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In Which the Persons and Activities of Our Heroes Come to the Attention of Those Authorities Of Puissant and Mighty Ozar Upon Whose Shoulders Rests the Grave and High Task of Defending Ozarae And Its Interests Against Subversion and Insurrection. Taken From the Minutes of the Senate Committee Armed and Brevetted to Investigate Odious Unconscionable Sedition, Obtained by the Alfredae Through Means Which Remain To This Day the Well-Hidden Secret of Our Noble Clan of Chroniclers.

Minutes of the Monthly Session of the Ozarean Senate Committee Armed and Brevetted to Investigate Odious Unconscionable Sedition. Convened on the 28th day of October, Year of the Jackal. Chairman of the Committee: His Puissance the Senator Whelm, Imperial Republican Party. Meeting in Full and Open Session, All Members Present. His Puissance the Senator Whelm pounds his gavel.

Chairman Whelm: I hereby declare this session of the Committee open. All persons will come to order. Puissant colleagues, distinguished guests, this session of the Committee will concentrate its attention upon the nefarious activities and schemes of a newly discovered plotter against the well-being of Ozarae and its interests. (Murmurs in the chamber. Chairman Whelm raps his gavel.) Order! (Order is restored.) A new threat to our peace and prosperity has been brought to my attention. So grave did the menace posed by this heretofore unknown subversive seem to me, that I determined at once to bring the attention of the entire Committee to bear upon him. Let me begin my remarks by informing the Committee that the great and long-standing friend of the Imperial Republic of Ozar, King Roy of Goimr, is no longer of this world. (Great hubbub erupts in the chamber. Chairman Whelm raps his gavel.) Order! Order! (Order is restored.) Yes, sad to say, that peace-loving monarch, trusted friend of our nation, who was always ready to assist our commercial and industrial enterprises in their endeavors to uplift his backward country, has been most foully undone. He was driven to madness by the schemes of a sorcerer of his own capital, one Zulkeh of Goimr by name. But rather than tell the story myself, I would like to call to the stand one of our distinguished guests. (A man of easy grace leaves his place in the visitors' gallery and takes a seat at the witness table.) This gentleman, yclept Gerard, was formerly the Chief Counselor to the Throne of Goimr. Upon the King's descent into insanity, Gerard was one of the notables of the realm who took matters into their capable hands and established a new provisional government. May I introduce the new head of the state of Goimr, First Clerk Gerard. (Polite applause.)

First Clerk Gerard: Thank you. May I extend to the honorable Committee the greetings of the new provisional government of Goimr, of which I have the honor to be its First Clerk. Let me say here that the new government of Goimr intends to continue the enlightened policies of the former government with regard to cooperation with Ozar's legitimate interests. Indeed, we are determined to go further than the late lamented King in this respect. We are firmly determined to bring the now-Republic of Goimr fully into the modern world.

Senator Bourse: Senator Whelm, I would like the floor.

Chairman Whelm: The chair recognizes Senator Bourse, of the Imperial Democratic Party.

Senator Bourse: First Clerk Gerard, I would like to say that your initial remarks have been most gratifying. In these times of turmoil, we are naturally concerned upon hearing of the collapse of yet another government, especially one of such long-standing stability and servil—amity—with the legitimate needs and interests of the Imperial Republic of Ozar. In this regard, do I understand that the Kingdom of Goimr is now replaced by a Republic?

First Clerk Gerard: That is so, Senator.

Senator Bourse: I see. Naturally, I myself advocate the republican system. Indeed, I yield to none in the depths of my love, my adoration, for democracy. Yet—I must speak frankly—it is a fact, albeit regrettable, that the replacement of monarchies by republics has frequently been accompanied by great disorder and tumult. For all too often the lowlifes of a new Republic confuse freedom with license, especially as the economic dictates of modern society gain their full sway, unhampered by now-discarded feudal impediments.

First Clerk Gerard: Puissant senator, I believe that you need have no fears in this regard regarding the new provisional government of Goimr. To begin with, let me assure you that the ascension of the new government did not take place through disreputable riot and revolution, but through the most precisely legal and legitimate means. The King of Goimr having been determined an insane man, the Council of State declared him unfit for regnancy and placed him in an asylum, where, I regret to say, the poor man hanged himself in his sleep. We then examined his heirs, down through all collateral lines to three generations, both male and female, to find an heir who would satisfy the basic requirement of rulership according to the ancient laws of the Kingdom of Goimr. Regretfully, not one of them could satisfy this basic requirement.

Senator Bourse: And what is that requirement?

First Clerk Gerard: Being able to count your fingers.

Senator Bourse: Not one of them could count their fingers?

First Clerk Gerard: I'm afraid not. The Heir Apparent failed the examination completely. In fact, he dropped dead from the strain. We sought to test the other boys of the royal family, but the little rascals had all burned to death in the great fire which destroyed the royal palace because they were playing with matches. We had hopes for the distaff members of the family, but the clumsy girls had apparently cut off their fingers in a series of kitchen accidents just before the fire. An unfortunate coincidence, since it's possible that one of them might have been able to count her fingers, if they'd had any left. In fact, it seems certain that at least one of the princesses would have passed the test. For would you believe that, after we placed the girls in the care of the Abbess of the Convent of the Ladies in Peace, the clever little hoydens managed—even without fingers!—to hang themselves.

Senator Bourse: All of them?

First Clerk Gerard: Every last one. Distressed, no doubt, at the untimely death of their brothers. It was at that point that the Council decided we had no choice but to replace the kingdom with a new provisional government. At each step of the process, I should like to say, we consulted closely with the leaders of the Armed Forces and the Ecclesiarchy, as well, it goes without saying, as the Ozarean Consul and the Regional Vice-President of the Consortium. I might also mention that we were greatly assisted in this difficult time by the energetic efforts of your—ah—representative, Rupert Inkman.

Senator Bourse: Well, this is certainly encouraging. And what is the name of your new government?

First Clerk Gerard: Attila the Junta.

Senator Bourse: Most reassuring, most reassuring! I believe I speak for every member of the Committee here. (Cries of "Quite right" and "Hear, Hear!") Indeed, if I may—

Chairman Whelm: Pardon my interruption, esteemed colleague, but I would like to get on with the business at hand, which is the investigation of the knavish sorcerer Zulkeh. I believe that First Clerk Gerard has more than satisfied the Committee's concern regarding his reliability as a witness? (Cries of "Quite right!" and "Hear, hear!")

Senator Bourse: I stand corrected and yield the floor. Will the Puissant Chairman continue the investigation?

Senator Whelm: I thank the esteemed Senator from the Imperial Democratic Party. First Clerk Gerard, as I understand it, the unfortunate train of events which led to the demise of the Kingdom of Goimr was set in motion by this sorcerer, Zulkeh of Goimr?

First Clerk Gerard: Quite so, Honorable Chairman. The wizard Zulkeh was summoned to the palace at the request of the King, whose peace of mind had been disturbed by a ridiculous dream. I instructed this so-called wizard, in no uncertain terms, to quiet the King's fears. Instead this fiend, seeing in the King's unstable frame of mind a chance to strike a mortal blow at the tranquility of the Realm, chose to interpret the King's dream in such a way as to inflame His Majesty's morbid temperament to the point of madness.

Chairman Whelm: What did he say to the King?

First Clerk Gerard: The villain told the King that his dream foretold the utter and complete destruction of his kingdom, his palace, his dynasty and his Royal Person, this ruination to encompass the entire male line of the Royal Family down to three generations, and possibly—on this point the scoundrel feigned uncertainty—the entire female line as well. (Great hubbub fills the chamber. Cries of "O foul deed!" and "Damnable Treason!" Chairman Whelm pounds his gavel many times.)

Chairman Whelm: Order! Order! Order! (Order is restored.) I believe the Committee can now see for themselves the danger which this sorcerer presents. In one stroke, he overthrows the government of one of our most long-standing and reliable allies on the all-too-often unsettled sub-continent of Grotum. Nor was this the last—nor even the greatest!—crime committed by this demon in human flesh. Nay, esteemed colleagues, prepare yourselves for a long and weary session. For I assure you, we have only begun our investigation. Many witnesses are still to be called. But for the moment, I would like to extend my thanks, and that of the Committee, to our distinguished guest. First Clerk Gerard, I thank you again, and you may resume your seat in the gallery. (Vigorous applause fills the chamber. First Clerk Gerard takes his seat in the gallery.) And now I would like to call to the witness stand the esteemed Director of the Ozarean Republic's Commission to Repel Unbridled Disruption, the Angel Jimmy Jesus. (Vigorous applause fills the chamber. The Angel Jimmy Jesus takes his seat at the witness table.)

Chairman Whelm: For the official record—although it's hardly necessary in your case!—will the witness please identify himself?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Certainly. I am the Angel Jimmy Jesus, Director of——, assigned to all work involving——.

Chairman Whelm: Thank you. And will you now inform the Committee as to the nature of the work you have been co-coordinating for the past period?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus. Yes, sir. At the request of the Chairman of this Committee, and pursuant to all regulations governing the activities of the——, I have launched an investigation into the history of the individual known as——.

Senator Patellarasa: Puissant Chairman, may I have the floor?

Chairman Whelm: The floor is given to Senator Patellarasa of the Liberal Party (Hand-Wringing Faction).

Senator Patellarasa: The Angel Jimmy Jesus, I wish to assure myself that the suspect's right to privacy and freedom from inquisitory harassment were respected in the course of your investigation, as laid out in the Citizens' Privacy Code.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Senator Patellarasa, the investigation into the person of——was conducted at all times within the guidelines of the Citizens' Privacy Code, as well as, I might add, the specific regulations governing my organization, the——, even though, I might add, the subject is not actually a citizen of——. In proof of my assertion, I present the following documentation. (The Angel Jimmy Jesus hands a folder to the secretary of the Committee, who presents it to Chairman Whelm.)

Chairman Whelm: After examining the contents of this folder, I inform the Committee that it contains documentary proof that an anonymous message warning the suspect that he was under investigation by Ozarine authorities was scrawled on the underside of a manhole cover within a fifteen mile radius of the suspect's last known residence. I believe, and I am sure the Committee will concur, that this more than satisfies the provisions of the Citizens' Privacy Code.

Senator Patellarasa: One moment, please. I would like to know the exact content of the message.

Chairman Whelm: The message reads: "We're watching you." As this message clearly identifies both a subject and an object, as well as specifying the precise relationship between the two, I believe that it more than satisfies the Code. Senator Patellarasa, do you not agree?

Senator Patellarasa: Not entirely. I—(The chamber erupts in jeers and catcalls.)

Chairman Whelm, pounding his gavel: Order! Order! Order! (Order is restored.)

Senator Arbeitmachtfrei: Puissant Chairman! I demand the floor!

Chairman Whelm: I recognize the Senator from the Sons of Ozar.

Senator Arbeitmachtfrei: I denounce this interference with the sword of justice! I denounce this attempt on the part of the Liberal Party (Hand-Wringing Faction) to handcuff the authorities! I denounce the Citizens' Privacy Code as a stain on the Ozarean spirit!

Senator Patellarasa: And for my part, I whine in protest at—(The chamber erupts with insults directed at Senator Patellarasa's ancestry and manhood.)

Chairman Whelm, pounding his gavel many times. Order! Order! Order! (Order is restored.) Senator Patellarasa, you are out of order! And let me say for the record that while the Senator from the Sons of Ozar at times advances his opinion in somewhat more rigorous terms than would most others—

Senator Arbeitmachtfrei: To the ovens! To the ovens!

Chairman Whelm:—that many of us, indeed, I will say most of us here, share his concern with the weight of pettifoggery and red tape which has come to overburden our finest investigatory agencies. With that in mind, let us proceed with the report of the Angel Jimmy Jesus. (Cries of "Quite right!" and "Hear, Hear!") The Angel Jimmy Jesus, you have the floor.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: The principal purpose of our investigation has been to establish the history of the——, with particular regard to any of his associations with——. I am pleased to say that our investigation has turned up much information. This information, as will become apparent, fully justifies the great concern which the Committee and my own organization the——has taken in the activities of the——. As the Committee has already heard the testimony of——, which recounts the criminal actions of——in the city of——, I would like to concentrate my testimony on the actions of——following his escape from justice in the city which I have not mentioned.

Chairman Whelm: Certainly, certainly.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Thank you, sir. As will become clear, the suspect——has in a short time compiled a truly impressive record of criminal wrongdoing. Indeed, both my own organization, the——, as well as such other investigatory agencies as———,———,——, and——have been hot on the trail of the miscreant and his confederates—

Chairman Whelm: Confederates? Do I understand you to say that the villain is part of a cabal?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Yes, sir. He has been associated for some years with a dwarf of unknown and suspicious origin—(Cries of "A dwarf!" and "How disgusting!") —and has in the more recent period been acting in league with a notorious highwayman and that latter's own criminal gang, which consists of two renegade nobles from Malata. The offenses of this subversive—I leave out of consideration the suspect's crimes in Goimr, which have already been recounted—are positively legion: 1) calling into question the commercial philosophy and weltanschauung of a subsidiary of the Consortium; 2) ridiculing a man of the cloth; 3) proselytizing Joesy; 4) associating with a notorious highwayman under the guise of being robbed; 5) calling again into question the commercial philosophy and weltanschauung of a subsidiary of the Consortium; 6) exhibiting disrespect for the legal profession; 7) participating in the escape of a felon under the guise of being robbed; 8) calling into question yet again the commercial philosophy and weltanschauung of a subsidiary of the Consortium; 9) participating in his own escape from lawful capture by representatives of the provisional government of Goimr with the assistance of a notorious highwayman; 10) participating in the slaughter of said legal representatives of the provisional government of Goimr with the aid of—(The Angel Jimmy Jesus is interrupted by a cry from the visitors' gallery.)

First Clerk Gerard: What's this? What's this? Are you saying the fiend has murdered our noble commandos? (Great hubbub erupts in the chamber. Chairman Whelm pounds his gavel vigorously.)

Chairman Whelm: Order! Order! Order! (Order is restored.) First Clerk Gerard, I must reprimand you for disrupting the session! Guests in the visitors' gallery are not permitted to speak!

First Clerk Gerard: My apologies, Puissant Chairman. It's just—the sudden shock—

Chairman Whelm: Yes, yes, I understand. Nevertheless, the formalities must be observed. I take it from your reaction that this is the first you have heard of the fate of your commandos? Go on, man, you may speak.

First Clerk Gerard: Thank you, sir. Yes, yes, it's true that our commandos were long overdue, but we had thought they had deser—uh, well, that is to say, the salary of our soldiery is perhaps not—we are a poor country—for that very reason, in fact, do I require the assistance of the—well, I will speak of that later—The Angel Jimmy Jesus, do I understand you that our noble commandos were slain?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Butchered like sheep.

First Clerk Gerard: All of them?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Does a pack of wolves spare the littlest lamb of the flock?

First Clerk Gerard: O horror! O murder most foul! (Hubbub and uproar. Chairman Whelm gavels ferociously. Order is restored.)

Chairman Whelm: First Clerk Gerard, the entire Committee is in deepest sympathy with your distress. At the same time, it is essential that we press on, precisely in order to bring this criminal to justice in the swiftest manner. With that in mind, I would like the Angel Jimmy Jesus to continue his testimony.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Certainly, sir. In the interests of that selfsame swift justice, let me wrap up this well-nigh endless list of crimes with the latest and most heinous depredation of the suspect—nothing less than debasement of the currency. (Tremendous uproar in the chamber. Chairman Whelm pounds his gavel many, many, many times. Order is restored.)

Chairman Whelm: Do I understand you to say that the suspect is guilty of counterfeiting?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: With all due respect, Puissant Chairman, it is difficult to give a precise answer to your question. We find ourselves here in a gray area of the law. I did not state, you will perhaps notice, that the suspect has engaged in counterfeiting. I stated that he was guilty of debasing the currency. Our legal experts are even now working night and day to determine if actual counterfeiting, as covered by the various statutes of Ozarae or any of the countries of Grotum, can be charged as well. The matter remains unclear.

Chairman Whelm: I admit to being a bit confused. Did, or did not, the suspect pass bad money?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: The question cannot be answered so simply, sir. The suspect purchased a number of services and goods from various subsidiaries of the Consortium, which he paid for by presenting gold tender. Our suspicions became aroused after we noticed that, on every occasion, this gold tender was presented in the form of oddly-shaped ingots. The gold was then subjected to careful examination by our best experts.

Chairman Whelm: And the result? Was it real gold?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: In its content, the gold proved on every occasion to consist of pure, twenty-four-carat gold.

Chairman Whelm: Wherein, then, lies the debasement of the currency? I must say, the Angel Jimmy Jesus, it seems to me that, in your admirable efforts to apprehend this rogue, you are here adding a rather flimsy charge to what is already a long list of capital crimes.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: I understand your point, sir, but as I hope to make clear, it is our suspicion that the suspect is in fact engaged in a crime of monstrous proportions, so monstrous that it has as yet no name in the statute books. For our experts pursued the matter further and examined the external form of the ingots, with a particular eye to determining the method of casting involved. As you may know, the Consortium retains a legal monopoly throughout Grotum on all casting, smelting or forging of gold bullion. It was thus our thought that the suspect might be guilty of illegal gold-casting, if not of actual counterfeiting.

Chairman Whelm: I see! And your investigation showed that the suspect is running an illegal gold-casting operation?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: I regret to say that it is not so simple, sir. The statutes specifically forbid the unauthorized casting, smelting or forging of gold. The gold distributed by the suspect, however, was procured by a hitherto unknown method, which, I am sorry to say, is not forbidden by any statute.

Chairman Whelm: A new method of making gold? What is it?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Transmutation, sir. Transmutation. (Stupendous hubbub explodes in the chamber. Chairman Whelm pounds his gavel innumerable times. Order is restored.)

Chairman Whelm: Indeed! Well, I must say this is most irregular. I can assure you that my colleagues and I will see to it that statutes are passed which regulate this new method of gold-making, placing it in authorized and responsible hands. But until such statutes are on the books, I must tell you that with the best will in the world I cannot see the validity of your charge that the suspect is debasing the currency. After all, gold is gold. As the old saying goes, gold has neither lineage nor need of one. It is purity itself.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Precisely, sir! And there lies the villain's depravity! For he has struck at the very linchpin of modern civilization—the purity of gold.

Senator Sahib: Mr. Chairman! Mr. Chairman! It is imperative that I be given the floor!

Chairman Whelm: The Chair recognizes the Senator from the No-Bullshit Imperialist Party.

Senator Sahib: Thank you. Puissant Chairman, I must insist that the Committee go into closed session. All guests and visitors must be removed, with the exception, of course, of our witnesses. (Senator Bourse seconds the motion.)

Chairman Whelm: All in favor? (The Committee votes overwhelmingly for the motion.) Sergeant-at-arms, clear the room. (The room is cleared.)

Senator Sahib: Let me explain to the august Senators of our Committee that I insisted on closing this session in order to forestall public panic. I believe I have grasped the essence of the Angel Jimmy Jesus' testimony. And if my surmise is correct, then I agree completely with the esteemed Director that we are faced with an unprecedented threat to the security and well-being of our glorious empire. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, may I conduct the further questioning of the witness?

Chairman Whelm: Certainly.

Senator Sahib: Thank you. The Angel Jimmy Jesus, a question has remained unasked. You have stated that the suspect has created gold through transmutation—that is to say, by the magical transformation of something else into the noblest of God's substances.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Yes, sir.

Senator Sahib: And what was that something else out of which the gold was transformed?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Dwarf shit.

Senator Sahib: I beg your pardon?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Dwarf shit.

Senator Bourse: Not regular shit? I mean, normal people shit?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Dwarf shit. (Stupefying hubbub erupts in the chamber. Chairman Whelm pounds his gavel an innumerable number of times.)

Chairman Whelm: Order! Order! Order! Order! (Order is restored.). Senator Sahib, I give you back the floor.

Senator Sahib: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Angel Jimmy Jesus, I now require the answer to several questions. First, how much of this—tainted—gold has been placed into circulation?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: It is difficult to say, Senator. We first became aware of the situation but recently. Over a considerable period, the suspect has remained at large, along with his dwarf accomplice, and has pursued activities which do not appear to have been restricted in any way by lack of funds. Given that dwarves shit quite regularly, once, sometimes twice a day, we can only conclude that a large amount of this, as you aptly put it, tainted gold is now in general circulation. I might also add that, given the velocity of modern currency exchange, it is well-nigh certain that at least some of this gold has long since departed Grotum and is to be found here in the Ozarine heartland as well.

Senator Sahib: My second question, then: Is there any way to distinguish this horrid dwarf gold from normal gold, once it has been turned into coinage and has entered the global monetary system?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: No, Senator, there is not.

Senator Sahib: I feared as much. My third question: Has either your Commission or the Consortium managed to discover the exact process whereby this dwarf gold is produced?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: No, Senator, we have not.

Senator Sahib: Have you attempted to do so?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Certainly. In fact, we've given it top priority. We have established a special secret laboratory—far removed from any population centers, needless to say—which is working night and day to discover the technique. Pursuant to that end, we have obtained a sizable number of dwarves and have subjected their defecatory products to exhaustive and rigorous scientific examination.

Senator Sahib: And the result?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: We've got a lot of dwarf shit on our hands.

Senator Sahib: My fears deepen by the minute. I assume, since you have been unable to determine the method by which this dwarf gold is produced, that you have also been unable to determine anything else about its properties.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: That is correct, sir.

Senator Sahib: I tremble for the State. My last question: How long will this dwarf gold remain in that form? Do we have any reason to believe, based on solid scientific data, that this dwarf gold will not, at some uncertain future date, suddenly transform itself back into dwarf shit?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: No, Senator, we do not. (Indescribable chaos erupts in the chamber. Chairman Whelm pounds his gavel a multitude of times. Order is at length restored.)

Senator Sahib: Esteemed colleagues, you now grasp the full extent of the crisis. It would be bad enough if the loyal citizenry of Ozarae were to discover that some of the gold in circulation resided once in the bowels of a cruddy little dwarf. But this! At any moment, the most delicate financial transactions, the most pivotal commercial exchanges—all of domestic and foreign trade alike!—could be suddenly brought to ruin by the emergence of dozens, hundreds, thousands, of little piles of dwarf shit everywhere—in the bank vaults, in the cash registers, why—even in the pockets of the very Senators sitting around this room! (Great hubbub erupts.)

Chairman Whelm, wielding his gavel. Order! Order!

Senator Vichyssoise: Mr. Chairman! I require the floor!

Chairman Whelm: The Chair recognizes Senator Vichyssoise of the League Larvaliste.

Senator Vichyssoise: Esteemed colleagues, I submit that we now have no option but to collaborate with the proposal which has often been placed on the floor by Senator Arbeitmachtfrei with respect to the dwarf menace. All dwarves must be immediately exterminated.

Senator Patellarasa: Mr. Chairman, I whimper for the floor.

Chairman Whelm: The Chair faintly discerns the wavering figure of Senator Patellarasa.

Senator Patellarasa: Esteemed colleagues, I must take exception to Senator Vichyssoise's proposal. We are confronted here with a moral quandary. Does the good of civilization as a whole outweigh the drama and pathos of the mass slaughter of millions of dwarves—all but one of them innocent of any wrongdoing? (Jeers and gibes erupt in the chamber.)

Chairman Whelm: Order! (He pounds his gavel.) Senator Patellarasa, I warn you that the Committee, famed though it is for its tolerance and willingness to examine all sides of an issue, is rapidly losing patience with your usual pussyfooting drivel.

Senator Patellarasa: Mr. Chairman, the Liberal Party (Hand-Wringing Faction) cannot in good conscience acquiesce without protest in the prospective massacre of multitudes of law-abiding citizens, even if they are a lot of cruddy little dwarves. I must warn you that if Senator Vichyssoise's proposal is adopted we shall certainly organize a candlelight vigil—in which we will undoubtedly be joined by the Well-Meaning, Bleeding-Heart and Knee-Jerk factions of the Liberal Party, as well as the Sociable Democrats. (Taunts and jibes fill the chamber.)

Chairman Whelm: Order! Order! (He bangs his gavel. Order is restored.) Senator Patellarasa, you may resume the floor—but I warn you, get to the point!

Senator Patellarasa: I shall do so, Mr. Chairman. But I say again, I cannot let pass the opportunity to dwell on the savagery of the action under consideration. You must understand the full ramifications! We'd have to chop up the whole lot of them, even the little baby dwarves. For they all shit quite regularly, you know, once, sometimes twice a day. It is this ethical—(Jeers and taunts erupt in the chamber.)

Chairman Whelm: Order! Order! (He bangs his gavel. Order is restored.) Senator Patellarasa, that's about enough. The time of this Committee is valuable and not to be wasted with a lot of puling nonsense about widdle-biddle itsy-bitsy eeny-weeny dwarf babies. I mean, who gives a fuck? You are no longer recog—

Senator Patellarasa: But Mr. Chairman, there's big money to be made here! (For the first time in living memory, total silence erupts in the chamber.)

Chairman Whelm: The Senator from the Liberal Party (Hand-Wringing Faction) is commanded to explain his last remark.

Senator Patellarasa: Puissant Chairman, esteemed colleagues, in your haste you have—as is so often the case with conservative attempts to deal with symptoms rather than causes—overlooked the obvious. We do not know, as yet, that this new method of producing gold is temporary. For all we know, it may well be permanent. Before taking any precipitous action, we must find out! For if this new method of gold-making results in permanent gold, think of the prosperity for the many—and the fortunes for the few! Think of the countryside dotted with hundreds, even thousands, of little gold factories, inhabited by thousands, even millions, of little dwarves crapping away for the enrichment of all society! Of course, they'd have to be regulated and such, but—

Senator Arbeitmachtfrei: Treason! Treason! If you think for a minute we'll put up with gold made out of dwarf shit, you're—

Senator Sahib: Shut up, you clown! When we need you, moron, we'll call on you. You stupid jackass, gold already comes from dwarf shit, or the nearest thing to it. Everybody knows that all the gold mines are already worked by dwarves. Never let the scummy little bastards up after they're sent down, of course, they'd steal you blind if you did. So they're already down there digging up the gold and crapping all over the place. They shit quite regularly, you know, once, sometimes twice a day. So what? That's why we have processing plants. Personally, I think Senator Patellarasa's hit on something here. (Cries of "Quite right!" and "Hear, hear!") Esteemed colleagues, I move we adopt a multipartisan solution to the problem. Our policy: First, underwrite a top-priority crash program to discover the secret of dwarf-gold production. Second, shackle the lazy little crappers to the toilet bowls!

Chairman Whelm: Colleagues, what is your pleasure? (Senator Arbeitmachtfrei votes against the motion; all others vote in favor.) Colleagues of the Committee, I have but one thing to add to the motion which we just adopted. I believe it goes without saying that, in addition to the steps adopted, we must place a top priority on the quickest possible apprehension of the suspect Zulkeh and his dwarven accomplice. (Cries of "Quite right!" and "Hear, hear!") All in favor? (The motion passes unanimously.) Excellent! The Angel Jimmy Jesus, you are hereby invested by this Committee with the fullest authorization to deepen and expand your manhunt for the selfsame miscreant and all who might aid or abet him.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: At your service, sir.

Chairman Whelm: Well, then! Esteemed colleagues, I believe we've done another good day's work. I hereby declare this session of the Committee—

Senator Bourse: One moment, please! Puissant Chairman, there is one last item of business I would like to take up.

Chairman Whelm: And what is that?

Senator Bourse: I believe the Committee is entitled to hear a report from the Angel Jimmy Jesus concerning the current situation with the Rap Sheet in Grotum. (Many cries of "Quite right!" and "Hear! Hear!")

Chairman Whelm: Well, I'm not sure—imperial security—

Senator Bourse: Puissant Chairman, I must insist! The decision to send the Rap Sheet to Grotum was hotly debated in this very chamber. The final vote was not unanimous, even despite the great pressure from the Nabobs. Indeed, had the Director of Companies not been so insistent I would have voted against the proposal myself. At the very least, therefore, I believe this Committee is entitled to a report as to the current status of the project.

Chairman Whelm: Very well. The Angel Jimmy Jesus, can you inform the Committee with regard to the point raised by Senator Bourse?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: Certainly, sir. Pursuant to the authorization given by this body, I immediately organized the dispatch of our third Rap Sheet to Prygg, under the direct supervision of one of my most capable and trusted lieutenants, Rupert Inkman. (Cries of "O fell and mighty operative!" and "The savior of the Rellenos!" fill the chamber.) Agent Inkman reports that the Rap Sheet is in position and we are on the verge of launching our final campaign to destroy the revolutionary movement throughout Grotum. Indeed, the announcement of the campaign will be made very soon, at the culmination of the festivities surrounding the upcoming wedding of the Princess Snuffy and the Honorable Anthwerp Freckenrizzle III. It seemed to Agent Inkman and myself that this social occasion, embodying as it does the unity in action of Ozarae and Prygg, was the perfect occasion for making public our plans. Needless to say, all police and military forces throughout Grotum are now on full alert status and will throw themselves into action at the stroke of midnight, October 31, simultaneously with the public announcement of the campaign. (Cries of "Bravo!" and "O shrewd stroke!") I might add that the fact that our campaign will begin on Halloween has the additional advantage of making full use of the well-known superstitious proclivities of the Groutch masses.

Senator Bourse: Excellent! My principal concern, however, is not with the actual plan of operation. I would not presume to interfere with your expertise in these matters. And I am certainly gratified to hear that our noble Agent Inkman is in direct charge. Why, the man's name alone strikes fear into the heart of subversives the world over. (Cries of "Ozar's finest!" and "The iron heel!") My concern is rather with the security of the Rap Sheet itself. Should, by some mischance, the Rap Sheet be—well! Its loss would be irreparable. Our other two are already committed, the one to the Rellenos and the other to Ozar itself. We will not be able to replace the Rap Sheet now in Grotum, should it be lost. That was always my great concern, and the reason I agreed with such reluctance to this project.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: I believe you may rest easy here, Senator. I assure you that the security for the Rap Sheet is insurmountable. I cannot, of course, go into the details. But let me simply say that the security for the Rap Sheet could only be overcome by a combination of brains and brawn which—certainly the brains!—is far beyond the capacity of the Groutch rabble. Finally, even if by some impossible stroke of blind luck the Rap Sheet were to be taken from us, its loss would only be temporary. I hesitate to say the following, but I will trust the discretion of the Committee. Know, Senators, that despite his own great misgivings regarding our project, that God's Own Tooth consented to apply his immense magical powers and has incorporated Rupert Inkman's soul into the Rap Sheet. (Cries of "O mystic power!" and "Ozar's grandeur swells!")

Senator Bourse: I confess I am not quite sure what that means.

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: What it means, Senator, is that so long as Rupert Inkman exists, he can call the Rap Sheet to his presence, whatever it is.

Senator Bourse: But what if he's killed?

The Angel Jimmy Jesus: I said, "so long as he exists," Senator. Rupert Inkman can be killed, but his body will be revivified by the power of the Rap Sheet. Indeed, any part of his body will serve. So you can see the trap which lies here for our opponents. Should they, by some unimaginable means, obtain the Rap Sheet, we will simply get it back—with their names emblazoned on it! Even if our opponents should kill Inkman in the process. So long as Rupert Inkman exists, the Rap Sheet is ours—so long as even a finger bone remains. (Cries of "Bravo!" and "incomparable cunning!")

Chairman Whelm: Senator, are you satisfied? (Senator Bourse nods his head.) I then declare this session of our Committee meeting at a close. (Chairman Whelm bangs his gavel. The members of the Committee file from the chamber.)

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