The Thirteenth Sect
by Charles Payseur
The First Tenant of the Art of Clowning states: laughter is the highest tool of peace. It is the principle on which the Great Clown College of Jester was formed and for which the Twelve Sects work tirelessly to spread laughter throughout the galaxy.
The College is quiet, though, censored by new laws pushed through by the Griffon Corporation. Laughter is too free and too freeing to exist unbound. Telling a joke is punishable by three years in suspended prison, laughing in public by two.
The First Tenant of the Secret Art of Clowning states: laughter is the highest tool of peace, but it can be a tool of war just as easily. The Thirteenth Sect, my sect, is the keeper of all eighty-five Tenants of the Secret Art. For we are the deadly arm of the Order of Clowns, the dreaded Clowninja.
My orders are waiting for me in the great hall, on a small stone table. Even now, in our darkest hour, I cannot simply walk in and take them. If any of the thirty Sentinel Clowns watching the room detects I am there, the task will fall to another and I will be forced into exile. But my disguise is perfect: a small potted palm tree with a bushy red wig and oversized red shoes. I shuffle to the table, retrieve the scroll, and leave the way I came.
In my ship I set a course for Griffon, the galactic headquarters-planet of the Corporation. I read the orders though I knew what they would be. I must get Roderick Griffon, CEOverlord of Griffon Corporation, to laugh during his announcement that he will be entering the race for President of Space. He cannot succeed. Already he has done too much damage. I need to stop him, and stop him in the only way that will ensure the new laws are repealed: by making him guilty of breaking them.
Security at the port is tight, especially on an occasion like this one, but it gives me no problem. I attach myself to a bus transport ferrying in a cadre of reporters. I disguise myself as a jukebox with no buttons except a bright red nose and slip through unnoticed. I am one with the bright places, blending into a display of balloons, a tapestry depicting the wars Griffon won to become so dominant. I watch, my eyes part of a river flowing on some alien moon, my mouth a massacre of blood and bone as I smile; no one suspects a thing.
Getting into the back is tricky. I wait for my moment, disguise myself as a small green pony with a glorious pink hat and follow one of the security personnel backstage. When we reach a room with two other soldiers I become a water cooler filled with grape drink and wait. The man I followed moves to sit, and I strike, throwing a shuriken-shaped whoopee cushion through the air to land directly under his descending buttocks. A wet-sounding fart erupts, and the two soldiers can't help but laugh. Immediately they cover their mouths, but the damage is done. They are pulled away, leaving the room empty.
The stage is filled with more soldiers, though. I can tell that there are also electronic surveillance devices everywhere, searching for irregular heat signatures, malicious thoughts. None can detect me, though. My mind is disciplined, would show anyone watching the scene of a kitchen, baking supplies strewn about, a small calzone singing opera. And I can control my heart, my breathing. I need to wait, but I am not idle.
In a few minutes I am ready, and begin my assault. One of the first things a Clowninja learns is how to make pie from anything. It always helps to have whipped cream on hand, and crusts can be made from paper, from boxes, from staplers. I unleash a barrage at the men and women on the stage and some members of the press. Cream splatters in all directions, and the laughs are instantaneous, loud guffaws that are quickly silenced.
Next I produce a dozen rubber balls, roughly the size of fists, and appear on the stage, the balls rising to life, juggled in dazzling loops and figure eights. Guards are rushing towards me, and in a flourish I divert all twelve balls outward. Most strike groins, causing groans and gasps and then deep, guilty laughter. Others fall directly under running feet, causing men and women to flail comically and tumble to the floor.
Roderick Griffon, though, is not laughing. I can see him gripping the podium, calling for order, calling for someone to arrest me, but already I have disguised myself as a portrait of one of the former CEOverlords wearing elegant white makeup and ridiculous false teeth, and I slip to the opposite side of the room.
Everything is chaos, which gives me time to place small devices in a number of pockets as I move. They start going off, popping in sprays of confetti that then burst into flame and quickly die. People are running, panic gripping them. I remain calm and watch Roderick. He looks more angry than amused, but I have one more trick left, the most potent of all Clowninja techniques.
I pull out a balloon and quickly inflate it, tie it off, and begin to sculpt. It takes only seconds for my vision to become mirrored in the twists of colorful, inflated rubber, and then I launch it. It floats gracefully above the confusion and panic, directly at Roderick.
I see him notice it. I see his brow furrow and eyes narrow as he tries to piece together what it is, as his mind recognizes it. His eyes widen. Never has a monkey been so imaginatively conceived in balloon form, grinning face and small body and absolutely ridiculous erection. Roderick laughs, face red, the wheezing sound like the bells of victory. Everyone in the room is laughing, even me, but when the police arrive to round everyone up to be taken to the station, they'll curiously overlook the lamp with the bright red vest and rainbow trousers.