Summary: Wherein which the Guildmaster of the Guild of Pirates and Smugglers fills out forms and has an unexpected visitor, and Vimes is up to his neck in a project the likes of which the Disc has never seen.
Disclaimer: Disney or Terry Pratchett owns most of these characters and the setting in which they live.
Notes: catslash is entirely responsible for getting me to write a crossover between Pirates of the Caribbean and Discworld. This chapter has far more Discworld than PotC, but it's more by way of establishing the setting and situation than being the actual story.
Laws of Probability
Most of the citizens of Ankh-Morpork weren't even aware that pirates had a guild; most of those who were assumed that it was just some nautical offshoot of the Thieves' Guild.
At least two people who knew of the Guild of Pirates and Smugglers knew that this was in no way the case, and one of them was the Guildmaster╣. And Guildmaster Kel Purslane (alias Black Griggs) only knew because he'd just spent four hours filling out forms to register his guild.
In the old days, a man could form a guild just by printing up a bunch of fancy licenses and handing them out. The Glory Days of Guilds in Ankh-Morpork had spawned such venerable institutions as the Guild of Apple-Pie Filchers, the Cripples' Guild (later subsidized by the Beggars' Guild), the Guild of Patrician Impersonators, and the Guild for the Defamation of All These Bloody Guilds. But then it had been pointed out rather reasonably that proper Guilds paid Guild Taxes to the Patrician, and lists of institutes currently disbanded for tax fraud were posted throughout the city. Somewhere on this list was the Guild of Pirates and Smugglers.
One alternative had been presented to permanent disbandment--registration with the bloody tax collectors.
The papers had asked plenty of pertinent questions, and Kel suspected they'd been tailored for guilds just like his. What kind of questions were, "What percente of you Guilde's fundâ are legallie gainede?" and "How doeâ your Guilde acquire fundâ?"
But Kel Purslane had the measure of the taxmen▓. And so it was with great care that stupid, unwashed, unshaven Cap'n Griggs called the junior assistant over to read each question and made a great deal of mulling it all over before carving a firm X in every blank.
Well, every blank but the first one.
"Does he think he can play silly buggers with me?" muttered His Grace, Sir Samuel Vimes, as he chewed the end of a cigar. "Filling in the guild name in pretty script and then engraving the bloody table with his Xs?"
"Hard to say, sir," Carrot replied. "But Klatch has had some very stern things to say over the clacks. They don't appreciate the pirates very much."
"No, I imagine they don't." Sibyll had bought him three boxes for the purpose of filing his papers neatly, and with a conscientious look at the clearly labeled boxes, Vimes threw the forms over his shoulder. "I imagine the Counterweight Continent isn't terribly appreciative, either. How's the project coming?"
Carrot's mouth twisted in that disapproving way that meant he'd written all of the details of the project on a memo that Vimes should have read by now. "The boat here fell on its side when we dropped it on the crust of the Ankh, but Detritus organized the recruits to right it before it broke through."
Organizing the recruits was something that Detritus did very well. This consisted of grabbing four or five young men and shouting at them until they quivered, then instructing them to "get de others and follow dis troll or he gets mad!"
"And what about the boat in Klatch?" demanded Vimes. Damned if he was going to accept that this project would fail on account of the bloody Ankh.
Once again, the captain looked hurt. "I put the memo in the 'Unread' box."
Vimes gave the "Unread" box a guilty look. "Just give me the facts."
"The boat is built," Carrot began--but, Vimes thought, "but--" ah "they can't find anyone to crew it. Klatch has sort of a . . . a tradition of piracy, and in respect to their folkways the Klatchian sailors don't feel honorable about crewing a boat meant to capture pirates."
"They're afraid the head Klatchian is going to send them out hunting themselves, is that it?"
If it had been any man but Carrot, he would have made some effort at extemporizing. But Captain Carrot had had prolonged exposure to Vimes, and while once he would have rattled off the seven different variants on the concept of piracy as practiced by the Klatchians in order from most to least legal, he now held his silence and moved on to the next memo that Vimes should have gotten just this morning.
"A Morporkian pirate left a Klatchian navigator at the ambassador's residence last night."
"In how many pieces?"
"One--and still living. I've put Corporal Ping on the investigation."
A message came down the tube; Vimes examined it, then handed it to Carrot, who read it and saluted. "Duty calls, sir." He left quickly to deal with the situation that was developing in Elm Street.
"Duty," grumbled Vimes, "never stops shouting."
Office management was reconciling badly with Sam Vimes. If he had his way he would be following Carrot to Elm Street to personally confront the nutters who'd barricaded themselves in a house before realizing that it was on the Shades side of the street. But he couldn't just run off and do that--oh, no, the Duke needn't concern himself with petty things like that. The Duke had to oversee the bloody project, and that left no time for all of the real police work.
But he was pretty damn proud of the project.
When the Pirates' Guild had been started, the Patrician had done some direct implying that this was an opportunity for Vimes to both exercise his ducal duties in foreign relations and police in a way that had never been tried before. To join law enforcement from all the countries to stop a threat to political relations, life, and most importantly, trade.
This project was to police the Circle Sea.
At first, Jack Sparrow had harbored the hope that Ankh-Morpork was within hailing distance of familiar territory. But only one day in the city had proved him wrong, as he'd had his purse cut; his face slapped; his presence investigated by a fat, red-faced officer who could've been Lieutenant Gillette's da; and his palate washed with plenty of bad ale.
Ankh-Morpork wasn't close to familiar territory; it was familiar territory.
True enough, he'd never been there before, but your average large city has several constants, and one of them was a criminal underbelly like a festering whale's│.
In a place like this, where he watched a pair of raggedy urchins scamper straight across the river with barely a splash and a man snatch a purse and hand over a receipt . . . in a place like this, he could get to feel very at home.
He found the guild office of the Pirates' Guild without much trouble, but paused just short of rapping at the door. Captain Jack Sparrow hadn't yet met a pirate who didn't think in twisty ways, and the sleek white house with the sign reading "Guilde of Pirats and Smuggglers" . . . well, it didn't seem anything so much as straightforward.
Jack smiled to himself and staggered around the side.
"Help a good man through, love?"
Black Griggs looked up from his ledgers and logs at the man who was currently stuck in his office window. He was a wild, shabby creature with a hat askew on his knotty hair and a bit of black paint smudged 'round his eyes, and he indicated the window as though this were a perfectly natural but a mite awkward place for him to be.
And Black Griggs smiled. "Here for a membership, then?"
* * * * * *
1. The other was, of course, the Patrician.
2. After all, he'd been one himself before he'd decided to pursue a more honorable calling.
3. In that it was smelly, decaying, fermenting, and bloated beyond what was natural.
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