sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 07:25 am
Entry tags:

Glue And Balsa; G.

Note: This takes place sometime between Equal Rites and Guards! Guards!, falling after "The Birthday Present" In my fanfiction chronology.
Summary: Vetinari looks after his friend.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.


'Ah,' said Cuddy. 'Er. This is just off of the top of my head, you understand, but I suppose he couldn't . . . just have gone somewhere where you couldn't see him?'
'Nah, that wouldn't be like old Leonard. He wouldn't disappear. But he might vanish.'
-- Men At Arms

Lord Vetinari, Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork, last remnant of a great empire, was a man used to arranging things so that trouble was prevented before it started. Or, since even a Vetinari is not omnipotent*, he arranged other things so that trouble, when it came, faced several whirring blades, a small contingent of deadly assassins, and a scorpion pit before it was allowed to do any real harm.

* If you asked them, they'd never admit it.

He did not consider himself a man with blind spots*. He had to admit he hadn't seen this one coming.

* Though several people who'd encountered his pet terrier thought otherwise.

Leonard! They'd been in school together! Very briefly, true, because Leonard had been thrown out of the Assassins' Guild after two weeks for being too bloody clever by half, but still. As young men in Ankh-Morpork, Havelock and Leonard had got on fairly well. Leonard's workshop in the Street of Cunning Artificers was quite restful, except for the occasional necessity to leap through windows when one of his experiments went terminal. Leonard's outlook on the world was something that the Patrician sometimes wished he could share, because it would make life so much easier. Visiting him always put things in perspective.

He wrapped his long coat tighter around himself. It was raining, which was pleasantly dramatic in theory and bloody annoying in practice.

He knocked on the door of Leonard's workshop, where a light was still burning. He was already slightly nervous, an unusual state for the Patrician, and stifled a yell when a gigantic nose answered the door.

Leonard pushed the Makes-Things-Bigger lens up and away from his face, revealing a normal-sized nose. Normal for Leonard, anyway.

"My lord," Leonard said brightly. He had never got the hang of addressing Vetinari as anything else. "Come in, come in." He gestured him inside. "I'm just having a bit of a brew up, but I'm afraid I got rather distracted by the interesting shape of the teapot -- "

"Leonard, I think we ought to talk," said Vetinari. Those who had encountered him on a regular basis would be surprised at the gentleness of his tone.

"Oh yes, but tea -- " Leonard waved his hand at a large charcoal sketch, which was mostly concealing a kettle of water that had boiled almost dry. The stove, Vetinari noticed, had gone out.

"There will be tea at the palace," the Patrician said firmly. "I think you had best pack some clothing, Leonard. And any books you require."

"Books I require for what, my Lord?" Leonard asked, his eyebrows drawing together.

"The rest of your life," the Patrician answered.

Leonard gave him a measured looking, having momentarily been distracted from the half-dozen things he was always thinking about.

"I see," he said slowly. "Are there armed guards?"


"Hired assassins?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Did you at least bring a few men for heavy lifting?"

"Anything heavy enough to require extra movers, Leonard, will be provided."

Leonard nodded. "I appreciate that."

"I rather thought you might." The Patrician accepted a small pile of books from the artist, who was packing clothing, neatly and sensibly, into a suitcase. "There will be art supplies," he added helpfully.

"I should hope so!" Leonard said. "May we pause for a moment, my Lord, while I redesign -- "

"No, Leonard."

"Of course. Of course. Where are my manners." Leonard shut the suitcase and picked up two long sticks, wrapped in fabric. For a second, the Patrician thought he was going to attack, but he merely handed one of them to him.

"What are they?" Vetinari asked.

"They're a derivation of an Agatean device. I invented this particular design while studying skeletal structures of birds and their application towards flying machines." Leonard stepped outside and twiddled a ring on the base of his. The fabric unfurled into a dome over Leonard's head. "I call them the Keep-Me-Dry Sticks. I believe the Agatean word is Boom-pah-choot."

Vetinari gave his own Boom-pah-choot an experimental twirl. He smiled, vaguely.

"Come along, Leonard. I have a carriage waiting. And I shall take this," he added. He picked up the object by the door, which looked like a long tube on a crossbow stock, and had a quite complicated mechanism on one end, for firing lead pellets -- bullettes, Leonard called them, with unusual poetry. It was the reason...well not the reason, but the final straw, really...why Leonard was being vanished.


"Oh, oh my."

Leonard turned around and around, his eyes taking in every inch of the wide, airy room. His old workshop, which was all he could afford on an income that varied wildly from day to day, had been a dark barnlike construction with smoke-stained walls and a leaky pump at one end. Whereas this...

"Look at the skylights!" Leonard shouted, listening to the echo of his voice. The Patrician, standing in the doorway and shaking the excess water from his boom-pah-choot, set Leonard's suitcase down smoothly.

The loft was large and open, with a scaffolding along one wall that contained a bed, dresser, and drafting desk. A considerably larger drafting desk, work table, and several metallurgy tools were spread about the floor, amid easels of every size and shape.

And Leonard, with all the simplicity of a child, was staring at the many skylights in the ceiling.

"I shall be able to watch the birds all day long," he said, his voice full of awe. "The natural light will be marvelous for painting. Are there paints?" he asked, eagerly. The Patrician waved a hand at the workbench. Ten or twelve pots of unopened paint stood next to a veritable forest of paintbrushes.

"An embarrassment of riches," Leonard exclaimed. "But I'm afraid some of this will have to be re-designed."

"Yes, I thought that might be the case," the Patrician commented. "And of course, there is the Labyrinth..."

"The Labyrinth?"

"Oh yes. Can't have you escaping. I need you to design a series of booby traps to prevent yourself from breaking out. And other people from breaking in -- with the exception of myself, of course."

But Leonard hadn't heard more than the first half of the sentence. He was already sketching something involving swinging pendulums and various other examples of Physics As A Destructive Force.

Vetinari nodded to himself, shouldered the boom-pah-choot, and felt the weight of the well-wrapped gonne under his arm. "Is there anything else you require, Leonard?"

"Glue," the genius muttered, pencil moving madly. "And perhaps some balsa wood."

"Very well. Until tomorrow." Vetinari shut the door behind him, and turned the key in the lock.


Thomas Bleedwell had remained head of the Assassins' Guild for several years by never eating anything a subordinate offered him*, never sitting with his back to a doorway, and never ignoring a summons from the Patrician. The fact that the summons had been to meet the Patrician at the archery butts at sunrise was worrying, but not unduly. Vetinari had his own reasons for everything he did.

* Although this was probably a ridiculous paranoia. It was dishonourable to kill a superior if you hadn't been paid to do it.

He was waiting for Thomas, tall and composed, with an awkward-shaped object leaning against one leg. It looked like a tube, mounted on a crossbow stock. It looked, in fact, like a one-shot.

Doubly worrying.

"Good morning, Havelock," The Hon. Lord Bleedwell said, hurrying up to the Patrician in the slowly brightening gloom.

"Good morning, Thomas," Vetinari said gravely. "I appreciate your attendance."

"Always ready to make sacrifices for the good of the city -- "

"Quite." The remark shut him off like a steel wall. "I would like to show you something."

Thomas watched as Vetinari shouldered the weapon. "The Assassins have outlawed the use of one-shots in the city -- " he began, but a sharp crack, like a fireworks rocket, interrupted. He stared as an evil-looking seagull tumbled to earth, sans head. The bird had been circling high above the city -- far too high for a crossbow, even a one-shot, to hit. Then he looked back to Vetinari, who was standing in a small cloud of smoke. A second crack put a fine, circular hole in the center of a target. A third blew a dangling, rotten fruit off of a tree branch in a shower of pulp and peel. There had been no pause. It didn't need re-loading.

Oh, ye gods.

"Yes," Vetinari said, as he looked at Bleedwell's face. "Quite dangerous, isn't it?"

"What is it?"

"It is called a gonne. It is the only one extant," the Patrician said softly. "It is not a weapon which the Guild would look on with a friendly eye, I should think."

"Of course not," Thomas stammered. "An abomination!"

"Precisely." Vetinari slid the weapon into a leather sheath. He held it out. "Destroy it. Do not touch it. Melt it down and burn the wood."

"Certainly..." the head of the Assassins felt the hard metal tube through the leather. "We'll make sure there's no trace left."

"Yes, you will." Vetinari's boots crunched on the frosty ground as he began the walk back towards his coach. "Good day, Thomas."

Tom Bleedwell stood there, tempted to unwrap the sheath and try firing the thing himself. Then he saw Vetinari, standing in front of the coach, watching him. With a sigh, he put the strap over his shoulder and walked towards his own coach. The Patrician was still watching as it pulled away from the butts and rattled back towards the Guild.

Of course the Assassins could destroy it, Vetinari thought, in the silence of his own head. He had been able to pick up the gonne and fire it and still give up that immense power, but only just. He'd only meant to fire once, but the gonne had the disturbing habit of tempting its victims to do more.

He had not been able to destroy it. But Thomas Bleedwell had called it an abomination -- he would certainly be able to do away with the weapon. Of course.

I hope.


[identity profile] 2005-09-20 04:51 am (UTC)(link)
*oh, and you get the fotnotes out beautifully too. just the right snideness.

[identity profile] 2005-09-30 02:56 am (UTC)(link)
Another story that fits perfectly with book events. This exchange was brilliant:

"I see," he said slowly. "Are there armed guards?"


"Hired assassins?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Did you at least bring a few men for heavy lifting?"

[identity profile] 2008-01-13 10:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I loved this! I like Vetinari's relationship with Leonard so much, and you captured it perfectly. I love the mention of his brief passage at the Assassins' guild too. And it all fits in so perfectly with the events in "Men At Arms"; especially how the way Vetinari deals with the gonne is -almost- completely sensible.

[identity profile] 2008-01-14 04:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it :)

Thomas Bleedwell

[identity profile] 2009-04-20 04:10 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, well done Sam! Would this be the same Honorable Thomas Bleedwell who was sent to the Palace in Night Watch? I would never have noticed that if I hadn't been listening to it on audiobook just last month.

Re: Thomas Bleedwell

[identity profile] 2009-04-20 04:17 am (UTC)(link)
It was indeed! :D
true_masquerade: (el lol)

[personal profile] true_masquerade 2011-04-24 11:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I love the exchanges between Verinari and Leonard. Some of what Vetinari says to him seems to go straight over his head, sometimes he's just distracted with the latest shiny thing... and then sometimes I can't decide whether his genius mind on the same page as Vetinari or if he just trusts Verinari and his pragmatism, like this exchange and the bit that follows:
"The rest of your life," the Patrician answered.

Leonard gave him a measured looking, having momentarily been distracted from the half-dozen things he was always thinking about.

And the Labyrinth exchange also made me giggle :-)