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“I said, listen up!” yelled Atakus, slamming his sword into the metal table with a loud clang. The large group of Rock Agori in front of him plunged into dead silence. “Please, Atakus.” The owner of the factory, named Amicala, whispered. “Don’t be so harsh.” “You want the thieves caught?” said Atakus, quickly turning to face her. Amicala nodded weakly. Atakus turned around. “Last night, the specialized head coverings we were making for Agori and Glatorian disappeared. Or, if you prefer, the “hats”, as you prefer to call them, are gone. That means that somebody walked into this factory, took all of our hats, and made off with them.” “Perhaps to sell out to one of our competitors?” said one Agori innocently. “Nobody enters or leaves this factory without me knowing about it.” said Atakus, glaring at him. “And nobody entered or left this factory that isn’t in this room. That means…”Atakus gestured with the sword for emphasis, “one of you made off with them.” The Agori looked at each other nervously. “And that means that nobody is leaving this room until I know who did it.” Amicala looked heartbroken. “Atakus, the factory” she said. “Who will run it?” Atakus glared. “You want more things to be stolen?” Amicala shook her head no. “Then help me.” Seeing that no Agori were moving to confess, Atakus opened the only door to the room, let Amicala through, and slammed the door behind him. He locked it using the seven locks he had rigged especially for this occasion. “Is that really necessary?” Amicala said. “I am going to get to the bottom of this.” Atakus said, turning around and sighting down his sword, “and I will use any means possible to achieve my goal. Do I have to repeat myself five hundred times? I used to work for Stronius, and those days were glorious. Now my job is being threatened by a bunch of scarabax in Tajun!” A TV flared to life on the factory floor, “Today, Tajun’s Textiles, the number one source for Agori clothing and accessories, posted its third week of increasing profits.” A shot of Tajun’s fancy logo appeared on the screen, completely with some Agori partying. “Meanwhile, its leading competitor, Amicala’s Articles, posted its third week of losses.” Cut to a gloomy shot of Amicala’s factory. “Desperate, the Roxtus clothing manufacturer has turned to a desperate new innovation – the hat!” A concept drawing appeared on the screen just as Atakus smashed it. “Meanwhile,” another TV added, “the Chief Executive Agori of Tajun’s Textiles, Mentum, remains unconcerned.” The shot cut over to Mentum, who was seated on a plush chair no doubt purchased from his large cache of funds. Atakus tried to smash that screen, too, but Amicala blocked his way. “Tajun is already fully equipped to ride the new hat revolution.” Mentum smiled confidently, gesturing with his left hand. “Whereas Amicala’s hats are standard, boring, practical white things, Tajun’s upcoming line will offer hats in a wide variety of colors and designs.” Pictures of colorful, decorated hats floated by on the screen. “But’s that not all that we have to offer. Introducing the Hatpile™. Why just have one trendy design when you can have many? Show off any combination of your favorite styles. Only at Tajun’s Textiles. Your latest source for-“ Atakus jumped over Amicala, driving his sword into the screen. The energy in the sword hit the screen, crackling and hissing as Atakus pulled it out. “See?” Atakus raged, walking down to the factory floor. “We’re losing money, out-innovated, out-marketed” – Atakus gestured to a machine loom – “and our equipment is terrible. Tell me, why are their six pedals if there are only four directions?” Amicala gave him a blank look. Infuriated, Atakus kicked the machine. It sparked and clattered to pieces. He stomped past Amicala and back into the room with the Agori workers. “You” he said, gesturing to the Agori who had made the bright comment earlier, “will be fed to the Spikit.” Two Bone Hunters loyal to Atakus grabbed the Agori and hauled him kicking and screaming out of the room. Amicala grabbed a schedule and shoved it in Atakus’ face. “Palduk is innocent,” Amicala insisted. “He wasn’t even assigned to work that shift.” Atakus ignored her. “Anyone else who wants to steal anything will meet the same fate. Now get back to work.” Nobody moved. Atakus cut an Agori’s armor loose with his sword, the energies badly frying his skin. “NOW!” Everybody rushed to obey and ran out of the room. “That was easy.” he said to Amicala. Amicala looked at him. “That was awful. You’re fired.” Atakus turned around and pointed his sword at the Agori’s throat. “What did you say?” “Nothing.” whispered Amicala. “Nothing.” * * * Less than a half hour later, Atakus heard screams and the distant sound of munching. For a minute, he assumed it was merely the Spikit doing its pleasant work, but the sound persisted enough to be annoying. He got up from his post, muttering something about putting a blade through a certain Agori’s neck, and marched back into the factory. What he saw was a nightmare. Small white creatures, each with two stubby legs, and two grooved hands, were clinging to the Agori workers. They were eating their clothes. More of them littered the clothing piles, the threads, and everything in between. Atakus picked up one of the creatures, which was big enough to fit in the palm of his hand. “I was just in the middle of cooking socks for dinner, too.” it said, trying to get his attention. Atakus crushed the creature to death, and ran to the deserted section where the hats had been made. Sure enough, there was no thread, no cloth, and no sign of finished hats. Mystery solved. By the Great Beings. Atakus walked calmly back to the room with the TVs. He set his blade across the two destroyed screens, and ran into the room with six locks. The factory filled with electricity. The Agori workers slumped to the floor, the white creatures lay still. Atakus emerged from his hiding place, and picked up one of the creatures. It stirred, an idiotic smile on its face. Atakus smiled. While he didn’t know anything about making clothes, he had picked up a thing or two from Stronious on how to plan a raid. He quickly gathered up the little white creatures, and placed them in a metal box. Two Bone Hunters found him as he mounted his Spikit to leave. He had a special gift for Tajun’s Textiles. And thus the hat wars were lost to history. * * * My apologies to Sumiki. This work does not mean any insult to him and his hats. I hope to have a banner for this soon, but the competition I was doing this for left me on the clock. The phrases lent themselves to story concepts I wanted to try out, so that’s my excuse. Commentary and Criticism appreciated. I expect much criticism.