THE MINISTRY OF DIRTY TRICKS
All these years ago when it started, Duke was just one
of these overpaid, do anything, off-home-world
The planet administrators were little impressed when
he asked for a Council Meeting to propose a new
section for what he called dirty-tricks. What
happened at that meeting is now well written into the
"So, why do we need dirty-tricks?" said one of the
"Look," said Duke pointing to the clock on the wall.
Of course, their eyes went to the clock so they didn't
see Duke throw his water-bottle into they corner of
the room. It made a noise loud enough to make them
all jump and for the security-guys to reach towards
the well concealed tools of their trade.
"So what?" said the admin-guy. "Now we all know
"Yes, and I know where their weapons are," said
They gave Duke his section. Of course, it was small
at first but it became useful and grew strong as the
young planetary colony fought to survive its early
years of political intrigue, pirate incursions, unequal
trade deals, attempted coups and so on, the usual.
At first, Duke operated under gentle sounding cover
names. For a while he ran The Office for Planetary
Welfare then it grew into the Department for the
Protection of Planetary Welfare. However, any young
colony is pretty much a closed society and soon
everyone was just calling it the "Ministry of Dirty
Tricks." Then at one particular Council Meeting that
had followed on from a long and generous lunch,
they made it official. It was formally proposed,
seconded and agreed and on that day Duke became
the Minister of Dirty Tricks, for real.
In the years that followed, anything published by
Duke's ministry became a popular collectors' piece on
account of the banner heading. Any well
authenticated item bearing the heading "Ministry of
Dirty Tricks" could command a high price at auction.
Many thought this went a long way to explain how
Duke was becoming ever wealthier. Others thought it
might go only some little way to explaining his
success but knew it would really be best to keep such
thoughts to themselves.
So it was that concern grew back on the home world,
for Duke's power and influence were spreading
unchecked across the known occupied reaches of the
galaxy. An assassin was sent.
* * *
Jake knew well that would be assassins should take
extra care. But the ladies who worked as hostesses on
the deep-space transports were well known for their
discretion and it was a very long journey.
"It's OK," said the lady with the sky blue eyes and the
expensive perfume. Her smile was deep and
meaningful and conveyed an affectionate
appreciation for the over generous tip. "You can only
imagine how very discreet we can be here. She
poured another drink for Jake and then for herself and
then another for Jake."
It was not long before the drink was taking effect but
Jake was careful to say nothing of his mission.
"Time to go now," she said. Her sky blue eyes had a
beckoning look and her hand felt reassuringly firm on
"Wow!" said Jake as he stumbled to his feet. "That is
powerful stuff." He gestured broadly towards his last
glass, knocking it over.
"Don't worry, I know where you're going," she said as
they set off. Her words had a faraway quality as they
echoed down the now mostly empty passageways of
the deep-space transport.
And then they were there.
"So, this the way into your quarters? said Jake,
Turning, he saw a heavy door close behind him with
his companion still outside.
"Actually, it's an airlock," said the lady with the sky
blue eyes, the lady from the Ministry of Dirty Tricks.
The Ministry of Dirty Tricks
was published in 365 tomorrows
30 April 2012.