Brenda Loringham was having a terrible day, and she was determined to complain about it. Not only had her new partner turned out to be a (former) Suethor, not only had the SO refused to assign her someone else, not only was she now forced to go on another mission with the Suethor, but now this. This.
It wasn’t as though she had planned it, either. She wouldn’t have chosen this, not in a million years. How was she supposed to complete a Lord of the Rings mission like this?
“Mraht,” Charlie Shoe said mournfully. She caught sight of the Sue, arched her back, and hissed. “Mrat.”
Brenda replied with an annoyed yowl. When Charlie paid her no heed, she tackled her partner. They rolled over and over in a tangle of eight paws and two tails.
Why had she left the translator in the RC? Oh, right, because she wasn’t supposed to need it. Of course, it didn’t really matter right now. She had claws; she had a Suethor. What more did she need?
The ear-splitting shrill of a CAD split the air, and the agents regretfully separated. Charlie lay on her side, panting, while Brenda staggered over to Charlie’s C-CAD and pawed at the mute button until the noise ceased. It both helped and hindered that the mute button was nearly the size of her paw now.
[Laiqualassiel. Elf/Nymph/Last nymph female. Mary-Sue. Last of her kind. Stop fighting and kill her.]
Brenda stared at it.
[Seriously,] the CAD continued. [Am I the only one paying attention?]
Brenda hissed at it.
[You missed a mini, by the way,] the CAD added. [Actually, you missed two. I took the liberty of looking them up on the adoption list. One of them has already been adopted; you’ll need to return it. Now, are you going to make a charge list, or must I do it for you?]
Brenda shook her front paws at the machine, and hissed. Charlie, now warily standing beside her, gave it an odd look, and erupted in a series of yowls that Brenda had no hope of understanding.
[Yes, I get it,] flashed across the CAD’s screen. [I’m just a machine, I’m not supposed to do this. Well, love you too, sweetheart. If you’d just do your jobs, I wouldn’t have to intervene and do them for you. Now pay attention.]
“Mrehnt,” Charlie replied.
[How are you planning on dealing with the horse, by the way?] the CAD asked. [For that matter, what are you going to do with the Sue? Scratch her to death?]
Brenda snarled happily, and unsheathed all four sets of claws. Charlie hurriedly sidled away from her; it looked odd on a cat, but Brenda was pleased to see her do it. Maybe she could scare the Suethor away completely if she tried hard enough…
[Oh, please.] The CAD managed to give the impression of being snappish without having a voice. [It worked in Monty Python, yes, but you’re not a bloodthirsty rabbit.]
No, Brenda thought, I’m a bloodthirsty agent-turned-cat.
The CAD considered for a few seconds, and then fresh letters scrolled across its screen. [I’m calling back-up.]
Brenda and Charlie yowled protests in unison. The CAD managed to radiate smugness.
[You need it. Alternatively, you need a D.O.R.K.S., which, of course, you don’t carry. I’m calling back-up.]
Brenda hissed and spat. Charlie looked as though she was seriously contemplating climbing a tree. The CAD ignored them both, and concentrated on reaching PPC HQ.
Far away and several dimensions to the side, past the wibbly-wobbly stuff, and far above the timey-wimey vortex, a console started to shrill.
“What?” Agent Edgar Sullivan demanded. The console responded with an even louder [BEEEEEEEP!] Edgar vaulted to his feet (alright, stumbled would be a more accurate description) and slapped the side of the console. “Shut up, you, or I’ll feed you to the minis like Brave Sir Robin’s minstrels.” The console [bip!]ed once more, rather sulkily, and then fell silent. The Disentangler sighed.
“Alright. What is it this time?” He reluctantly hit the accept mission button, and stared at the screen. “…what in the what-now?”
[Agent Edgar, help!] the screen read. [Disguises have gone horribly wrong. Portal to these coordinates and bring your D.O.R.K.S. Hurry.] The coordinates were recorded below. The note wasn’t signed.
“…what?” Edgar sighed. “Where’s my partner, anyway? Oh, right, still in Medical. Ugh. Guess I’ll have to go, assuming it’s not a trap. Wait, why am I talking to myself?” He facepalmed, and started to wander around his RC, gathering
nuts in May almonds in April supplies, occasionally stepping over Neinor the mini-Balrog and adding to the singe marks on his pants. Carrrot the mini-Luggage (newly adopted) snapped at him woefully from its secure place in one of the five corners of the room. “Yes, yes, I’ll be back soon. I hope. No idea why I’m being called, instead of an actual search-and-rescue team, though. I suppose it’s someone who knows me and doesn’t want to go through the bureaucracy, or something. Ugh. I hate when this happens.” He rummaged under his cot for several minutes, then turned to fix Carrrot with a stern gaze that was only belied by the badge pinned to his shirt that read, ‘We’re all mad here! Come for the insanity, stay for the tea. Join the society today!’ “Did you eat my CAD?”
Carrrot shuffled uneasily to one side, belched, and contrived to look guilty and rather sheepish.
Edgar facepalmed again. “Great. Just great.”
[Brave Sir Robin ran away!] something shrilled uneasily from somewhere under Carrrot’s lid. [Bravely ran away! Flesh wound! Get me a shrubbery! It’s only a model! Help!]
Edgar rolled his eyes. “Carrrot, try to spit out the CAD as soon as possible. Don’t you dare digest it completely. Neinor, be good. No charring the walls. If Agen____t’s let out of Medical while I’m out, do your best to keep zir in the RC unless ze gets a mission. Parameters of non-maiming, remember.” He slung his backpack over one shoulder, stopped, considered, and grabbed a working replica of Captain John Hart’s belt, complete with weapons. Just in case.
“Alright, fic, do your worst,” he muttered, and portalled in.
She’s speaking Grelvish, Charlie thought disdainfully. And she’s italicizing random lines. Not to mention she’s being careless with Frodo’s life…
Brenda, currently an irritable brown tabby cat, hissed beside her as the Grelvish gained intensity. Both agents yowled disgust as Rivendell became an “elfish city”, which resolved itself as something along the lines of a Generic Fantasy Castle, complete with a fancy wall and a fuzzily described gate.
Just as the Words launched them into a flashback, a blue portal opened and a black-clad, brunet human walked through. He promptly stumbled and fell, bumping into several trees along the way, as the setting changed abruptly to “outside of the Shire.” Brenda and Charlie stared, tabby and golden-white united for once in something besides hatred of the Sue.
What? Charlie thought, staring at the newcomer. Is that…?
“Gyah!” Edgar fought his way free of his backpack, tossing it and the weapons belt to the side. “What—why’s everything gone slanted?” He looked around wildly, and saw the cats. “What—no. No. I don’t do Warriors missions if I can avoid them, thanks all the same. No way. I didn’t sign up for this.”
The CAD shrilled. Two minis ran over to the agents, bouncing around Edgar excitedly. They eyed the cat-agents with interest; cats were neither something they had previously experienced nor something they had expected to.
Edgar frowned, and picked up the CAD. “What is this, a Warriors/LotR crossover? And where are—no, wait, why am I talking to myself again…”
[The agents are disguised as cats,] scrolled across the CAD’s screen. [Use the D.O.R.K.S. you brought with you to change them into something else. You did bring a D.O.R.K.S., right?]
Edgar stared. “…yeah, I brought a D.O.R.K.S. Since when are CADs this talkative?”
[Since it became necessary. Change the agents’ disguises. I’m sick of being yowled at.]
Edgar raised his eyebrows at the CAD, and then at the agents, but put the CAD down and started rummaging in his backpack for the D.O.R.K.S. Halfway through, he stopped to put on the belt, and then resumed.
“Alright,” he said at last, aiming the D.O.R.K.S. at Brenda and Charlie. “You two had better not be real cats; I don’t want to have to deal with Suddenly Human!Random!cats, thanks all the same.” He fiddled with several buttons (presumably), and the jammy dodger prrrp!ed and turned into a gun. Some more fiddling, and it prrrp!ed again and morphed into a porcelain cat figurine.
“Funny,” Edgar told it. “Very funny. Why is all of my equipment under the impression that it has a sense of humor?”
The two Assassins got to their feet, stumbling slightly.
“It is you!” Charlie exclaimed, shoving her wavy, blonde hair out of her face with relief. “Agent Edgar!”
Edgar got his first good look at the agents he had been called in to rescue, and looked rather pained. “Oh, it’s you two. What, can’t you stay out of trouble for more than ten minutes?”
“Hey, it was her Sue,” Brenda reminded him. “I was only there because I got bored waiting for you to take her out.”
“Oh, like it’s my fault it was a longfic and Charlie here was supposed to kill the Sue on her own?” Edgar retorted. “I don’t do assassinations, generally, anyway. I’m a Disentangler, not an Assassin, thanks all the same.”
Charlie winced. “Ugh, she’s got Arwen speaking Grelvish now! Can we kill her?” She picked up her CAD and shoved it into her bag, which had been lying nearby. The CAD shrilled in protest, and she pulled it out again. “What?”
[I have the charge list!] the CAD flashed. [You need me to know what to charge her with.]
“Better do it quickly,” Edgar advised. “We’ve nearly run out of Words.”
Brenda watched the Sue stand in front of a mirror and describe herself, and winced. “This is painful. Orcses hunted them? Go orcs. But half-elven and last of the nymphs don’t go together.”
“Not to mention that she only had one eye for a moment, there,” Charlie added. Edgar shuddered.
“Kill her,” the Disentangler recommended. “Terminate with extreme prejudice.”
Both DMS agents turned to eye him, considering.
“Hey, don’t look at me!” Edgar exclaimed. “I’m DIC. I don’t kill Sues. That’s your job.”
“You have weapons, though,” Brenda said.
“Cool weapons,” Charlie added. “Even if they’re not quite LotR canon.”
The Words ground to a halt, and the world froze.
“Quick, grab her!” Brenda suited actions to words, and tackled the Sue. “Alright, newbie, charge her.”
“Uh,” said Charlie. “Um, Laiqualassiel, alias Rhavaniel, I’m going to charge you with, uh…” she fumbled with the CAD, which remained infuriatingly blank.
“That’s how you’re going to do a charge list?” Edgar demanded. He rolled his eyes. “Alright, I’m doing it. I may as well teach you some procedure.”
“Hey, she’s my partner,” Brenda protested, momentarily forgetting that she didn’t particularly want that to be the case. “Even if she is a Suethor.”
“Former Suethor!” Charlie insisted.
Edgar rolled his eyes again. “Flaming Denethor, you’re still on about that? Alright. Listen, this is how you do it.” He turned to the Sue. “Laiqualassiel, alias Rhavaniel, I hereby arrest you under the authority vested in me by my status as an agent of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. Stand now, and hear your charges.” He paused, and looked at the half-Elf half-nymph; as Brenda had slammed her head against a handy wall, the Sue offered no protest. “Hm. Good. Laiqualassiel, you are charged with the following: bad spelling and grammar, being the last member of an uncanonical species while not even being completely of that species, making Arwen Elrondiel speak to you in the language known in the PPC as ‘Grelvish’, with creating at least two mini-Balrogs—”
“Six,” Charlie hissed at him.
“Six minis.” She brandished the CAD, which had finally decided to cooperate, and was now showing a list of the minis created or mentioned in the fic.
“Oh. Alright, you are charged with creating six mini-Balrogs. In addition to these crimes, you are charged with…hold on.” He turned to Charlie. “I’m out of charges. Have you got any more?”
“Uh, yes.” Charlie cleared her throat. “Laiqualassiel, I charge you with uncertainty about whether you’re writing a movieverse fic or a bookverse fic; with knowing Aragorn, the hobbits, and Gandalf; with making Gandalf call you ‘my Laiqualassiel’; with having Bilbo be excited about a nymph; with making Frodo show you around ‘hobbition’; and with throwing all those characters OOC. Brenda, have you got anything else?”
“Oh yes,” the senior Assassin said. She grinned, showing far too many teeth for Charlie’s comfort. “Laiqualassiel, I further charge you with having a name that mixes Sindarin and Quenya, with having a name that’s an inaccurately feminized version of Legolas’ name in Quenya, with giving Frodo modern English speech patterns, with making the Bruinen respond to Grelvish, with making the residents of Imladris OOC—seriously, you sleep for days and no one worries?—and, finally and most importantly, with being a Mary-Sue. The sentence is death. Goodbye.” She dazed the Sue again, and looked at Edgar. “Pass me that knife, will you?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of katana,” Edgar reminded her. “You sure you want to use it?”
“I’ve got a knife somewhere,” Charlie offered. “From the last mission.”
Brenda hesitated, then sighed. “Give it here.” Charlie dug it out and obeyed, and Brenda slit the Sue’s throat. Charlie winced, and Edgar looked away in disgust.
Around them, Rivendell returned to normal.
“That’s that, then,” Brenda said. She let the Sue’s body fall to the floor, and wiped Charlie’s knife on her elaborately described dress before returning it. “Now we just need to find a place to dump the body…”
“This is why I’m a Disentangler,” Edgar muttered. “Assassins always sound like criminals.”
“We do not,” Brenda retorted. “Newbie, get the body.”
“‘Newbie, get the body’?” Edgar repeated. “Oh, yes. Not at all like a criminal. You going to start talking about midnight getaways now?”
“Um,” said Charlie. “Listen, I—I have an idea for where to, to get rid of her.”
“Lead on, Macduff,” Edgar said. “This is getting boring.”
“Hey, no one’s keeping you here,” Brenda shot at him. “You can leave anytime you like.”
“Right,” Edgar said, and opened a portal. “Maybe I will. But don’t think I’m ever going to let you forget that I was called in to help by your CAD. Agen____t’ll get a laugh out of that…I think…” He stepped through the portal and disappeared.
“Right,” Brenda said. “What’s your idea, newbie?”
Charlie told her. Brenda sighed.
“Overused. Who cares. She’s a textbook Sue anyway, may as well have a clichéd disposal.”
And so it was that, with judicious application of several portals, the two agents fed Laiqualassiel to a group of orcs and went back to their RC.
Their RC, however, contained more living creatures than the expected mini-Balrog Caradharas. There, sitting in an armchair (left from Brenda’s last partner) was a young woman with light brown hair, sparkly orange nail polish, and the DMS potted cactus flashpatch sewn neatly to her black t-shirt with purple thread. Two mini-Balrogs were examining the RC; Caradharas bounced around, looking alternately at the woman and at the new minis.
“Hi!” the woman said, and grinned. She bounced to her feet, and nearly avoided colliding with Caradharas. Nearly. “Oww…nice mini. Down. There’s a good Balrog. I’m so glad I wear flame-retardant gear…anyway, hi! Agent Shoe, right? I’ve come to return your minis.”
“My—oh, you’re the agent I left them with! I was wondering how I was going to find you again. Glorfinel, Ectheleon, c’mere!” Charlie knelt on the RC’s floor and accepted enthusiastic tackle-hugs from her minis with care. Dawn grinned.
“I think you’ve forgotten to deal with the minis from your last mission,” Dawn told Brenda, and shrugged. “Or at least, I was told to remind you about them.”
Brenda swore, opened a portal, and jumped through it. Several minutes later, she came back, gasping for breath.
“I’ve sent them to OFUM,” she said in explanation. “Ok. Rest now.” And she collapsed in the armchair Dawn had vacated.
Predictably, the console chose that moment to [BEEEP!] loudly for their next mission…
Dawn examined the readout eagerly. “Ooh, this looks interesting! Well, I say interesting…Hey, can I come?”
“No!” Brenda exclaimed, while Charlie said, “Sure, if you like.”
“Great!” Dawn grinned at them both. “Let’s go!”
Brenda groaned, and let her head fall back against the armchair.
Such a bad day, she thought.
“I don’t know,” Dawn said cheerfully, “I’ve been having fun so far.”
Brenda glared at her. “Reading people’s thoughts isn’t polite,” she informed the other agent.
Dawn just grinned. “Oh, I didn’t read your thoughts. Reading my own story’s Words unsettles me. I just said that to unnerve you, since I knew ahead of time what you were going to be thinking.”
Charlie frowned at her. “That doesn’t make sense. How could you possibly—?”
“Didn’t I tell you?” Dawn tried to look innocent, and failed. “I know the author.”
“What?” Brenda and Charlie chorused.
“Yes,” Dawn continued, “she gives me NM&NMs, and occasionally organizes my RC while I’m out. It works out pretty well.”
She finished talking, and a portal appeared under her. She fell through it with a surprised yelp.
“Um,” Charlie said, and exchanged glances with Brenda. “That was…”
“Insane,” Brenda filled in. “Let’s forget it happened. What’s this new mission?”
Charlie examined the console. “It’s a Pirates of the Carribbean fic, with a Sue named…Rachelle?”
“Rachelle?” Brenda groaned. “Oh, yes, that makes perfect sense. Give Governor Swann’s adopted daughter a French name at a time when the French and the English were hardly on good terms…what?”
Charlie continued to look at her oddly. “How did you know that? There’s no way you could have read it from where you’re sitting.”
Brenda hesitated. “Plothole,” she said finally.
“Oh,” said Charlie, “I thought that might be it.”
“Really?” Brenda eyed her skeptically.
“Well, no,” Charlie said. “April Fools!”
“It’s the first?”
“Oh.” Brenda groaned. No wonder she’d had such a bad day…the Narrative Laws of Comedy couldn’t resist the opportunity to play tricks on her. No doubt that was how she and the Suethor had ended up disguised as cats rather than Elves…
Or, of course, that could have been a mere whim of the author’s, but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?
Happy April Fool’s Day!
A short epilogue:
As for Agent Edgar, he returned to his RC, where he found that Carrrot had spat up his CAD at long last. It was quite offended, and had to be shown several episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus before it calmed down. Edgar watched with it, and bemoaned the fact that all of his equipment seemed to have formed obsessions with the British comedy group…but he was appeased when Carrrot brought him a shrubbery.
Well, not really. April Fools!
(The shrubbery was actually for the CAD.)