Jingo Page 26


'Who were they?' said Rust. He fought off an urge to scratch his own arm. 'There was Carrot an' Vimes anna dwarf an' a zombie an' all of them, m'lord. They ran all the way to the docks, m'lord, and Vimes saw Captain Jenkins and he said–'

'Ah, Captain Jenkins! This is your lucky day!' The captain looked up from the rope he was coiling. Noone likes being told it's their lucky day. That sort of thing does not bode well. When someone tells you it's your lucky day, something bad is about to happen. 'It is?' he said. 'Yes, because you have an unrivalled opportunity to aid the war effort!'

'I have?'

'And also to demonstrate your patriotism,' Carrot added. 'I do?'

'We need to borrow your boat,' said Vimes. 'Bugger off!'

'I'm choosing to believe that was a salty nautical expression meaning "Why, certainly,` said Vimes. 'Captain Carrot?' ‘Sir.'

'You and Detritus go and look behind that false partition in the hold,' said Vimes. 'Right, sir,' said Carrot, walking towards the ladder. 'There's no false partition in the hold!' snapped Jenkins. 'And I know the law, and you can't–' There was a crash of timber from below. 'If that wasn't a false partition, our Carrot's gone and knocked a hole in the side,' said Vimes calmly, watching the captain. 'Er...' 11 Except in the particular case of Sidney Lopsides, who was paid two dollars a day from City funds to wear a sack over his head. It wasn't that he was spectacularly deformed, as such, it was merely that anyone who saw him spent the rest of the day with an unnerving feeling that they were upside down.

'I know the law too,' said Vimes. He drew his sword. 'See this?' he said, holding it up. 'This is military law. And military law is a sword . Not a two– edged sword. There's only one edge, and it's pointing at you. Found anything, Carrot?' Carrot appeared over the edge of the hold. There was a crossbow in his hand. 'I do declare,' said Vimes, 'but that looks to me like a Burleigh and Stronginthearm. “Viper” Mk 3, which kills people but leaves buildings standing.'

'There's crates and crates of stuff,' said Carrot. '

's no law–' Jenkins began, but he sounded as if the bottom was dropping out of his world. 'You know, I think there probably is some law against selling weapons to the enemy in times of war,' said Vimes. 'Of course, there might not be. Tell you what,' he added brightly, 'why don't we all go along to Sator Square? It's full of people around this time, all very keen on the war and cheering our brave lads... Why don't we go along and put it to them? You told me I ought to listen to the voice of the people. Odd thing, ain't it... you meet people one at a time, they seem decent, they got brains that work, and then they get together and you hear the voice of the people. And it snarls.'

'That's mob rule!'

'Oh, no, surely not,' said Vimes. 'Call it democratic justice.'

'One man, one rock,' Detritus volunteered. Jenkins looked like a man afraid the world was about to drop out of his bottom. He glared at Vimes and then at Carrot, and saw no help there. 'Of course, you'd have nothing to fear from us,' said Vimes. 'Although you might trip on your way down the stairs to the cells.'

'There's no stairs down to your cells!'

'Stairs can be arranged.'

'Please, Mr Jenkins,' said Carrot, the good cop. 'I wasn't... taking... the weapons to... KIatch,' Jenkins said slowly, as if he was reading the words very painfully off some interior script. 'I had... in fact... bought them to... donate them... to…'

'Yes? Yes?' said Vimes. '... our... brave lads,' said Jenkins. 'Well done!' said Carrot. 'And you'd be happy to... ?' Vimes prompted. 'And... I'd be happy to... lend my boat to the war effort,' said Jenkins, sweating. 'A true patriot,' said Vimes. Jenkins writhed. 'Who told you there was a false panel in the hold?' he demanded. 'It was a guess, right?'

'Right,' said Vimes. 'Aha! I knew you were only guessing!'

'Patriotic and clever,' said Vimes. 'Now... how do you make this thing go fast?' Lord Rust tapped his fingers on the table. 'What did he take the boat for?'

'Dunno, m'lord,' said Cumbling Michael, scratching his head. 'Damn! Did anyone else see them?'

'Oh, there weren't many people around, m'lord.'

'That's a small mercy, at least.'

'Just me and Foul Ole Ron and the Duck Man and Blind Hugh and Ringo Eyebrows and No Way Jose and Sidney Lopsides and that bastard Stoolie and Whistling Dick and a few others, m'lord.' Rust sank back in his chair and put a pale hand over his face. In Ankh– Morpork the night had a thousand eyes and so did the day, and it also had five hundred mouths and nine hundred and ninety–nine ears. 12 'The Klatchians must know, then,' he said. 'A detachment of Ankh– Morpork soldiery has taken ship for Klatch. An invasion force.'

'Oh, you could hardly call it–' Lieutenant Hornett began. 'The Klatchians will call it that. Besides, the trod Detritus is with them,' said Rust. Hornett looked glum. Detritus was an invasion force all by himself. 'What ships have we commandeered?' said Rust. 'There's more than twenty now, if you include the Indestructible, the Indolence and the . .' Lieutenant Hornett looked at his list again, and the Prid of Ankh–Morpork, sir.'

'The Prid?'

'I'm afraid so, sir.'

'We should be able to take more than a thousand men and two hundred horses, then.'

'Why not let Vimes go?' said Lord Selachii. 'Let the Klatchians deal with him, and good riddance.'

'And give them a victory over Ankh–Morpork forces? That's how they will see it. Damn the man. He forces our hand. But still, perhaps it is for the best. We should embark.'

'Are we entirely ready, sir?' said Lieutenant Hornett, with the special inflection that means 'We are not entirely ready, sir.'

'We had better be. Glory awaits, gentlemen. In the words of General Tacticus, let us take history by the scrotum. Of course, he was not a very honourable fighter.' 12 Sidney Lopsides again.

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White sunlight etched dark shadows in Prince Cadram's palace. He too had a map of Klatch, made of tiny coloured tiles set into the floor. He sat looking at it pensively. 'Just one boat?' he said. General Ashal, his chief adviser, nodded. And added: 'Our scryers can't get a very dear picture over that distance, but we do believe one of the men to be Vimes. You recall the name, sire.'

'Ah. the useful Commander Vimes.' The Prince smiled. 'Indeed. And since then there has been a lot of activity all along the docks. We have to take the view that the expeditionary force is setting out.'

'I thought we had at least a week, Ashal.'

'It is certainly puzzling. They cannot possibly be prepared, sire. Something must have happened.' Cadram sighed. 'Oh, well, let us follow where fate points the way. Where will they attack?'

'Gebra, sire. I'm sure of it.'

'Our most heavily fortified city? Surely not. Only an idiot would do that.'

'I have studied Lord Rust in some depth, sire. Remember that he doesn't expect us to fight, so the size of our forces really doesn't worry him.' The general smiled. It was a neat, thin little smile. 'And of course in attacking us he is piling infamy upon infamy. The other coastal states will take note.'

'A change of plan, then,' said Cadram. 'Ankh–Morpork can wait.'

'A wise move, sire. As always.'

'Any news of my poor brother?'

'Alas no, sire.'

'Our agents must search harder. The world is watching, Ashal.'

'Correct, sire.'

'Sarge?'

'Yes, Nobby?'

'Tell me again about our special qualities.'

'Shut up and keep pedalling, Nobby.'

'Right, sarge.' It was quite dark in the Boat. A candle swung from a bracket over Leonard of Quirm's bowed head as he sat steering with two levers. Around Nobby, pulleys rattled and little chains clicked. It was like being inside a sewing machine. A damp one, too. Condensation dropped off the ceiling in a steady stream. They had been pedalling for ten minutes. Leonard had spent most of the time talking excitedly. Nobby got the impression he didn't get out much. He talked about everything. There were the tanks of air, for example. Nobby was happy to accept that you could squeeze air up really

small, and that was what was in the groaning, creaking steel–bound casks strapped to the walls. It was what happened to the air afterwards that came as a surprise. 'Bubbles!' said Leonard. 'Dolphins again, you see? They don't swim through the water, they fly through a cloud of bubbles. Which is much easier, of course. I add a little soap, which seems to improve matters.'

'He thinks dolphins fly, sarge,' whispered Nobby. 'Just keep pedalling.' Sergeant Colon risked a glance behind him. Lord Vetinari was sitting on an upturned box amidst the clicking chains, with several of Leonard's sketches open on his knees. 'Carry on, sergeant,' said the Patrician. 'Right, sir.' The Boat was moving faster now they were away from the city. There was even a brackish light filtering through the little glass windows. 'Mr Leonard,' said Nobby. 'Yes?'

'Where're we going?'

'His lordship wishes to go to Leshp.'

'Yes, I thought it'd be something like that,' said Nobby. 'I thought: “Where don't I want to go?” And the answer just popped into my head, just like that. Only I don't think we'll get there, the reason bein', in about another five minutes my knees are going to fall off. ..'

'Oh, my word, you won't have to pedal all the way,' said Leonard. 'What did you think the big auger on the nose is for?'

'That?' said Nobby. 'I thought that was for drillin' into the bottom of enemy ships–'

'What?' Leonard spun around in his seat, a look of horror on his face. 'Sink ships? Sink ships? With people on them?'

'Well... yes...'

'Corporal Nobbs, I think you are a very misguided young... man,' said Leonard stiffly. 'Use the Boat to sink ships? That would be terrible! In any case, no sailor would dream of doing such a dishonourable thing!'

'Sorry.. 'The auger, I would have you know, is for attaching us to passing ships in the manner of the remora, the sucker–fish which attaches itself to sharks. A few turns is all that is necessary for a firm attachment.'

'So... you couldn't bore all the way through the hull, then?'

'Only if you were a very careless and extremely thoughtless young man!' The ocean waves may not be ploughable, but the crust of the river Ankh downstream from the city was known to sprout small bushes in the summertime. The Milka moved slowly, leaving a furrow behind it. 'Can't you go faster?' said Vimes.

'Why, certainly,' said Jenkins nastily. 'Where would you like us to put the extra mast?'

'The ship's just a dot,' said Carrot. 'Why aren't we gaining on them?'

'It's a bigger ship so it has got what we technically call more sails,' said Jenkins. 'And they're fast hulls on those Klatchian boats. And we've got a full hold–' He stopped, but it was too late. 'Captain Carrot?' said Vimes. ‘Sir?'

'Throw everything overboard,' said Vimes. 'Not the crossbows! They cost more than a hundred dollars ea–' Jenkins stopped. Vimes's expression said, very clearly, that there were a whole lot of things that could be thrown off the boat, and it would be a good idea not to be among them. 'Go and pull some ropes, Mr Jenkins,' he said. He watched the captain stamp off. A few moments later there was a splash. Vimes looked over the side and saw a crate bob for a moment and then sink. And he felt happy. Thief–taker, Rust had called him. The man had meant it as an insult, but it'd do. Theft was the only crime, whether the loot was gold, innocence, land or life. And for the thieftaker, there was the chase... There were several more splashes. Vimes fancied the ship surged forward. ... the chase. Because the chase was simpler than the capture. Once you'd caught someone it got complicated, but the chase was pure and free. Much better than prodding at clues and peering at notebooks. He flees, I chase. Simple. Vetinari's terrier, eh? 'Bingeley–bingeley beep!' said his pocket. 'Don't tell me,' said Vimes. 'It's something like “Five pee em, At Sea,” yes?'

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