulder. "If I didn't know youse better, I'd go so far as to say youse two had a connection like!"

Aahz laughed, waving off the remark. "Yeah yeah, beautiful girls and what not. C'mon, let's go home."

He stepped past me and Guido fell into line to lead the way. And although Aahz so carelessly waved off the girl, I could see the bounce in his step and the almost permanent smile on his lips.