And that, as they say, was that.
A young man in clerical robes sat on This Time Round's car-park wall, his hand
clutched around a five-pointed star.
Then he heard a loud voice coming from the pub behind him.
"This isn't over! I'll see all of you in court, or my name isn't Elliot
He turned, to see Elliot stalking away from the 'Round, while a seven-foot-tall
golem stood watching in the doorway.
Discworld golem, most likely, a distant part of the young man's mind said. No
word inscribed on its head...
He watched as Elliot got into his car and drove away.
Finally, he sighed, stood, and started down the road to Nameless.
The golem watched him leave.
Then he closed the door.
"/Woah/." Calia said. "Is it /always/ like this?"
"Pretty much..." Mia sighed.
Her extended clan /looked/ at each other.
Mia eyed them. "Let me guess. You're planning on using this as your new home
"Well, be fair..." Tami demurred. "It's not like we haven't seen worse..."
"I know..." Mia murmured.
Tami sighed. "...Mia, look. We didn't come to get you back, we came to see how
you were doing. You're our clan-sister and our former captain - you don't think
we'd want to drop in?"
"...I know you would," Mia said softly. "I know _you_."
Tami met her gaze. "Your last order was that we were not to try and get you
back. We didn't disobey your orders when you were captain, and we're not about
to start now.
"We just want to know we can drop in on our clan-sister, catch up on things.
Talk about old times..."
"We miss you, y'know?" Sabii added.
Mia looked at the hopeful expressions on her clan's faces.
Finally, she sighed.
"All right, all right..."
"YAAAAAY!!!!" the clan cheered.
"Now we've got /that/ settled," Mia said, once the cheering had died down, "let
me introduce you to my /current/ co-workers..."
Paul Andinach frowned. "What happened to the theme?"
"Well, for one," Amber answered, "the original theme for this year - 'The Fix
Is In' - didn't get properly communicated to the individual authors. Without
any word from the organisers on what the theme /was/, they made their best
guess based on the only piece of evidence available to them-"
"Gray's prelude." Paul completed. "Hence why all the animated stuff during the
"Exactly." Amber said.
Paul frowned. "Hold on, hold on... we had a block of awards that weren't
animated _or_ 'fixed'."
"Not on-stage..." Amber said. "Don't worry. Even the off-stage fixers got
Paul eyed the Goddess-Muse of Metafiction. "Uh-huh. You wouldn't have had
anything to do with that, would you?"
Amber had the decency to look abashed. "Let's just say various parties had an
interest in making sure everything came out all right."
Paul eyed the Proprietor suspiciously. "Uh-huh..."
The Proprietor essayed a smirk like unto that of a walrus who's got the fish.
Paul winced, and turned quickly back to Amber. "So these fixers... are they
likely to want revenge?"
"Oh no," Amber assured him. "Most of them have found ways to convince
themselves not to get involved any further, apart from those who got nobbled by
Mia's clan... but the clan are used to this sort of thing by now."
"Mia's clan?" Paul raised an eyebrow. "Do I want to know?"
Amber's mouth quirked. "Wait for the finished story."
Paul's other eyebrow joined its mate. "Mm. You wouldn't happen to know where
Imran is, would you? These expository questions are usually /his/ sort of
"He and Allie're off on high errantry." Amber answered. "Sandra's off on high
errantry in Limbo, and the rest of the Allinghams have managed to haul in
Carrie and the Trader for /their/ bout of high errantry."
Paul's eyebrows remained raised. "Again: do I want to know?"
Amber grinned. "Hopefully, you'll get the chance to find out... if Gray can
find enough spare time..."
Paul's eyebrows didn't let up.
"For now, though," Amber said, "I think I owe the girls a party..."
And that, as the post-ceremony party swung into gear, really was that.