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Old Cleon’s Olives

This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2003, and appeared in this form (slightly expanded and adjusted for canon) in the January/February 2019 issue.

These are large olives, usually blue-green, but occasionally reaching into the purple-black range, which have been “hand-stuffed with love” (like it says right there on the label) with various extremely ‘hot’ peppers into a 2-liter jar, where they soak in a very up-scale, very ‘high-octane’ Vermouth for a year-and-a-day before being deemed ready for sale to the public.

While generally encountered sitting individually, skewered on a toothpick, in alcoholic drinks of one form or another, simply eating a few of these by themselves can have pretty marked effects on a sophont, stemming from both the alcohol and the capsaicinoids in the peppers.

The trademarked character on the jar’s label has a remarkable resemblance to Emperor Cleon I’s last official portrait: a grim-looking man with hair going grey at the temples and a prominent, heavy handlebar moustache, both worked in silver-leaf, wearing a fez and robes remarkably similar to the early Imperial Robes of Office, both worked in red crushed-velvet. The label’s overall design has a decidedly Solomani/Terran/Middle-Eastern theme, playing to legends (some call them allegations) that the Zhunastu dynasty originally had roots on Najd (A666AC9-F, Outer Rim, 0104).

An advisory along the bottom of the label warns the infirm, and those with ocular implants to avoid consuming this product entirely; a most vehement proscription further warns against attempting to drink the jar’s Vermouth. These warnings are routinely scoffed at and ignored, even though there have been a number of well-publicized deaths as a result of ‘chugging’ the Vermouth.