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…

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