Fandom: DCU, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, other.
Summary: It began with a big guy looking for a book, but this all happens a bit after that.
Author Notes: katarik and brown_betty plotbunnied, encouraged, and betaed.
The Patrician looked at the mess that was his office and sighed. It was a patient, resigned sigh. Brave, cruel people had undergone violent deaths after hearing Vetinari sigh like that, most of them by choice. Eagerly, even.
Some of them had attempted to take the city of Ankh-Morpork. Why somebody would want to was something that had always escaped Lord Vimes, Commander of the Watch. It was a foul city, full of dangerous bastards, and Samuel Vimes had always considered that the optimal number of dangerous bastards was one: himself. More than that, and you had trouble. Trouble led to police work, police work led to being late for dinner, and that led to his wife being understanding and supporting, which was more than he could bear. It made him want to be good, which was a disquieting experience at best.
"Will that be all, Commander?"
Vimes swore in his mind. The last time he had been woolgathering in front of the Patrician, he had nearly ended up a with another title. He suspected Vetinari did that on purpose, just to annoy him, although attempting to make sense of Vetinari's plans was a quick path to insanity. Sometimes Vimes did feel he was almost following the man's thoughts. That bothered him so much that he always went to do a night patrol on foot. It was a bit dangerous, just him, a golem, and a werewolf, but if Ankh-Morpork's criminal element -i.e., its population- chose those nights to be outside, that was their problem.
Which reminded Vimes that, yes, he had a few things to discuss with Vetinari.
"We are going to need to expand the Watch's Clinic, a lot of people were harmed when Darkseid's demons attacked."
Vetinari raised an eyebrow. A lesser man than Vimes would have fainted. "I thought the current building for the clinic was, and I believe I'm quoting you, 'Too bloody big'."
Vimes kept his stare fixed somewhere over Vetinari's left shoulder. "I recall, sir, but during the invasion Captain Carrot drafted all of the City's population into the Watch."
"Yes. Their commissions might have expired, but they were hurt while on Watch business. The Watch's Clinic has to take care of them."
"By 'they', you mean everybody?"
"And will they pay the Watchmen's regular contribution to the Clinic fund?"
"I... Sir. That'd be practically a new tax! We don't have enough riot police out of the Clinic to deal with that."
Vetinari waved a hand. "We'll do it through the temples' collection plates. Donations dedicated to each god for health purposes will go to a common fund, and that will cover the new clinics."
"A sort of single-prayer healthcare insurance, is that it?"
"That's a good name, Commander. We'll go with that."
Vimes would be happy as long as they didn't call it Vimes' Tax. He wasted enough time dealing with assassination attempts as it was.
"We still have the third delegation of Wizards waiting outside. They demand to know where Darkseid went, and why they weren't invited to offer him their spells."
"Commander, we invited every Wizard in Discworld to present their spells to Darkseid, as part of our surrender treaty with him. It is not our fault that he decided to leave the city after the first fifty-three."
"I know, sir, but they feel they have been slighted. Some of them are talking about opening a dimensional whatever to bring him back here, by force if necessary."
Vetinari put a hand over his table. "You will tell them that they can, of course, travel by magical means to Apok-Lips if they want to -in fact, I heartily endorse, in non-monetary terms, their research voyages- but by no means should scheming demigods be brought to the city without an import permit. Am I clear?"
Vimes nodded. "There's another thing, sir." It was the important thing, really, but it wasn't something Vimes wanted to approach in a direct way, instead of the Vetinari way, which was so twisted that it looked straight at every step, until you realized you had gone full circle.
"This Darkseid. I understand he came to Ankh-Morpork looking for a spell."
Vetinari picked a paper from the piles thrown around in the floor, folded it neatly and put it carefully in the table's only free space. It already started to look like his office again. "Something called the Anti-Life Igualation, yes."
"It was a reasonable place to look for it, then, as we have the University's Library in the city."
"I suppose. Was the Library searched?" Vetinari didn't seem concerned, although it was always hard to know what the man was feeling, or if.
"It took them a lot to subdue the Librarian, but apparently they did. It seems they found nothing."
The Patrician shrugged, somehow, in a lethal way. "Is that all?"
Vimes smiled. "On that matter, yes. But the Librarian has just received a quite... peculiar message. Did you know that a wizard named Rincewind was sent away with a book in some sort of inter-library loan?"
"If I understood the Librarian correctly, it was a book about something called Anti-Algebra, whatever that might be."
"And this Rincewind was told to take that book away mere hours before Darkseid's troops attacked. To a library in a city called Amantis."
"Still fascinating, Commander."
"The lost city of Amantis is apparently a myth, sir. This Rincewind was sent on a fool's errand with the book."
Vetinary harrumped most distinctly. "I assume you have a point, Commander, but I'm not sure I follow you. If you'll excuse me..." Vetinari continued tidying up his office.
"One more thing, sir. The Librarian just got a receipt."
The Patrician dropped the paper in his hand. Vimes didn't smile, but told himself he would treasure this moment for his entire life.
"Seems Rincewind did find Amantis, and the city's head -a woman called Elizabeth the Weird- is sending a diplomatic mission here."
Vetinari sighed again. This was proving a most tiresome week.