Things are stranger than usual in Ankh-Morpork.
Commander Vimes is dealing with a series of strange killings carried out by some sort of feral animal. Good evidence suggests it's a species not native to the Central Continent. A good witness, who has the scars to prove it (for now - werewolves
heal quickly provided it's not silver or fire) - identified them as leopards, a feral cat native to Howondaland
Vimes swears in a trainee Special Constable of his own recruiting, who he knows is possibly the most knowledgeable person the city has concerning Howondalandian wildlife
. She's from possibly the darkest corner
of darkest Howondaland, after all. And she runs the City Zoo
, to boot.
Johanna Smith-Rhodes teams up with Angua von Überwald to solve the mystery. And Ankh-Morpork becomes even more of a dangerous place to live as the leopards attract the jaundiced interest of Thieves, Assassins, Seamstresses, Beggars, Priests and Unseen University. And the gods. And Vetinari.
Angua discovers she has prejudices and unresolved issues of her own to deal with, as it becomes increasingly apparent the leopards are not all they seem.
Meanwhile, newly graduate Assassin Ruth N'Kweze falls in love with a classic bastard
. Are her loyalties to the Guild now compromised? Read on.
A wildlife/espionage/political/police/supernatural/romantic thriller written by A.A. Pessimal
This fan work has examples of the following:
- Ambadassador: Pieter van der Graaf, a man unperturbed by being target of a leopard attack. And Ambassador Canaan Banana N'Vectif of Kwa'Zululand.
- ActionAdventurer: Johanna.
- Action Girl: Johanna. And Angua.
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: the former Mouse God of the Disc. Claimed by the Death of Rats after a little unfortunate incident involving Bast, the Cat-Headed Goddess of Cats. The new God of Mice (as Nature and Belief abhor a vacuum) is better briefed, however.
- Bargain with Heaven: Sort of. But Hughnon Ridcully knows how to get the best out of his God.
- Bastard Bastard: Emmanuel N'Juri.
- Berserk Button: When Johanna, a White Howondalandian, takes her whip to Emmanuel N'Juri, a Black Howondalandian. This confirms all his suspicions about White Howondalandian attitudes to black people, and makes him want to kill her, slowly and agonisingly. Ironic, as... refer to Values Dissonance, below.
- Bilingual Bonus: Frequent but hopefully meaningful uses of French, Afrikaans, and some Zulu (this latter is not guaranteed perfect, however).
- Black Widow: Literally, Ruth N'Kweze.
- Bluff the Eavesdropper: Johanna, remembering her lessons in covert espionage at the Guild of Assassins, pulls this one to fool the spy team who are following her.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: the A-team is made up of blonde Angua, and redhead Johanna, with the brunette role variably played by key supporting characters Gillian Lansbury (brunette) Davinia Bellamy (mousy), or Emmanuelle Lapoignard Les Deux-Epées (OK, so her hair's black, but nobody is ever absolutely black-haired; ditto Ruth N'Kweze.) Platinum-blonde hairdresser Conina Cohensdaughter-Harebut, a semi-retired Thief/Heroine who keeps an ear to the grapevine, also comes into the story.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: Blind Io is more than happy for this to be subcontracted to his Discly intercessionary. Or at least to his high priest's brother, Mustrum.
- Cloak & Dagger: Everything that happens, cloaked in some inspired misdirection. Also the membership badge of the Guild of Assassins.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: the attempt to destabilise peace in Howondaland by a series of increasingly more blatant killings.
- Covert Group with Mundane Front: The Leopard Society. They aren't just a folklorique Howondalandian dance troupe.
- Dark Is Evil: Unlike wereleopards, werepanthers are explicitly stated as always being crazy, malevolent, twisted individuals. The werepanther featured in the fic is no exception to the general belief, being the instigator of the feasts on human flesh that ultimately lead to the revelation of the wereleopards' existence.
- Deep Cover Agent: the Howondalandian exile in Ankh-Morpork, a white woman working for the Zulus.
- Doctor's Orders: Ignored by Johanna, who re-breaks a broken arm in concluding a contract, much to Matron Igorina's acerbic displeasure.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Do not take the names of Discworld Gods in vain. At the very least it pisses off their representatives on Disc.
- Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Anthony N'Kima's ultimate fate. Paradoxically, as everyone knows, it makes him both useful and safe from further harm.
- Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: the weapon Johanna and Mr Mericet devise to take out a werecreature. As this would also be terminally and decisively lethal to Angua, Sam Vimes makes it abundantly clear any Assassin caught with one in future will be introduced to a world of pain.
- The Gods Must Be Lazy: Naturally. This is the Discworld.
- Her Boyfriend's Jacket: There's a scene where Assassin Johanna dons Wizard Ponder Stibbons' wizarding robes. Partly because they're warm, comfortable and smell slightly of Ponder. (a big plus in the early stages of a relationship). But mainly because she'd otherwise have had to answer the door naked.
- Heroic BSOD: Angua's reaction when she realises her own people engaged in systematic genocide to ensure werewolves were the only werecreatures on the Disc.
- Jerkass Gods: This is Discworld. What else could you expect?
- Mata Hari: Ruth N'Kweze is forced into this role. She is pivotal to the denouement of the story.
- Machete Mayhem: Johanna's Guild-approved (but only just) cultural weapon.
- Our Gods Are Greater: when the Gods of Howondaland turn up at Dunmanifestin, to protest against the perceived fact that there is little ethnic representation of anything other than white-skinned deities from the Central Continent. Offler is dismissed as a token Klatchian, and the other Gods demand their civil rights and an end to divine apartheid. The argument is resolved in the time-honoured manner with Fate adjudicating. But the Lady still gets to roll the dice...
- Our Werecreatures Are Different: The whole point of the story is this revelation: Werewolves are not the only shapeshifter race on the Disc, despite what they tell themselves. In fact, werewolves were originally one of several human tribes who practiced magic rituals that would unite humans with animal spirits to create shapeshifters who could transform by way of magical pelts left behind at the ritual's end. When a careful program of breeding between werewolves, humans and wolves (which neatly explains the existence of yennorks) resulted in the birth of the first natural shifter werewolves, the wolf tribe exploded in numbers and power, driving out or killing all of the other tribes. One tribe fled all the way to Howandaland, where they adapted their rituals to taking the forms of leopards and panthers. Now disguised as the Leopard Society, they have prospered in their homeland and are starting to secretly enter Ankh-Morpork. At the end of the fic, a vignette is shown depicting of the first ever wereleopard natural shifter, implying that the wereleopards will soon become a distinct race in much the same way as the werewolves once did.
- Panthera Awesome: the leopards. And the other sort. The black panther..
- Religious Bruiser: Hughnon Ridcully. And his big, burly, broken-nosed and cauliflower-eared Security Deacons.
- The Scottish Trope: the sub-plot concerning the play Felmet, Pretender King of Lancre, and the improbably terrible things that happen to actors who say the name in full.
- Secret Weapon: the anti-werecreature bomb devised by the Assassins' Guild.
- Shout-Out: to Tom Sharpe's farces of apartheid South Africa. Two of his chaotically incompetent policemen appear here in their Discworld incarnations: certifiably lunatic secret policeman Liutnant Verkramp and Sergeant de Kok. although de Kok gets a more sympathetic treatment, Verkramp is still the racist paranoid incompetent tumour of Sharpe's grimly funny creation. The challenge for Johanna and Ambassador van der Graaf is to prevent him making a bad situation far worse in a way guaranteed to draw trenchant sarcasm from Lord Vetinari.
- The Spymaster: Havelock Vetinari. Who else?
- Spy Versus Spy: The deranged Liutnant Verkramp of BOSS, versus the Witch-Finders and the Leopard Society.
- Staff of Authority: Hughnon Ridcully's crozier; Mustrum Ridcully's wizarding staff. Both have very large knobs on the end.
- Tongue-Tied: both Canon Clement N'Effabl and Ruth N'Kweze discover what is happening, but are bound to silence by a magical curse imposed by a native wizard. Both are Howondalandians and were indoctrinated from birth to realise exactly what it means when a Witch-Finder (native magic-user) points the bone at you. Not only potent "boffo" but deadly, on a world where magic is real. While Clement finds a way to finesse the curse and indirectly communicate the information, both need to be exorcised for the curse to be lifted. Then they can speak freely.
- Tracking Device: Mustrum Ridcully uses a magical version shortly before he subcontracts from Lord Downey to bring about an inhumation with prejudice.
- Ponder Stibbons also uses a thaumometer to pinpoint where the leopards are lurking in the shadows. As Johanna does not want to risk her man in a fight he is ill-prepared for, she hustles them out of danger.
- Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: the anti-werecreature inhumation device. It gets Johanna a place of her own in the informal Assassins' Hall of Fame in the Black Library.
- Whip It Good: Johanna's other culture-specific weapon.