- The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia.
- The All-HQ AIRQ League belongs to agenttrojie
, and Trojie belongs to herself.
- “The Eye of Argon” belongs to Jim Theis.
- The fic being sporked is Dear Ambellina
. It belongs to Ambellina (yes, that is the writer’s pen name) and she can keep it. Eru knows, I don’t want it.
- LOTR belongs to Tolkien.
- Any “Wicked - the Musical
” references belong to Universal Pictures.
Warnings: Some strong language and violence.
Many thanks to the wonderful tea_fiend
, who did a great job of betaing this mission.
Having been informed that a few measly bruises and cuts meant they’d got off lightly compared to a lot of other Agents in the Mary Sue Invasion, Cassie and Nat had been kicked out of Medical by a rather irate Nurse. Giml was still a bit woozy, but didn’t appear to have any other problems (which was lucky, because the girls didn’t have any idea about how to treat a mini-Balrog’s injuries). Greenlead appeared to be the only one from RC #10 who’d come out of the Invasion completely unharmed.
On returning to their RC, the four of them had gone straight to sleep - and were somehow overlooked by the Legal Department for a while. Well, there were plenty of Agents who were being more obvious targets, after all.
“So what do you think of joining?” Cassie asked, sprawling on the floor and picking up her copy of an MST of “The Eye of Argon”. Nat sat down nearby, leaning back against the sofa and taking out a bottle of purple nail varnish. She examined her bitten-down fingernails for a moment, then shrugged and began painting them.
“It sounds a bit dangerous ta me,” she replied, but before she could elaborate on the risks of Australian Indoor-Rules Quiddich, she was cut off by a snort.
“Nat, a couple of days ago we were fighting for our lives against an army of ‘Sues, and you think a game
“Yes, quite frankly, I do. At least wi’ the ‘Sues ya weren’t as likely ta get whacked on the ‘ead by your own teammates.”
“Part of the fun.” Cassie flashed her a grin. “And the Department of Mary-Sues could do with some more players. The other teams are huge. Didn’t you look at that list Trojie sent us?”
“Well, I did. There’s only four teams around at the moment, and only two of them are big enough for the league. We should join. It’s our… um… Departmental duty!”
“I don’t even know anyone from our Department.”
“You’ll meet them, if we join the team. Pleeeeease?” Cassie tried the puppy-face that had occasionally worked before she joined the PPC. Apparently, it also had an effect on her partner, as Nat sighed and gave in.
“Good. I’ll send a message back sometime. Apparently two teams in a league makes for a rather short season.”
“’ow can there even be a season wi’ only two teams?” She finished with the nail varnish and put the bottle away.
“Best of three. I think the second match is due soon, as well.”
“Could we watch it?” Nat asked; she was still dubious about the whole idea. This question, however, got her a look which suggested that she had solid bone for a head.
“It’s played in the dark
Nat shrugged in acceptance, pulled out her Walkman from one of her pockets and put her headphones on. After a few moments of fiddling with the device, harsh music was blaring out. Cassie got up and headed over to the book cupboard, intending to find an old favourite, but never got that far.[BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!]
Changing direction mid-step, Cassie dashed over to the console and squealed with mixed panic and excitement. Nat just looked puzzled; she wasn’t sure if the sound was part of her music or not, and settled for a yell over what she could hear.
“Whassgoinon?” She turned down the volume in time to hear the reply.
“Our first mission!”
“Really?” Nat took her headphones off and came over to have a look, wincing at another [BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!]
Cassie fumbled for the button to acknowledge the mission, and managed to hit it before the console could beep a third time. “But we’ve not finished training yet -”
Another sound cut her off mid-sentence.[Bing.]
They watched the new message appear on the screen.[Yes, we are aware that neither of you are fully trained. However, you survived the Invasion, so you are deemed to have the necessary skills between you to cope. So get on with it.
And try to come back alive.
The Sunflower Official]
Cassie sat down - or, more accurately, flopped - in the nearest chair. “We’re dead.”
“Chicken,” Nat replied. “We may as well ‘ave a go. If things go a bit pear-shaped, we’ll -”
“End up dead.”
“- come back an’ tell ‘em we need more trainin’. The SO’s right. We survived the war, so we should be fine.”
“Says you,” was the heavily sarcastic retort.
“What’s that supposed ta mean?”
“Well, when the message came through about the invasion, who was the one that said, ‘Oh, no, let’s not fight ‘em, it’s too dangerous’?” She’d done a rather good impression of her partner’s voice, which seemed to irritate Nat all the more.
Nat turned red. “I did not!”
Cassie stood up to confront her, even though the disparity in their heights meant that she was looking up anyway. “You so bloody did! You didn’t even want to go and see if anyone needed help!”
“An’ look at where your idea of bein’ ‘elpful got us! Smack in the front line of the cnychn Massacre!”
“We got out alive, didn’t we?”
Fortunately, before the conversation (term used loosely) could deteriorate into Blazing-Row-leading-into-Not-Talking-To-Y
ou session I-Lost-Count, there was yet another [BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!]
from the console, which had decided that they had forgotten about the mission.
Cassie made a noise which managed to indicate disbelief, frustration and acceptance at the same time. She nudged Nat aside and hit the button which brought up the fic. She scanned the words on the screen. “Lord of the Rings. Middle-earth. Let’s get going.”
“’Ey, ‘ang on a minute. Details. Spill.” The argument had been dropped in favour of the mission and glaring at the console.
“It’s called ‘Dear Ambellina’ - which is also the author’s name, apparently. When Sauron was first coming into power -? Ohhhh, riiiiight… She’s talking about Mirkwood and Thranduil, so it’s the Second Age, not the First, which is when Sauron actually first came into power. The main character lives near Mirkwood… and she’s A WATER SPRITE?!” Cassie’s voice rose rather alarmingly at the end of the sentence. Her temper had returned in full force, though directed at a different target. “WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND THINKS THAT WATER SPRITES EXIST IN MIDDLE-EARTH? WHO?!”
“Okay, calm down! We’ll get the stuff an’ go! Just quit wi’ the shoutin’ already!” Nat had covered her ears, but was still wincing from the enraged shriek.
“Fine!” Cassie snapped. “But I’m going to do something really horrible to her!” Which “her” the infuriated agent was referring to was not specified, although, as she began rifling through the cupboards for weapons, ‘kriffing stupid authors’ and ‘Glaurunging Sues’ were mentioned, along with “arrogant little cow didn’t even label it AU”. Cassie’s vocabulary had expanded rather quickly on being exposed to other Agents during the Invasion and its aftermath.
Nat was also searching for weapons, trying to decide which ones would be canonically accurate enough.
“What are we goin’ ta go as?” the taller agent asked mildly, catching her partner’s attention. “We need ta blend in.”
“Take your pick. We’ll spend some time in Mordor, so probably Orcs’d be a good idea. Grab a notebook… pencil… oh, the charges are going to be fun
…” She didn’t sound very amused, though, and she seemed to be stuffing a few things into her pack with rather more force than strictly necessary.
“Should I get the sleepin’ bags?”
“I would if I were you.”
Nat shoved the two bed rolls into her fairly huge bag, zipped it, and started programming their disguises. “Are Orcs goin’ ta be in Mirkwood?”
“Not at that point, I don't think. Why?”
“Because that’s where the first chapter is.”
“We’ve got a disguise changer thingy. Just program us in as Mirkwood Elves for now and let’s get going.”
“Fine.” Nat had already proven herself more than competent with the technology during the training they had had, so Cassie let her get on with it. During the next few minutes, she ranted herself into a state of relative calm and finished packing her bag. Once that was finished, both agents went over to the console, bags in hand. “Are you two going to be okay here?” Cassie asked the minis. They nodded and curled up to go to sleep.
Nat hit a button and a portal opened in mid-air. The girls looked at each other and stepped through.
They landed in a forest, their disguises appearing as they did so. Nat looked herself and Cassie over. “Not bad,” she commented. Her accent was now the cultured British that seemed to be standard for movieverse LOTR Elves. “Do I look different?” Cassie examined her.
“A bit. You’ve got longer hair, for one thing, and it’s gone paler.” She pulled a lock of her own hair round to have a look. “Ugh. I’m still blonde. Obviously this writer’s never heard that Mirkwood Elves are meant to be dark
-haired.” She looked down at herself. “I feel taller, though. Okay, where did you put us?”
“Just before the messenger of Sauron turns up. So we should be somewhere near the village.”
True enough, a village had appeared nearby. Nobody appeared to be there. The pair set off towards it, Cassie already scribbling furiously in her notebook.
“First charge, having a blatantly self-insertish name. Second, having a really stupid name. Third, creating non-canonical races,” she muttered.
Nat shifted her pack and said, “You write the charge list, I’ll kill her.”
“Uh-uh, she’s mine.”
“No, you charge her. You can yell at her a lot and do some kicking.”
“I’ve already come up with several ways to get rid of her.”
“My favourite so far involves giant flesh-eating spiders.” Nat looked impressed.
“Tell you what, you charge her and pick how she dies, I do it for you. That way you get to watch.” Cassie’s mood immediately took a marked turn for the better.
They entered the Generic Village - “Four, lack of description and creating a Generic Village” was scribbled down hurriedly - and saw a peculiar sight.“Hail, Prise of the water Sprites and all this land. The Dark Lord sends his tidings.” The messenger bowed, ever the air of polite condescension. The Prise rested her arms upon the chair she was sitting in and raised one eyebrow, tilting her head.
“Right. Where was this chair meant to be, exactly?” Nat sniggered, as the chair was set in the middle of the village square.
“And how is someone meant to be
an air of polite condescension?” Cassie added, squinting at the Words. More notes went down on the pad in almost illegible handwriting. Nat pulled out her Character Analysis Device and pointed it at the Prise from their hiding spot just behind one of the houses. It beeped.[The Prise. Water Sprite. Non-canon. Bit character.]
“Does that mean we have to get her?”
“I think she gets killed off by the end of this chapter,” Cassie said, checking the Words again. “Yep, all the Sprites do. Check that guy.” Obligingly, Nat aimed the CAD at the messenger.[Messenger of Sauron. Species unknown. Non-canon. Bit character.]
“Chalk it up. Two kills to be made already.”
They watched for a while as the Prise - apparently the leader of the water Sprites - and the messenger talked. Neither speaker had any kind of description, so they were blurred and featureless.
There were more stifled giggles as the Prise appeared to turn into a mountain for a split second, courtesy of a lone but very bad description. Nat was much calmer about the whole thing than Cassie, whose muttered comments were growing angrier in tone again as she noted charges. The Prise suddenly sprouted long, dark hair as a rogue description turned up.
A few moments later, two indistinct figures appeared; a male Elf and a female… something humanoid, with Undescribed ‘Sue Beauty.The Princess stepped out of the Mirkwood prince’s embrace and knelt beside her mother.
“I will go, Mother,” the Princess said gently, taking her mother’s hand. The Prince gave a cry, shaking his fair head. “I will go, Legolas.”
Now identified, the Elf’s features instantly became those of Legolas, with a lovesick expression that was close to nauseating.“Ambellina…do you realize what you are undertaking?” The Prise asked, squeezing her daughter’s hand. Her knuckles had not yet regained their color from how hard she had been gripping her chair.
“I do.” Ambellina nodded, her raven waves rippling as she did so.
“Raven waves ripp - what
?” Cassie somehow managed to convey confusion, disbelief and fury through that one word as the bizarre description tried to manifest itself.
“Stay calm. Just stay calm. Here, have some Bleeprin.” Cassie quickly opened the bottle and swallowed several of the pills. Nat was finding the situation more amusing than annoying, but she restrained her grin as she checked the two new characters out with the CAD. It beeped and displayed the reading:[Ambellina. Water Sprite. Non-canon. Mary Sue.]
followed by a rather louder beep and the display:[Legolas Thranduilion. Elf male. Canon.]
After a quick fumble to mute the device, Nat put her Character Analysis Device away and took out the Canon Analysis Device, aiming it at Legolas.[Legolas Thranduilion. Elf male. Canon. OOC 36.783% and rising!]
She showed the readings to Cassie, who then scribbled down another charge with rather more energy than necessary.In his effort to appear as kind as he could make Sauron seem, the messenger nodded and left the room, standing beyond the outer door.
There was a jolt as the scene shifted to a nondescript room indoors. The two Agents froze as they were suddenly stuck in a room with the two non-canons and Legolas. Fortunately, all three were so wrapped up in self-pity that the girls went unnoticed.
There were several minutes of sappy, sickly conversation, during which Nat mentally noted that it would probably be a good idea to keep the sound on her CADs turned off in this fic. “I will come back to you, Legolas. If Sauron wanted to kill me, he would not take me from the forest to do so. He would have sent his armies, and his Ringwraiths. He aims to break me.” Ambellina stood, shaking off the hands of her mother and love, standing her full height and holding her head high. “I will go to this end, because it will save you all.”
Ambellina strode toward the outer door, and the messenger backed away as she opened it.
“Hey, hang on. She just said a couple of minutes ago that going would likely mean her death, and now she’s saying that it won’t?” Cassie didn’t expect much help from her partner in this regard, but she asked anyway.
“Okay, charge for lack of consistency. And Sauron has the Ringwraiths at this point, so we’re at least two-thirds of the way through the Second Age. Sauron’s already been defeated twice.”
“Lúthien kicked his butt back in the First Age, and the War of Sauron and the Elves was well over five hundred years ago. More confirmation that she’s screwing up the timeline.”
“She’s just clueless,” Nat commented as she led the way outside. Cassie nodded, glaring as Ambellina and the messenger rode off. Both the Prise and Legolas stood there, blank and unresponsive now the ‘Sue was gone.
“Better get them now,” muttered Cassie, pulling out her neuralyser and a pair of sunglasses from a pocket. Nat took her own sunglasses out and put them on as Cassie approached the two characters, suddenly a little nervous and starting to turn red on realising she was face to face with an actual Elf.
“Um, excuse me?”
They turned to look at her.
“Who are you?” Legolas asked, beginning to slide back into character now that Ambellina was out of the area.
“Um… nobody important.” Cassie began to fiddle with the neuralyser, then beckoned Nat over, looking rather sheepish.
Legolas watched, bemused, as the two Elves went into a huddle. He caught snatches of the muttered conversation -
“…which one was it?…”
“…ow, that was uncalled for…”
“…just get on with it, will you?”
- before the first Elf turned back to face him.
“Sorry about that,” she said, trying to sound confident and cheerful.
“What is going on?” he demanded, looking quite bewildered.
“If you just look at this stick here, any questions you have will be answered.”
With that, she pressed a switch. There was a flash and a strange whirring sound. Then she removed her sunglasses and said, “There you are. Now, go back home, take a nap and you’ll remember this all as a very strange dream. You’ve never heard of water Sprites or anyone called Ambellina. Bye, and um… good luck.” With that, she opened a portal back to Thranduil’s fortress and herded the mystified Elf through it, blushing furiously. As the portal closed, Cassie heard the sound of a sword being drawn and turned to see Nat cut down the Prise, who offered no resistance at all. Her good mood vanished.
“We could have just left her, you know.”
“Better safe than sorry,” Nat said defensively as she wiped the sword off. “We’d better get moving. Sauron’s sending an army.”
“Which is why we could have left her. She was going to be killed off anyway,” Cassie pointed out, an edge of annoyance creeping into her voice.
“Well, she’s dead now, so what are we going to do with her?” Nat nudged the dead Sprite with her foot.
“I’m not sure. Let’s just dump her in a river or something. Ooh. Mines of Moria - no, sod, that’s not happened yet. Umm... let’s go to Midgewater Marshes and chuck her in there.”
“On it.” Nat programmed the destination in and opened the portal. Cassie dragged the body through and found herself ankle deep in mud. This did not improve her temper in the slightest, as was attested to when she violently pushed the corpse into the nearest pool and then glared at her partner, who had followed.
“Thanks. I didn’t mean just dump us in the middle of the marshes as well.”
“How was I supposed to know?” was the reply. “I can’t see where we’re going to end up.” Cassie kept up the glare for a moment longer, then shrugged and began looking at the Words. After noting yet another charge with grim satisfaction, she turned back to her partner, who was trying to look totally unconcerned.
“We need to follow the ‘Sue. Can you get us to her without landing us in trouble?”
“I can try,” Nat snapped back. “Are there many blonde Elves around there?”
“No, they’re heading for Mordor
, you -” Cassie caught on and stopped suddenly. “Oh. We’re gonna need that dork thing.”
Nat smirked and held the device up, currently in the disguise of a pink toilet roll. “What shall we be, then?”
“Random Orcs, I guess.”
A few clicks and whirrs later, they looked each other up and down.
“You look gross,” Nat observed.
“Look who’s talking,” Cassie replied. “We’re meant to look gross.” Nat shrugged.
“You probably look worse.” She dodged Cassie’s half-hearted attempt to hit her and began fiddling with the Remote Activator, entering the command to home in on Ambellina. After a few moments, the glowing blue portal opened and they stepped through.
They were both knocked off their feet immediately by a chapter change. Grumbling and swearing under their breath, both Agents got to their feet and looked around. The rocks and trees had been compressed into ridiculous proportions, and a road had popped out of nowhere, along which Ambellina and the unnamed messenger of Sauron were riding.
“I don’t get it,” Nat said, looking around, after they had scrambled to hide behind a few trees and bushes. “What’s made everything so thin?”
“Look at the Words if you really want to know.” Nat tried this, but still couldn’t find an answer.
“I’m not seeing it.” Cassie sighed and began explaining in a rather patronising tone of voice.
“Well, the story says that the journey takes three days, right? This dimwit obviously can’t even be bothered to look at the map. From Mirkwood to Mordor - it’s the northern end of Mirkwood, which makes a difference of about four hundred miles - the journey would probably take a good month. So she’s had to compress everything into a smaller space to make the journey work out.”
“Oh. Well, are we going to follow them or not?”
“No, I’m not walking after them. Let’s portal to the Black Gate, and I’ll check for any charges we missed in the Words while we wait for them.”
Cassie spluttered in disbelief - an expression which looked rather amusing on her current face. “She’s made the Ash Mountains into a Glaurunging city
Nat was just bewildered. “What?”
“Do I look like Basil smegging Exposition? Look at the bloody map!” Cassie’s temper was getting dangerously close to ‘raging homicidal’.
The reason for this conversation was a misconception on the part of the author, who had claimed that Ambellina’s journey would take her past the “city of Ered Lithui” before coming to the Black Gate. Transforming an entire mountain range into a city had the effect of really annoying a PPC Agent who was already quite peeved.
“I want to kill her as soon as she gets within range.”
“Oh, no, you don’t. We need a full charge list.”
“Look, I have loads of charges, we don’t need any more!” Cassie waved the notebook, which already had nearly two pages filled.
“We need more. Sit down and have a nap or something.”
“No.” She’d just spotted the approaching horse and its two riders, and was already stringing her bow. Nat had to move quickly to prevent her from getting a shot off.
“Not until you calm down.”
“I don’t want to calm down, I want to kill her!”
“No.” Anybody nearby would have been rather surprised if they had wandered onto the scene. Two Orcs, one sitting on the other and holding her down, both arguing in hushed voices, was not a sight to be easily forgotten.
“She’s screwing things up!”
“I know. But no killing.”
Nat looked down at her partner. “Promise you won’t try to attack her.”
“I’m not promising anything.” Despite being squashed under Nat-as-an-Orc, Cassie was still being stubborn.
“Then I’m not moving.”
“Not until you promise.”
“Fine, what?” Cassie rolled her eyes.
“Fine, I promise not to attack her yet.”
“When we charge her, I’m going to kick her into the middle of -”
“All right. Not until then.”
“Okay.” Nat stood up and brushed herself off airily, while Cassie got up rather less gracefully, ranting about what she was going to do to Ambellina once they got hold of her. Once they had both sorted themselves out, Cassie looked around.
“So where are they, then?”
“Good question. I think they went past while I was trying to pin you down.”
“So you lost them.”
“Well, at least we know which way they were going.” Pulling out a bar of chocolate, Cassie set off towards the now-pointless Black Gate.
An unheralded scene change threw them smack into a stone wall.
“Ow.” Nat had hit the wall head first.
“Seconded.” The dazed pair took a few moments to gather their wits before looking around. They were in a simple stone room, with one window looking out over the vast and barren lands of Mordor
, according to the Words.
“Damn, damn, damn, she can see us,” Nat muttered, on seeing Ambellina kneeling in the middle of the room for no apparent reason. Fortunately, Sauron emerged from the shadows at that point and began telling her his plans in true Cliché Evil Overlord fashion.“I will start, Sprite, by chaining you as you see thus.” Sauron strode in front of his kneeling captive, pointing to the manacles on the wall and gesturing his servants to chain her there. Ambellina did not struggle, but lay limp in their arms, yet all the more uncooperative for it. “For three days, I shall neither feed nor water you, and I know that will tax your strength, as your kind depends most heavily on water.”
“Our kind depends most heavily on those we love, but you would know nothing of that, Sauron.” Ambellina choked the words out, biting her own lower lip hard.
“Do not utter that name!” He bellowed, turning to face her.
“Oh, so it is true then. The Great Lord Sauron cannot even bear to hear his own name,” she taunted, her blue eyes opening wide as he struck her across the face. The blood from her cut lip struck the stones with a wet-sounding smack, and she chuckled under her breath.
As their presence was now hidden by the nondescript servants, the Agents swapped comments quite unconcernedly.
“So is it only water Sprites who need water in Middle-earth, then?” Nat asked with an air of casual curiosity.
“Nope. She’s just trying to make a big deal out of it to make the readers feel sorry for her.”
“And - ouch. Are there any other lower lips she could have bitten?”
“If she went for one of the Orcs, possibly.”
“Yeah. I wouldn’t want her biting me, she might be contagious.”
“She might have Sue-berculosis.” Cassie stifled a giggle. She watched the scene for a few moments, and groaned.
“That doesn’t make any sense! Why would you taunt the person who’s got you in his power?”
“Cass, meet the Suefic. No logic needed.”
“Yes, but he just smacked her in the face, and she’s laughing. Would you be laughing if I split your lip?”
“No, I’d be giving you a black eye. Note that, in case you ever get the urge to hit me in the face.”
“Noted. Pay attention. I want to get some more charges.”
“Well, get them, then.”
“Hmph.” Cassie switched her attention back to the fic, where Sauron was taunting his prisoner by informing her that he had destroyed her people.
Nat suddenly got up, swearing quietly. “We didn’t get the messenger.” Cassie looked blankly up at her.
“The guy who brought that stupid girl here.”
“Oh. Well, we’d better go get him then. And I get to do the killing this time.”
“Okay. Now come on.” They stepped through the portal just before Sauron left the room.Part two following straight on