At Least It is not Genua!

The foyer of the AM branch of the Green Slab office is just bustling with activity as reporters and editors rush in and out, slamming doors and occasionally slamming into each other. The whole atmosphere has a jumbled and chaotic feel. Office memos fly through the air and it is easy to see how the truth might get lost in the middle. A map hangs on one wall, another wall is covered with notices, another is filled with framed iconographs, and the fourth bears a huge representation of the Green Slab logo and a painting of the head office in Bes Pelargic. A few cheap metal chairs are lurking for visitors, and two doors lead off to other parts of the suite.
There are three obvious exits: east, west and south.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley is looking ever elegant.
A bulletin board [ 16 notes ] is mounted on one wall and The Green Slab box is in one corner.
Sammie closes the west door.

Sammie stumbles into the office, closes the door, and races pellmell into the editor’s office to the south. Finding it empty, she peeks out in a moment and glares at you. “Do you know where Miss Lockheart is?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks up from his pile of notes, some of them blood drenched, and smiles lightly. “Miss Lockhart? She left earlier, I fear.”

Sammie looks slightly sick and collapses into a chair near the door. She rubs her temples distractedly. “Uhm, that’s too bad. I’ll write her a note then.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks at the young lady curiously. “Goodness. She’s an editor for half a day and disasters already happen. Can I possibly be of assistance in her place?”

Sammie gazes at Sir Andrew d’Ackerley. “What? Don’t be ridiculous.” She looks a bit green for a second. “I think I might be sick soon”, she informs you helpfully.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks mildly worried. “Oh, my. There is a bucket under the desk.”

Sammie decides to risk trying for the bathroom in the basement. “Mrrgfl”, she says, and dives for the stairs.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks after her with mild concern. “Goodness.”

Sammie returns in twenty minutes, looking a little better, and slightly sorry for herself. “Well. Sorry about that, whoever you are. It’s been hellish.” She looks tortured for a moment. “Absolutely hellish.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Dear me. Please, do sit. Napkin? Andrew d’Ackerley at your service.

Sammie perches on one of the little metal chairs intended for visitors, and tiredly takes her blazer off. “Are you a reporter too? Do you know where she lives? Asha, I mean. She’s the owner, and I really need to talk to her.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says with a Morporkian accent: Miss Lockhart has not owned this establishment in years, dear. That said, I believe that she comes by daily.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: A year, anyhow. I think there was some mixup.

Sammie gasps, all her tiredness vanishing. She rises from her chair like an angry cockatoo, her high fluffy ponytail aiding this resemblance magnificently. “Well! Isn’t that just the limit, I am the last to hear all about it, and I was the one risking my life with those crazy Genuans!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks politely flustered. “Goodness. I am — sorry? Tea?”

Sammie looks briefly mollified. “Six sugars please.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley pours out a cup of sugar and adds a bit of tea. “My. Rough day?”

Sammie takes the cup from you before you can offer it. “Rough year.” She dives into it.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks with a Morporkian accent: And you will, still, ah, be working here, I take it?

Sammie emerges from the cup. “What do YOU think?” She sits down again, and presses a hand to her forehead, very much like the subject of ‘Lady faints’, art by Gendert Stuysbak (to be found in the Royal Art Museum). “You have no idea what I’ve been through. Dear lord. Dear LORD. I was a gossip columnist.” She sits up, and looks imploringly at you. “A harmless little gossip columnist. That’s what I was.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Ah. Yes. Right. I remember being a gossip columnist. Terribly frightening at times. Yes.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley pours himself a cup of tea as well. Normal amount of sugar.

Sammie waves this aside. “No, no, no, no, NO. I was GOOD at it. I was excellent. I. was. the. BEST.” She downs her tea and gives her cup to you, indicating you should pour again. “But then, this story came along. Undercover. Join the Mano Rossa. Why not Sammie?” She laughs to herself, slightly manically. “YES. Why not Sammie? Why? WHY? Just because I’m – Genuan? Oh god. I couldn’t bear it, you know. The first time. I came running here. HERE. To the land of the free. The home of the – the – Morpork.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley pours obediently. Somebody has him well trained.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Ah, the Mano Rossa. Terribly crude people, I am told.

Sammie takes her cup back from you, and sniffles into it. “I did it. For the love of the Slab. For the love of – of – this paper.” She looks up at you. “You have no idea. No idea. Thugs. Ruffians. RUFFIANS.”

Sammie whispers tragically to you that they use HAIR OIL.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley touches his hair with two fingers, then look at his two fingers, horrified. “Goodness. How… uncivilized.”

Sammie finishes her cup of tea and attacks a chocolate biscuit with enthusiasm. “I couldn’t sleep in my bed at night, for fear of – fear. Yes. I was afraid of being afraid. And – and – all the things I was finding out.”

Sammie says: Which obviously I can’t tell you anything about.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely asks with a Morporkian accent: I take it, ah, horses’ heads and garlic?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: One hears a lot about those and Genuans.

Sammie shudders. “Worse, worse, worse, so much worse.”

Sammie says: And all this time Asha has been GONE? I shall sit on her when she gets back.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley takes off his monocle and polishes it carefully before murmuring, “Goodness, me, she’d likely enjoy that. Ahem.”

Sammie raises an eyebrow and then colours. “Uh, anyway. I was editor here, you know. I was important.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly asks with a Morporkian accent: I do believe that we are all important – in some fashion — are we not? More tea?

Sammie asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Got anything stronger?

Sammie assures you solemnly that some people are _more_ important than others.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley raises his eyebrows and rummages in the drinks cabinet. “Brandy? I think this bottle has been sitting since my last tenure, ahem.”

Sammie eyes it. “I’ll take it.” She holds up a hand. “I don’t need a glass.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley wordlessly holds out the bottle for her to take.

Sammie cuddles the bottle and sips from it and tells you the most amazing story of escape, of carriages changed, of pursuers lost, and of roads well and truly left for dust. “And I came shtraight here”, she finishes, sounding a bit worse for wear.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says with a Morporkian accent: Goodness, once again. And here I am, worried that my lady wife will be upset that I might be late for dinner. You must lead a very extraordinary life, Miss…”

Sammie assumes the posture of the subject of ‘Lady faints’ again. “Shammie. Shammie Shmitten. How do you do? Quite well thank you. Oh yesh yesh oh yesh.” She passes out.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley repeats pointlessly, “Andrew d’Ackerley. I remember that name. You write about Doctor Montague.”

About Andrew d'Ackerley

Earl of Briarwyld, Skund; Knight of Ankh-Morpork; Doctor of Languages at the Assassins’ Guild; Master of Dance and Deportment at the Assassins’ Guild; Senior Lecturer in Languages at the Assassins’ Guild, House Master of Cobra House, the Assassins’ Guild.
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