DEN OF INIQUITY: A DRAGON’S DEN SPECIAL Pt2

For quite some time, the four stared in the direction of the stairs, probably wondering why security weren’t charging in to rescue them from this madman. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that would have been one of the first adjustments Dexter made to arrangements when he arrived on site this morning. He allowed them a few more moments to realise they were very much on their own. A couple of them started awkwardly loosening their collars. One reached for his glass of water.

“Um,” said the bald one at last. “Hello. I’m – ”

“Theo P, yes. You live at 53 Affluent Way, Balding, Berks, with Mrs P and the three children, two dogs and a parakeet although you still wonder why on earth you bought the thing and have to contend on a daily basis with the kids’ reluctance to take turns at feeding it.”

“Um, yes, quite. Well, listen, setting aside your dubious methods and the, ah, few attitude problems which Duncan highlighted for us, I have to say I admire your ingenuity. You’re smart and well-presented and you have a lot going for you. But if I’m going to part with my kids’ inheritance -”

Dexter sighed. “I just knew that was going to come up. Can I just say right now if you mention it again, they’ll inherit sooner than they expect.”

Theo swallowed. “Um, right. Well, okay, if we must run with this scenario… I can’t help feeling that drug-dealing is a bit ordinary. Isn’t everyone out there doing that? What’s your USP?”

“Ah,” said Dexter. “Now that’s a fair question, Theo, and I’m glad you asked. As I said, these are no ordinary drugs. They are of the highest grade. And of course it’s our intention to cut these drugs to greatly enhance distribution and inflate profit margins. But by a curious quirk of chemistry when you combine this stuff with a specific blend of talcum powder and icing sugar its narcotic properties increase dramatically, making it more addictive as well as profitable. In this way we can actually outstrip the market for the original drug etc. etc. Well I don’t need to tell you, you’re smart businessmen.”

“And a woman,” pointed out a slightly needled Debra.

“I suppose,” conceded Dexter.

“You really are a vile, insidious individual,” she told him.

“Thank you. Does that mean you’re out?” Dexter set his thumb hovering over the remote.

“No, I didn’t say that. I’m – thinking about it.” She went to work on a few sums in her notepad. That or a spot of intense doodling.

“Look,” said Theo, hands raised in placatory manner, “I like you, I do. There’s a lot to admire. And I’d love to invest in you. But – and I’m taking great care not to mention their inheritance – I beg you to think of the kids. What would they think of their dear old dad if he got mixed up in drugs and all sorts of other criminal activities? Think of Mrs P. She’d never forgive me. So, um, for that reason – ” He glanced either side of him, searching for support. Somehow he couldn’t quite find the words.

“You’re out?” Dexter helped him along.

Theo winced. And gave a pained nod.

“That’s fine, Theo. I didn’t rig your chair.” The man sagged and tugged at his collar, apparently suffering under the heat of the studio lights. Dexter smiled. “However, I have high hopes that you will reconsider. Ah, is it all right if I bring in a colleague?”

James gestured his approval. Peter shrugged, as though just grateful to be moving away from the interview’s many irregularities towards normality. Dexter took a few steps towards the head of the stairs and called down. “Mr Knucks, if you would kindly step up here.”

“Righto, boss!”

Mr Knucks was a short while ascending the stairs as the item he was carrying would insist on struggling. A rather futile effort against the strength of Mr Knucks’ cybernetic arms, but most hostages, in Dexter’s experience, showed a bit of spirit. This exhibit had been rather hastily packaged in advance of the presentation, with a sack over her head and plenty of gags. She was a slight little thing and was borne with ease in a fireman’s lift. (Knucks, if given the opportunity, would inform the Dragons that he had once been a fireman, but had been drummed out of the service after his unit responded to a few too many fires in banks. Nothing was ever proven, mind you, since all the evidence was consumed in an arson attack on the fire station.)

“Mmmm rrrrr mmm!” said the hostage. And she kicked and thrashed a bit more over Mr Knucks’ shoulder.

“Gentlemen and – lady,” said Dexter, “allow me to introduce my colleague, Mr Knucks, and the not-all-that-elusive-as-it-turns out Mrs P.”

“What?!” Now Theo was sitting up. As were all the remaining Dragons. “This is outrageous!”

“You’ll never get away with this!” declared a furious Peter, with a superior scowl. If anything now he was even more aloof and ready to hand down his judgment from on high.

“Oh, you know what,” said Dexter. He tapped the remote. And Peter was duly dumped through his trap door. “You’re out.”

“Everyone stay calm,” urged James a touch nervously. “I’m sure we can talk this through and there’s no need for anyone – anyone else – to get hurt. In fact,” he added, “let me tell you where I am. I’m in. I’m very much in. I’d love to invest in you. So I would like to offer the full amount – two hundred and fifty thousand credits for five percent of your company. Tell you what, let’s call it two-point-five percent. Heck, no, let’s round that down and call it two.”

Dexter flexed an eyebrow. “It’s an interesting offer. Anyone else care to top that?”

“Look we’ll all match that, all right?” pleaded Debra. “Two hundred and fifty thousand for two percent. That’ll be seven hundred and fifty thousand. Triple what you came in for.”

“For two percent,” clarified Theo. “We’ll split the two percent between us. And we’ll take a very hands-off approach. You won’t hear a squeak out of us as business partners.”

“Business partners?” Dexter traded glances with Knucks. He cracked a grin. “Who said anything about business partners? Five percent of my company. Today, I said. Two percent now. That’s just a little short of half an hour.” He checked his watch. “You’ve already had sixteen minutes. So we have twelve minutes and a veritable plethora of seconds to play with, so if any of you would care to join me downstairs for a quick cocktail, you’re very welcome.”

The three Dragons stared, non-plussed. If they had any objections, they appeared unable to voice them.

“What? Nobody?” Dexter feigned disappointment, keeping his feigning entirely transparent.

“Boss,” hissed Knucks and he tugged at Dexter’s sleeve.

“Hmm?”

Knucks jerked his head to one side.

“Ah.” Dexter turned to address the Dragons. “Would it be all right if my colleague and I stepped to the back of the room to confer?”

“Take all the time you need,” allowed Theo. “But please, leave Mrs P.”

“Not just yet, chum,” said Knucks and he winked, before carting Mrs P off to the back. Dexter walked with him and conferred quietly, not the least bit put off by having an eavesdropper leaning over his colleague’s shoulder. The fact that she had her head in a sack, coupled with the fact that she was a nobody, enabled him to pretend she wasn’t there.

Dexter continued to nod and cast glances at the Dragons for some time after he’d finished listening to Mr Knucks’ suggestion, making them sweat some more. He liked it. He liked it a lot. He only didn’t like that he hadn’t thought of it himself, but that minor irk would be more than outweighed by the satisfaction he was about to feel.

He spread it all over his face as he turned and approached the Dragons once more.

“Well now,” he announced, “my colleague has very sensibly pointed out that our Triphetaminion suppliers wouldn’t know a fake credit if it was right under their noses or if they wiped their butts with one. Which, if you know the Triphetaminions at all, are as close to being the same thing as makes no difference.” Knucks walked up past Dexter, while Dexter continued, “By the time they’ve figured they’ve been had, we will be long gone.”

Knucks dumped Mrs P at Theo’s feet. “So if you don’t mind…” he said. And he went along the row scooping up the stacks of pretend cash from every table. “We’ll take your Monopoly money and be off. Oh and boss, we’re a bit short on time – I’m parked on a double.”

“Thank you, Mr Knucks.” Dexter inspected his watch and tutted. “Dear oh dear. We must cut our cocktail time short. If it’s any consolation, my socialising with you would have been at least as fake as the money we’re stealing from you.”

Knucks had stuffed his jacket full with the wads of fake cash. “Ready to go, boss?”

“One moment.” Dexter raised a finger. He favoured the Dragons with a tissue-paper smile, single-ply. “I don’t like any of you. We have what we came for. We have a drug deal to conclude and, apparently, we’re illegally parked. So for those reasons,” he concluded, gesturing at himself and the waiting Mr Knucks, “we are out.”

And they were.

 

 

SAF 2009

DEN OF INIQUITY: A DRAGON’S DEN SPECIAL

Dexter Snide swept masterfully up the stairs and into the selectively lit faux warehouse loft. Taking centre stage he faced the five individuals arrayed before him in their expensive suits and eclectic range of chairs. Their pens and notebooks were poised and their noses were tipped at angles they clearly deemed perfect for looking down.

Their patronising smiles would normally have been enough to get them shot, but Dexter was here on business. “Hello,” he said with charm as fake as the abandoned warehouse aesthetic but, he fancied, rather more convincing. “I’m Dexter. I’m the principal founding member of Evil UnLtd and I’m here for two hundred and fifty thousand Imperial credits in return for, shall we say, five percent of my company. Today. Any questions?”

The executive quintet looked at each other, a little dumbfounded. One had jotted down something – perhaps a name and a figure – but none of the other pens had moved. Dexter allowed the silence to stretch like an unrepentant heretic on a rack until one of the five could no longer stand it.

“Um, hello,” said the one on the right who evidently prided himself on being snootier than all the others combined. “I’m Peter.”

“I know who you are,” Dexter confirmed with beautifully measured menace.

“Right. Well, naturally you do,” answered Peter, somehow completely failing to pick up on the threat. For such a lofty personality it was surprising how much went whooshing by over the man’s head. “But really, you’re going to have to give us more than that.”

Dexter chose to toy with the idiot. “Oh, we’re at the negotiating stage already?” Innocence was a quality he could do at least as well as charm.

“No.” All five were shaking their heads now, in sheer disbelief at the latest lamb to have walked into their den. Peter pressed on with forced patience: “You have to tell us more. Maybe start with something about yourself, about your background.”

“Well, let me see. I was educated at the Cringemyre Educatory Reform Habitoid for Wayward Boys. A rather Dickensian institution orbiting a gas giant in the Ikon system.” Dexter checked his watch. “Must I list all my qualifications? They’re rather extensive and liable to make you feel small.”

Peter smarted like he’d been slapped in the face. It was such a satisfying effect, Dexter was almost tempted to go ahead and list his qualifications for the hell of it.

“Hi,” said another of the five, attempting some diplomatic intervention. The fellow spoke gently and smiled kindly, the way some people did with lunatics or old folks who were a bit slow. “I’m James.”

“Yes.”

“Why don’t you tell us more about your business? What is it you do?”

“Evil Unlimited,” said Dexter with a shrug. “I would have thought it spoke for itself.”

“Yes,” said James slowly, like a man determined to prove he was blessed with infinite patience. “It’s a catchy name, I like it, but what is it you’re selling, what are you about?”

Dexter’s smile could only have been measured with a micrometer. “Evil UnLtd is a syndicate comprised of seven members. We have floated Evil as a commodity on the intergalactic stockmarket and now our business is to ensure that Evil always shows a consistent profit.”

“So,” James prompted, his patience rapidly shrinking towards incredibly finite, “would you mind telling us just how you propose to ensure that profit for – what was it? – Evil?”

“No, James, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest. We do that through a great many diverse schemes and activities, including but not limited to audacious robberies, hijacks, disruption and destruction on a massive scale and generally seeing to the downfall and oppression of the universe as a whole. Obviously I’m not at liberty to discuss specific plans. But I suppose you’ll insist on knowing what your two hundred and fifty thousand will be paying for so I can tell you that much. Quite simply, it’s drugs. Not just any drugs. We’re talking the highest grade product from the Narcomines of Triphetamine Delta. We would steal it, but frankly the atmosphere is toxic and corrosive to all known life support technology and it’s just basically less of a pain in the neck to go down this route.”

Stunned silence again. It lay back on the rack, ready for more torture.

“Um,” said the woman. They all liked to start that way apparently. “I’m Debra.”

“Yes.” This was getting tiresome. Stealing the drugs was beginning to look the more attractive option.

She narrowed her eyes. It wasn’t a good look for her: she already had more lines on her face than Dexter had ever had to write in his school career. “Some of those sound suspiciously like criminal activities,” she said.

“Yes. And your point is?”

“Right,” broke in another of the men, a guy who had sat chewing on his pen and stewing quietly for some time now. “Listen, pal. I’m Duncan and I’ve had quite enough of your attitude. Let me tell you where I am, okay?” Dexter gave him a nod. “I’m no going tae involve maself in anything criminal. So for that reason I’m no going tae invest. I’m out.”

“You do realise that’s three ways of saying the same thing when a simple ‘No’ would have sufficed?” Dexter slipped a hand in his coat pocket and produced a slender remote control. “Marvellous, I knew we’d have at least one early naysayer and actually I’m glad it was you.”

He thumbed the switch and a still-glowering Duncan dropped, chair, pen and notebook and all, through the trapdoor that opened in the floor beneath him. It snapped shut behind him, leaving only the polished boards and the small coffee table stacked with pretend cash.

“I came early,” Dexter explained to the remaining mortified foursome. “I knew you people would appreciate promptness. I’m afraid I didn’t get to all the seats, but just to make the rest of the presentation more entertaining, I’m not going to tell you which of the others are rigged. Now, shall we proceed..?”

 

To Be Continued…

Interview With A Hero

Cover guy ROLPH STENGUN speaks EXCLUSIVELY to EVIL MAGAZINE on his glamorous movie star lifestyle, his career switch to real life action hero and what it’s like being an arch nemesis to Dexter Snide and the rest of the EVIL UNLTD (TM) gang.

Heroes need villains, to test their courage, and to throw down challenge after challenge in their path that they can overcome and emerge triumphant at the end of their ordeal. Villains, on the other hand, need heroes like a hole in the head. But where there are villains there will surely be heroes, and one such hole in the head is Rolph Stengun.

Dubbed the Muscles from Nova Stockholm by the media and often referred to as ‘you bastard’ by the likes of Dexter Snide, Stengun who is unfeasibly large and blond has also been described as a stereotypical Swede. Although Snide has been quick to point out that nobody has ever clarified as to whether they mean the nationality or the vegetable.

This might be considered unflattering by some, but Stengun takes it all in his stride, which is considerable, and any that’s left over he takes on the chin, which is also formidable. He could also if required take it in the pecs, the abs or indeed on any other part of his body which is, well, you get the picture. He carries himself as a man who’s more than simply comfortable with his body image – he’s proud of it and prepared to show it off at every opportunity. Something this reporter wishes he had been warned about prior to conducting the interview.

It’s Stengun who fires the first salvo in our conversation.

RS: Am I making you nervous? Ha ha! I have that effect on a lot of people. You would prefer I just go topless?

EM: If you don’t mind.

He obligingly slips on some speedos. For some reason I can’t help thinking of the Battle of the Bulge and wishing I was a war correspondent.

RS: Okay. I didn’t realise this was going to be so formal. So. Shoot. (Makes a pistol out of his hand.) Ha. Not really. Ask your questions.

EM: Right, so, what’s it like being an archnemesis?

RS: Is that what I am?

EM: To the villains, yes.

RS: Wait. I was told this interview was about me.

He looks at me like he’s deciding whether to call his agent or pull an automatic.

EM: It is, it’s just – well, let me put it this way, you’re a hero. An action hero. And obviously that makes you a nemesis to villains. Which is a good thing. So all I’m asking really is, well, what’s that like?

RS: It’s okay. It’s what I do.

I feel like I’m not quite getting through.

EM: Well, isn’t it exciting? A thrill? I mean, the constant danger, the –

RS: There is no danger. (points at his chest) I am the constant danger. Other heroes, they may get scared. They might wet their pants. But look at mine, do you see any damp patches? Do you?

It is beyond my humble writing abilities to convey my discomfort at this juncture.

EM: Um, uh, the thing is, that’s not what I –

RS: Other heroes these days, they are all kitty cats.

EM: Excuse me?

RS: Kitties. Cats. You know.

Realisation dawns.

EM: Oh. You mean pussies?

RS: I am allowed to say that in this publication? Okay. But anyway, they are soft and weak. Too many see violence as a last resort.

EM: And you don’t?

RS: Make violence your first resort, what other resorts do you need?

EM: You don’t believe in compassion then?

RS: Unless it is a make of very large gun? No, I didn’t think so. If more heroes were prepared to use violence there would be less villains. It is simple maths.

At this point I am tempted to put Stengun’s mathematical ability to the test, but I look down and notice ‘maths’ is on the list of proscribed topics for the interview. Quite near the top.

EM: But surely you agree, a hero needs some measure of compassion as part of his or her motivation? In order to care about the people he or she saves?

RS: First of all, Mr Clever Clogs, a hero is a man. There is no he and she with heroes. The female is a heroine and her job is different. Second of all, the only motivation a hero needs is to know what is right and wrong and which one to wipe out. Villains are scum – like that scum you get around the toilet bowl, okay?

EM: Er, limescale?

RS: Right. Limescale. And nobody wants that.

EM: So you see yourself as a, er, toilet cleaner

RS: Yes. But not one of those weak-butt products that make all these claims but do not shift a thing. No. I am more like one of those really powerful detergents. Like that one with the bird neck.

EM: Toilet duck?

RS: Yes. The duck. That gets under the rim. I am very thorough. I kill a hundred percent of all known germs.

EM: Fair enough. Since we’re on the subject of cleaning products, what do you say to those who have suggested you are ‘a bit OCD?’

RS: (Laughs) Well, I am an optically recognisable character, so yes, I guess they can say that.

EM: (Laughs politely) Um, yes, it actually refers to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

At this point Mr Stengun frowns. This goes on for some time.

RS: They say I am ‘a bit Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’? That does not make any sense. These people have grammatical problems. But listen, I tell you what, between you and me, I am obsessive and compulsive – but about order, not disorder. You know, doing all my own stunts in the movies taught me a lot about health and safety. And long after the production crew had gone home I would be busy cleaning up after the filming. Sugar glass everywhere and they use petroleum in a lot of those explosions. It can get very messy.

EM: Yes, I gather you earned yourself quite a reputation on set. There were rumours that it had something to do with your decision to quit, uh, acting and apply the skills you’d learned to heroic deeds in the real universe.

RS: What? Who told you that? No. That was a decision I came to myself over the course of many years.

EM: Goodness, it sounds like you really struggled with the pros and cons

RS: Not really. Decisions just take that kind of time.

I smile.

EM: And now you just struggle with the cons.

RS: No. What have I said? Some of the villains put up a fight but the struggle is always over very quickly.

EM: Forgive me for saying so, but you make the life of an action hero sound very, well, dull.

RS: No, there is a lot of job satisfaction. And the firepower is great.

For a moment he smiles like he’s imagining guns had breasts. Then I realise that this man would probably dispense with the breasts in favour of a couple of extra mags of HEAP rounds. He returns from this momentary dream-like state to become suddenly uber-serious.

RS: But I am responsible. I do not want to lead young people into a dangerous profession.

EM: But you said there was no danger.

RS: To me. Young people would be pussies. What? Don’t look at me like that. You said I could say that. Pussies.

EM: Yes, I only wonder if you’re being a little unfair. I mean, some youngsters might have what it takes, mightn’t they? So what would you say to those who did perhaps fancy a career as an action hero?

RS: Maybe if they tried out a few violent video games first. See how they go.

There is a pause as I wonder how on earth to wind up this interview.

EM: Right, so, maybe we can go back to my original question. Can you give us some idea of what it’s it like being an archnemesis?

There is another pause as he gives the matter much thought.

RS: Well, I suppose it is like being an ordinary nemesis but you bend over backwards to defeat the villains.

I am struck with the impression that perhaps this man is smarter than he appears on the surface. I decide to compliment him on his good humour.

EM: That’s not bad.

RS: What is?

EM: Your joke. You made a good joke.

RS: I did?

Rolph Stengun. QED.

 


SAF 2009

Lonely Planet Guide To Goyle – Part 6

Places To Stay

Bottom End

Camping, really, is your best bet. It’s cheaper and you can keep on the move. And if you take sufficient supplies and clothing with you, tightly packed, your backpack should provide some ablative armour should a Goyle decide to shoot you in the back. Heck, why not wear an extra backpack in the front, in case you don’t get the opportunity to turn and run before one of the locals pulls a gun and opens fire. This will have the added benefit of practically doubling your supplies.

Middle

The Potemkin. This grand old battleship operates as a hotel and exists in several versions of the capital and has many names – this is just the one we’ve chosen to give it for the sake of convenience. It has all the amenities and comforts of a pre-revolution Russian battleship and given the level of service and working conditions, mutiny among the guests or staff is not an impossibility during your stay. Although technically still (just about) spaceworthy, it is anchored in one of the more scenic canals in the city so you are assured of a great view when you are obliged to jump overboard and swim for your life. Should you enjoy a trouble-free stay, be aware of any motion while on board – this could be an early indication that the old girl has been brought out of mothballs and pressed back into frontline service. If found to be still on board at the time, you might also find yourself pressed into frontline service.

Top End

It is not unknown for certain types of Goyle to take visitors captive and keep them as pets or slaves. Embergoyles, for instance, who have a skin surface like the end of a lit cigarette, are known to treat their pets extremely well. Accommodations are especially good and you have only to take care when they stub their toes on you as it will definitely hurt you more than it does them. It’s also important to be aware that this living arrangement is deemed permanent by the Embergoyle owners and can pose extra challenges when it comes to Getting Away.

SAF 2009

Lonely Planet Guide To Goyle – Part 5

FACTS FOR THE VISITOR (Continued)

Getting There & Away


These two issues can best be covered by the phrases ‘You must be mad’ and ‘You’ll be lucky’ respectively. However, if you are determined to go ahead with your rash plans to visit the Goyle homeworld, then there are ways and means to achieve your goal. Even – and for advice on survival while there see Tourist Information – making it a two-way trip.

The only ships to land on Goyle are military vessels and unless you have some special arrangement with the Goylish military of any nation you will have to make alternative arrangements should you wish to make planetfall, rather than merely view the world from a safe distance.

An orbital parachute drop from a passing vessel is your best bet. However, most commercial liners will not permit this practice owing to insurance concerns and stringent health and safety policies. Since the smoking ban on all commercial flights, it’s not even possible to claim you are going to the airlock for a cigarette. No, for this you will need to go with a less reputable operator, but to be fair those are by far the most common type with routes through Goylish space. Even some of these will shy from open flouting of health and safety regulations, so you may have to make a sufficient nuisance of yourself on board to get yourself thrown out of the airlock – or ‘spaced’ as it is officially termed. Just make sure you have your grav-assist parachute packed and timing is of course critical. A number of passengers have been known to miss the planet altogether and end up sling-shotting around on a trajectory into open space, drifting forever long after their air supply has run out. Or slap bang into the viewport of a Goylish War Pinnace and we have no need to tell you which is worst.

If you can find a respectable liner travelling that route – possibly as an economy measure – then you can in theory adopt the same approach and at least travel in comfort prior to being spaced. The crews are sticklers for rules though and their customer service training means they will take a lot more pissing off before they will resort to such extremes.

So we come to the matter of Getting Away. As already mentioned, the only shipping making surface landings and departures are Goylish military vessels. So unless you have some means of personal teleportation or anti-gravity boots to spring yourself into orbit – or some other means of achieving escape velocity (which, just in case you have, is 15 m/s/s) you will need to secure a place on one of these craft. This might involve bribing a Goylish officer (although see Money), covert infiltration of a Goylish base and stowing away. Or, of course, enlistment in the Goylish military as an ‘irregular’. Good luck.

Lonely Planet Guide To Goyle – Part 4

FACTS FOR THE VISITOR

Visas

There are no official visa requirements as such but there is some benefit to be had from going and getting your passport stamped by an officer of the Goylish military. But only if you keep it in your jacket pocket at the time, in which case he will be delighted to stamp on it repeatedly. He will then issue you with a certificate testifying to the fact that you are a species willing to be crushed underfoot without offering the slightest resistance. Which, let’s face it, won’t be far from the truth. You can then show this to Goyles on your visit and they will probably allow you to go on your way unmolested, although some may wish to test the document’s veracity with their own boots.

Customs

Pretty much anything that might be of use or value to a Goyle is contraband and subject to confiscation by whichever Goylish ‘official’ stops you first. The best advice is to travel light where possible, to disguise your possessions in some way as to make them look worthless or undesirable and never wear too innocent a smile when encountering Goylish ‘officials’. The last thing you want to arouse is their suspicion. Actually that’s the second to last thing you want to arouse, but the subject of Goylish females lies outside the remit of this volume.

Money

Money is a tricky issue on Goyle, in part because each Goylish nation or reality has its own official unit of currency, all of them called the sharn. The coins themselves, no matter what the denomination, come in all shapes and sizes but are invariably furnished with viciously spiked edges and resemble shuriken, or Japanese throwing stars. This can render a simple game of coin-tossing lethal, but many Goyles do enjoy calling whether it will embed itself in the head, tail or some other part of the target.

Given that no Goylish nation recognises another, no distinction is made between different types of sharn – there’s no reference to Visigoylish sharn, no Ostrogoylish sharn and so on, just sharn – but the exchange rate between nations can be furious and deadly if no other weapons are to hand. The exchange rate for visitors is another matter and usually amounts to roughly one sharn to all the cash and valuables you have on you, although it does depend on how good a shot the Goyle is. And sometimes he will recover his sharn too.

Really though if you are set on visiting Goyle, you are well advised to convert all your currency into Travellers’ Cheques ahead of your trip. And advertise the fact prominently, whether by wearing them about your person in clear plastic pockets or by use of a slogan on your T-shirt, front and back. Travellers’ Cheques are for the most part entirely useless to Goyles and will make you a lot safer, allowing you to move about largely free from the threat of mugging.

However, their uselessness does present other difficulties in the area of spending and making purchases. Your challenge there lies in convincing the vendor that the Cheques can eventually be put to good use as cash – traded in – off-world. The only ships off-world are military vessels (see Getting There & Away) and the same applies for locals. So, since any Goyle you meet in the retail sector or service industry will be ex-military, retired, this will involve them having to re-enlist. Many will not be averse to the notion of another tour of duty, but often the military is less keen to have its cast-offs returned, unless in times of heavy conflict when extra cannon-fodder might come in handy. In your favour as has been mentioned, most Goyles are incredibly stupid and if you cannot con one into accepting Travellers’ Cheques you really aren’t deserving of the label ‘sentient’. Against that, there is the question of how smart you are to have ventured to Goyle in the first place.

Assuming you manage to return from Goyle (see Getting There & Away) it’s not impossible that you may have picked up some hard local currency during your stay and you will doubtless wish to offload it, since there is no way in your right mind you will ever consider going back. Banks and foreign exchanges will take the coins off your hands for nothing, but only as part of a legal obligation to discourage travellers from carrying concealed weapons. You’re really better off just donating any spare Goylish coins to the charity of your choice. They’re worth nothing to charities either, but if you can slip it into the collection box with a touch of sleight of hand the collector will never notice and you will have the satisfaction of having looked good in their eyes.

Lonely Planet Guide To Goyle – Part 3

Religion

It is unknown whether any of the different species of Goyle subscribe to a belief in a higher power. There are no known religious days in any of the calendars and Goyles are not given to daily rituals of worship, unless cleaning and maintaining their weaponry counts. If any of them do lay claim to a Creator, He has more than likely disowned them.

(When this theory was put to one group of Goyles by a reckless evangelist, those Goyles did establish the closest thing to a church known to Goylish society. This ‘Vengeance’ faction eventually united several Goyles of different species under its banner, who all adhere to the basic tenet that if there is a God they will hunt Him down and make him pay. For what exactly, it’s uncertain, but since the evangelist claimed to know where to find Him they sent him ahead as a messenger to warn God they were coming. Prior to this they interrogated the evangelist as to God’s whereabouts but gave up on this as he only answered with vagaries and impossibilities such as ‘He resides in every one of us’.)

Language

Generally foul. Which, you’ll be pleased to hear, is by no means limited to profanities. Many Goyles accompany their vocal outbursts with noxious emissions and eruptions bordering on volcanic. If you are fortunate, your encounters will be with Goyles in sealed space armour, where those emissions are circulated around the suit interior so as to maintain and even augment the wearer’s aggressive disposition. Of course, an armed and armoured Goyle is thus more inclined to kill you just to vent some of that pent-up aggression, but that is infinitely preferable to their venting anything else. If life among or in the proximity of Goyles teaches us anything it is to count our blessings.

But really with the translation technology available in this day and age there’s scant need to cover the actual linguistic ins and outs in any detail, and in any case it would only amount to a lengthy discourse on monosyllabic grunts compressed together in long strings and retaining their capitalisation nine times out of ten. If you do happen to deactivate your translator for an authentic taste of local flavour you will hear what sounds like a dyspeptic frog that’s swallowed a machine gun. This will vary minimally from one Goylish race to another, and the range of variations can easily be imagined with changes to the make of machine gun, the breed of frog or the degree of dyspepsia.

Culture

Hahahahaha!

However, if none of the above has been a sufficient deterrent and you as a traveller are absolutely set on a visit, there is plenty more to put you off the whole idea in the next section: Facts For The Visitor.