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c5s_ppc_agents
From Arda With Love 
8th-Jun-2010 01:01 pm
Poisoned Lembas
Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. We are not them, but we do have permission to write in their world. The Lord of the Rings and other associated works, and all characters therein, belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. Bleach, and the character Ichigo Kurosaki, belong to Tite Kubo. Redwall belongs to Brian Jacques, though Kyran has never appeared in one of his books. Twilight belongs to Stephanie Meyer. All named Agents belong to us, and thus may not be used without our permission (we probably will give permission provided we're allowed to make sure you keep them in character, but you still need to ask). The fic up for killing, Ten, is owned by Colonel UnderRoo, and we don't want it. A big thank you to tea_fiend, lady_rilwen and neshomeh for betaing this mission. Fic excerpts are in bold.

This mission is set right at the beginning of September 2009.

Warnings: There is some violence due to the nature of the PPC, but nothing very graphic.

This mission is dedicated to Jerred Guillen, a good friend who died on the twenty-sixth of September. Rest in peace, man; we'll miss you. - KG, Spud, and Pigeon Army


The Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology's main lab was a very busy place; there'd never been a time that it hadn't been teeming with activity. Technicians bustled about, testing and creating, shouting orders, studying blueprints, and repairing arcane pieces of technology while blowing others sky-high. The whirring of machinery and clatter of tools were almost as loud as the voices chatting. Whether it was a request for something, demands that someone get back to work, a warning that a dangerous test was about to be run, techies shooting the breeze, or even the occasional cry for a medic, nobody seemed content to be silent. The whole thing could be best described as highly organised chaos, intended for one purpose: to manufacture, maintain, and invent the technology that allowed PPC Agents to do their jobs.

Miriam Collins found herself amid this organised chaos for a reason most Agents could identify with: her kit had gone berserk. Unusually, it was her Remote Activator that had been giving her trouble as of late. Ever since water had got in the wiring at Caradhras, the stupid thing had been glitching or even refusing to work entirely. At first it had just been minor hiccups, the occasional wrong portal or failure to start, but it seemed to get worse with every mission that passed.

The final straw had been a few hours ago, when it had portalled them to the beginning of the fic three times, and then took them on a scenic tour of Mirkwood after they had killed the Sue, before finally shutting down after nearly portalling them straight into a massive web. If it hadn't been for the fact that Cara's own RA was in perfect working order, they'd have become dinner for the local spiders, which had convinced Miriam to go down and get it fixed. Weaving around workbenches and Technicians, she searched the crowd, hoping to find someone with enough free time to help, before a deep voice spoke up behind her.

"Need something, Miri?"

Not many people were allowed to refer to her as "Miri," and she was half prepared to bite the newcomer's head off as she turned around. She cut off the rebuke she'd been about to make, however, when she found herself looking up at a very large, rather furry creature in a black jerkin.

"Hey, Kyran." Miriam couldn't help but smile a little; it wasn't a real surprise seeing the badger here, even if his war hammer was conspicuously absent, and she'd always enjoyed his company. Terry'd been quick to introduce the two in his excitement over being partnered with a genuine Redwall badger, and she got along with him rather well, though he'd seemed rather intimidating at first. "Actually, I was here for my remote activator. It's been really acting up, so I -"

"Let me see it," Kyran said, extending a paw. "I could use something to pick at, anyway."

Though she was annoyed at being interrupted, Miriam quickly handed the malfunctioning gadget over. She watched as he turned to his workbench and examined the remote activator.

"Acting up, you said? How so?"

Unlike her badger companion, Miriam wasn't particularly technologically inclined beyond what it took to get machinery to actually do stuff without blowing up, so she stumbled over how best to describe the problem. "It just stopped working, really. It's been going haywire for a while, and when it even opens a portal, the thing leads to the wrong place entirely."

Kyran thought about this for a second. "Sounds like a problem with the wiring, I'm guessing. I'll have to take it apart, fiddle with the insides a bit." Grabbing a screwdriver from the workbench, he gave Miriam a look and then nodded his head to a nearby seat. "This'll take... hm, about forty minutes, if I work quickly. Might want to make yourself comfortable, Miri."

The young Agent saw no reason to argue with him, so she simply pulled the chair closer and sat down as the honorary Technician began to immerse himself in his work. Of course, the lack of any consistent timekeeping in HQ meant that they had no idea how long it actually took, but the machine was eventually put back together, and Kyran assured her that it should be working just fine again.

"Thanks. Don't tell Terry about this, all right?"

"He never asks." The large beast shrugged. "He has been concerned about you these days, though; you should drop by some time, just so he knows you're all right."

"That's just like him," Miriam sighed. She knew her brother meant well, but sometimes it seemed like he thought she was still a kid. "Tell him I'll come over first time I get the chance, all right? I should probably get going before Cara assumes I've got lost again."

He nodded, and she turned to leave, but stopped when he called to her.

"I wanted to ask you to do me a favour," he said. "It was a request your partner made the other day; I could do it myself, but I don't think Stephanie knows me well enough."

"What's Steph got to do with it?" Miriam asked, suddenly curious about what favour could involve her partner's adopted daughter.

"You know she'll be three soon, right?" Kyran started fishing through his pocket for something. "Well, Cara wanted me to make some presents in advance, and I managed to throw this thing together." He produced a Canon Analysis Device, presenting it to the Assassin.

"I'm not sure I get it," she admitted as she took the CAD and looked it over. If it was fake, it was an almost ridiculously good copy; even the weight was right. "You're giving a CAD to a baby?"

"Close. It took me a while, but I managed to make an almost perfect replica; it's made from plastic so she can't hurt herself with it. I even figured out how to make it 'explode'."

"Uh, what?"

Instead of answering her, he took the fake CAD, pointed it at her, and pressed a button. After a few seconds, the toy let out a shrill beep and started flashing red, but then calmed down almost as quickly as it acted up.

"I wanted to get it to act realistically, but without hurting anyone," Kyran explained, practically radiating self-satisfaction as he handed the toy back. "That seemed a good enough compromise, to me."

"You know CADs do more than scream and blow up, right?" she asked. Despite her sarcastic tone, she was actually rather interested. "What else does it do?"

"Would you believe me if I said 'everything'?"

"Probably not."

"I didn't think you would," he admitted. "Anything a real CAD does, I tried to replicate, or at least make an equivalent to it. For example, I asked one of the other techs to help out with making a program for it to randomly generate results. Apparently you're Ichigo Kurosaki, and ninety-three point two-two-nine per cent OOC." The look Miriam gave him drew a sharp laugh from the badger, but he gave her shoulder a reassuring pat. "Trust me, you don't want to know what it said about me when we were testing it. Ah, but I don't want to bore you with more technical talk; Cara asked me to make the whole set, but I thought I'd send this one early, as a teaser. Would you mind dropping it off at the Nursery for me? Think of it as a favour for fixing your RA."

"Well, how can I refuse when you put it that way?" she teased, pocketing the replica CAD with a grin. "I'll see you around, then?"

"I'm sure we'll manage that somehow," Kyran said, returning her grin.

Miriam, satisfied with the answer, made for the exit. Before too long, she'd managed to work her way around the stray Technicians, workbenches, and experiments, and found herself back outside the Department; just as well, as the cacophony inside had been starting to give her a headache.

"Now, which way to the Nursery...?" Miriam asked herself, before completely ignoring her mental dialogue in favour of taking off in a random direction.

***

It took an hour, two detours through Bad Slash, and ending up in the Cafeteria four times despite taking four different routes, but Miriam eventually managed to find the Nursery entrance. Muttering a few choice words about the building's layout, she pushed the door open and strolled through. All visitors had to check in at the small office past the door, and Miriam was used to the procedure. She quickly caught the attention of one of the workers wandering around.

"Er, excuse me, I'm here to make a visit."

"Hello, there," the older woman replied. "Visit? All right then." She bustled over to the office and dug out a thick file and a pen. "All right. Who is it you're visiting?"

The sign-in process was quick, and Miriam was soon shown into the Nursery's main playroom. Children of various ages (including, oddly enough, a triceratops and a ferret) were engrossed in the type of activities one would expect to see in the nurseries of World One - painting, colouring, playing with water and plasticine - but the images being produced tended towards a slightly more violent character than World One nurseries would be used to. Of course, the fact that the children here tended to have Assassins, Floaters and other Action Agents for parents - biological or (more frequently) adopted - had some influence on this.

At a table nearby, a group of five or six children were squabbling over a box of crayons. Among the loudest was a small girl with wavy brown hair, who seemed fairly determined to get the yellow crayon off the little red-headed boy sitting next to her. Just as the yelling grew to a crescendo, the girl spotted Miriam and gave up the argument, choosing instead to get up and run over to the teenage Assassin with a huge smile.

"Miri!"

"Hey, Missy. How've you been?"

Normally, Miriam hated kids; they were incredibly annoying at best, and a complete nightmare at worst. In fact, in the past she had openly questioned how the Nursery workers could do their jobs without going flamethrower within a week. However, it hadn't taken long for her to develop a soft spot for Stephanie, and these days the Assassin held the bubbly girl as the one exception that proved the rule. She couldn't help but smile as the toddler bounded over to her, and messed up her hair a bit.

"I been great!" Stephanie beamed as she wrapped herself around Miriam's leg. "Unka William was here an' I showed him my pictures an' ev'rything." She looked up with a huge grin. "Can I show you?"

"Oh, I think Cara told me about that," Miriam replied, her hand still resting gently on Stephanie's head. She knew William fairly well, as he was Cara's former partner and current best friend, and had heard him mention it on one of his frequent visits. "Sure, I'll have a look; you've got me curious."

Stephanie, still with a huge smile on her face, detached herself from Miriam's leg, grabbed her hand and tugged her over to a set of drawers, one of which was clearly labelled "Stephanie Fielding". She opened the drawer and took out a few sheets of paper, most of which showed the same sort of image - Sues being killed in various messy ways. She handed them to Miriam with an expectant expression on her face. "I drawed them all," she announced, just to make the point very clear.

"I see that," the teenager said, leafing through the drawings handed to her. On the whole, they were rather crudely done, about average for a two-year-old she supposed, but they all got the point across rather nicely. "I see someone's been reading Discworld to you," she commented after reaching a picture of a Sue being trampled by trolls. "I guess this is what you want to do, when you're old enough?"

Stephanie gave her the kind of condescending look only a child knew how to give an ignorant grown-up. "Ev'ryone else's gonna do it," she pointed out. "An' Mummy does it, an' Unka William." She proudly indicated a little stick figure in a red outfit watching the trolls. "That one's me when I get grown up."

"Looks like you have the inventiveness for it, I guess." Miriam made the admission sound as if it were some huge concession, though she couldn't help but be amused by Stephanie's sheer eagerness; if her mother was anything to go by, she'd probably make a very good Assassin some day. She got to the last of the pictures and stacked them neatly back in the drawer, before starting a little theatrically, as if she'd just remembered something. "Oh, that's right. You know your mum's friend, Kyran? He knew your birthday was coming up, so he made something for you, wanna see it?"

A thoughtful little pout crossed the little girl's face as she tried to remember just who Kyran was, but the mention of "birthday" and "something for you" made her grin again, dismissing the matter. "Yeah!" She looked Miriam over, as if expecting to see whatever it was poking out of a pocket or something. The Assassin was already fishing the gift out before she could manage to get a good look. Stephanie looked fascinated as the young woman held a Canon Analysis Device in front of her.

"It's not a real one," Miriam said, "but he made it as close to the real thing as he could. It even weighs the same."

Stephanie's eyes grew wide. "Wow..." She took it very carefully, and then succumbed to a toddler's natural curiosity and pressed the buttons. The reaction wasn't exactly what she expected, though, and she shrieked and nearly dropped it as it started beeping wildly. Luckily, Miriam was quick enough to catch the toy before it was actually dropped, and held it in one hand while keeping Stephanie balanced with the other.

"Sorry, I probably should've told you that would happen." Miriam giggled a bit at Stephanie's reaction, and let go of the girl as soon as it looked like she wasn't about to fall over. "Anyway, do you like it?"

The little girl nodded, quickly regaining her composure. "Yeah, it's great!" She took the device again and spent a few seconds examining it, then gleefully launched herself at Miriam in a bear hug. She detached herself just as quickly and turned to a slightly older boy playing close by.

"Brad! Brad! Look what I got!"

"Huh?" Brad asked, and turned around to face Stephanie. When he saw the toy, the three-year-old looked suitably confused. "Tha's a CAD, Steffie. Didja nick 'un from a grown-up or something?"

"Nooo, 's mine," she replied smugly. "Miri gave it me so I'm like a grown-up."

The young boy was obviously impressed, and gave the CAD a tentative poke. "'s real?"

She giggled. "No, silly, 's not, not really real." Tempted, however, she pressed the button again with a little glance at Miriam. The device went off, and Stephanie beamed. "See?"

"Looks real, though," he said. "How's it do that?"

The little girl thought about it for a moment, but shrugged on failing to find an good explanation. "Grown-ups're clever like that 'n' they made it."

"Yeah, guess so," Brad admitted. If he had been about to say anything else, though, he cut himself off once he turned around and saw the young, black-haired man by the entrance. "Daddy!"

As the toddler dashed off to his father and launched himself at the man with enough force to nearly knock the red beret off his head, Miriam hid a smile and looked back down at Stephanie. "Friend of yours, Steph?"

"Yeah, yeah, we're friends an' 'is dad's an Agent an' kills Sues like you do."

"Ah, that's good," Miriam said. "Look, I have to go now; your mum's gonna flip if she ends up having to tackle a mission herself. You stay out of trouble, all right?"

"I always stay out o' trouble." Stephanie looked like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth as she hugged Miriam again and planted a little-girl kiss on the teenager's cheek. "An' thank you for the present."

"Don't worry about it. You take care, now." Her excuses made, Miriam gave Stephanie one last pat on the head and made her way out.

***

Whether because she was paying less attention or for some other reason, the Response Centre wasn't nearly as troublesome to find as the Nursery had been. After knocking on the door as a warning, and looking around carefully to make sure she wouldn't step on Moira, Miriam stepped through and made her way to the bookshelf. Once she'd picked a book, she took note of her partner, who was also busily reading.

"Sorry for the wait, Cara," she said as she pulled up her chair. "The RA took a while to fix, and then Kyran had me run an errand. I miss anything?"

"I spent a thrilling half-hour scrubbing soot off the walls after Moira had a flare-up, and since then I've been re-reading Morgoth's Ring. So not really, no." Cara sat up and looked down from her bunk at Miriam. "What errand was that?"

"Nothing too important." Miriam shrugged and sat down. "He said you asked him to make a toy Agent kit for Steph's birthday, and asked me to run the CAD down to the Nursery for him. Then, when I actually got there, Steph wouldn't let me go until she'd showed me all of her drawings."

This earned her a chuckle. "I'm not surprised. If she wasn't planning on being a Sue-killer, she'd be an artist, I bet. Did she show you the troll one?"

"Yeah, she did. Too bad we don't have a Department of Artists, huh?" the younger Agent replied, and then put her legs up on the table as she opened her book.

[BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!]

"I should've known that'd happen," Miriam sighed as she put the paperback down and swung her legs off the table to push herself up. She'd already made her way to the Console by the time her partner was getting down from the top bunk, and quickly brought up the fic report, which drew a raised eyebrow from her. "Huh, it says it's both movieverse and an AU. Can we do AUs?"

"If it's a Sue, then yes, I'd say so." Cara jumped the last couple of steps and reached for her knife. "What's the problem with this one, then?"

"It's a Suefic; what d'you think is wrong with it?" Miriam replied, before she grabbed her sword. "Complete character distortion, a fifteen-year-old being made a bloody heir of Rohan, and I think the Suethor's sending her after Aragorn."

"She's sending her after who?" Cara's voice suddenly became dangerous. "Get us in there." She grabbed her rucksack and shrugged it on as quickly as she could. "If we have to face this one, I'm not sitting around."

"You sure you've got all your kit?" Miriam still remembered the chewing-out they'd got the one time they'd almost forgotten to neuralyse the canons.

"Yeah, it's all here. Yours?"

"Just let me grab my notepad, and I'm set." Once the pen and notepad were in hand, and Miriam had got her own rucksack on, she set the disguises - a pair of Rohirric soldiers - and opened a portal. "I've got my D.O.R.K.S if we need it; looks like one where we'll have to switch up a bit. Ready?"

Cara tossed her knife, caught it again with ease and slipped it into its sheath. "Ready," she replied, her tone cold. "This bitch is mine." She stepped through the portal, looking like she was ready to rip something apart. Miriam elected to follow her through the portal without argument, dropping in behind her partner just as the Author's Note started to fade from hearing. Once the actual story got started, the Agents found themselves in one of Meduseld's halls as the author provided exposition over the current scene, a party celebrating the Sue becoming one of Rohan's heirs. Apparently, Denethor sent her on some sort of diplomatic mission, and the Sue had spent the past eighteen months living in Rohan accordingly, along with griping about Boromir being her father's favourite.

"Brilliant, first paragraph and she's already getting everything wrong." Miriam rolled her eyes, and began to jot down charges as the chapter started.

Cara glanced over the fic, and shrugged. "Not quite the first paragraph. Rohan wasn't the most complicated country. But... Callimir? Come off it. And she's how old?" The older woman gaped at the fifteen-year-old girl standing in Meduseld in a crowd of warriors. "She's Gondorian, right? They'd still practically consider her a kid at fifteen, and they definitely wouldn't be sending anyone that age off on important missions!"

"I did warn you," was the only reply she got, at first. "Sadly, I wasn't kidding about the 'heir to Rohan' bit. I mean, come on; there's no way something like this would happen in just a year, especially not when there's already a bloody heir. And I'd think it'd be a lot simpler for Denethor to just... great, I'm trying to apply logic to a Suefic again, aren't I?"

"Yes. Yes, you are. Knock it off." Cara looked at the Words again, and sighed. "And I just love seeing Denethor being made into an oh-so-mean father who only has eyes for Boromir. If that were the case he'd have sent him to spy on Rohan." She kept one hand on her knife hilt, her other hand being occupied with the beard that the disguise had given her. "This thing bloody itches."

"They really do," Miriam agreed, as she herself was idly scratching at her new facial hair. She wasn't sure if she'd ever get entirely used to male disguises. "I don't know how guys can stand it. Denethor's been treated worse, though; remember the one that made him even worse than Sauron? This party's going to go on for a bit, so we should probably make ourselves comfortable. At least brace ourselves for the location switch."

"Sounds good," Cara agreed, though she made a face at the little royal family group into which Callimir had just been welcomed. "Stupid people, you don't just accept anyone as another heir to the throne. Especially not from another country!"

"Not unless it was a political marriage," the younger Agent pointed out. "Even then, though, it wouldn't be done this quickly. It would take time, y'know? For everyone to adjust and get to trust each other and the like. But I guess it wouldn't be a Suefic if they actually researched how this kind of thing works. Wait, did she just call them 'Rohanians'?"

Cara's eyes narrowed. "It is not that difficult to remember the name for them. They're not Rohans, or Rohanians, or anything like that, they're Rohirrim! ...Ooops." She dived behind a pillar upon realising she'd spoken too loudly and attracted attention. Miriam wasn't too far behind her. Once the fic had started going about its normal course again, Miriam cautiously looked around the pillars to observe the Sue.

"You might want to get your D.O.R.K.S. ready," she whispered. "It's gonna dump us in Gondor before long." The older Agent nodded and produced the device, currently in the shape of a very small handbag. After several moments of fumbling with the unseen controls, she nodded.

"Soon as the scene changes, we can."

The Sue was randomly accosted by one of the Gondorian guards she claimed Denethor had demanded she keep around, who insisted she return to Gondor on her father's orders. "Oh, goody, plot contrivance strikes again."

"Hey, think about it this way: without it, we'd be without a j- ACK!"

The scene change hit abruptly, and threw them both unceremoniously on the floor of Minas Tirith's throne room just as their D.O.R.K.S. was changing their disguise. Luckily, Denethor and the Sue were too busy arguing to notice two Gondorian soldiers being tossed to the ground behind them. After she managed to get up and help her partner to her feet, Miriam rubbed her head and looked around for somewhere they could hide themselves.

"I really wish they'd stop doing that."

"So do I." Cara clearly wasn't talking about the scene shift, though, considering she was directing a filthy glare at Denethor, who had just told Faramir to shut up for standing up for his uncanonical younger sister. "And this whole bloody plotline makes no sense! Rohan and Gondor never would have gone to war!"

"Not like there was any time, even if they wanted to. Sauron would've overwhelmed them both while they were fighting each other." Miriam nodded, and scowled at the Sue's back as Denethor began talking about sending Boromir to get the Ring from Rivendell.

The conversation between the Sue, Denethor, and Boromir continued about as normally as a Suefic could get, at first, but soon took a turn for the worse. Miriam gaped, trying to form the right words.

"Did... did she just suggest that she could seduce Elrond? At fifteen?!"

"Miriam?" Cara's expression was worryingly steady.

"Yes?"

"If I look like I'm about to break cover and strangle her, let me know, will you?"

"Okay, you look like you're about to break cover and strangle her. How's that?"

"Thanks." Cara very carefully removed the helmet that was part of her current disguise, made sure nobody else was watching, and thunked her forehead against a stone pillar. "Ow."

"You really need to stop doing that, you know."

"It's my version of therapy. 's cheaper."

"Well, here in the sane world we call that 'giving yourself a concussion'. If you end up cracking your skull open, I'm not dragging you up to Doc Fitz."

"Relax, I've been doing it for ages, I know how hard to hit... hang on, where's she going?"

The Sue was on her way out of the room, having been finishing up the argument with the rest of her family while the Agents discussed concussion. A quick scan of the Words showed that she was off to the armoury to prepare for her trip to Rivendell, and that they were all but at the end of the chapter anyway. Uninclined to be sent flying again, Miriam pulled out her remote activator and dialled up a portal to the start of the next, and gave a little cheer when the blue doorway opened up without any problems.

"Don't know about you," she said, "but I'd rather get to Rivendell the easy way. Gonna need to turn into Elves when we get there; you got it set?"

"You could try giving me some advance warning before asking me if the disguises are ready," Cara replied mildly as she began poking at the device again. "Okay, prepare to go Elvish." A flash of light and a few sci-fi-ish sounds later, two Elves were stepping into the main courtyard of Rivendell. The slightly taller one glanced around and spotted their quarry nearby with her brother, along with another, depressingly familiar canon character.

"You know, I'm trying to remember if there's even one fic I've ever seen without Lord Elrond in it. What is everyone's deal with him?"

"Hugo Weaving, probably." Miriam shrugged, but cut herself off when Elrond questioned the Sue's presence. "Oh, and he seems to be immune to Suefluence. Come on, that's just awesome."

"Yep. Some people think it's because of his Ring, y'know. The Sues never know he has it, so they don't try to counter it." Cara beamed.

"Makes more sense than some other theories I've heard."

Unfortunately, Elrond chose to admit the Sue, and led both Callimir and Boromir to the Council without further questioning. Neither of the two canons noticed them, so the Agents were able to follow behind and transition into the obligatory Council scene much more smoothly. The Council went as standard movieverse dictated, though Cara and Miriam paid more attention to a game of Egyptian Rat-Screw, grumbling about the Sue, and the older Agent's reminiscing about her days in OFUM. Every so often, one of them would look up briefly to check on the fic, but on the whole they decided that at the moment it wasn't really worth paying attention to.

"I don't think you ever said; just what got you signed up to that school, anyway?" Miriam asked as she shuffled the deck, preparing another round while Gimli failed to destroy the Ring with his axe.

"Really? I'm sure I mentioned it a while back." Cara's expression grew slightly pensive. "I... ehm... wrote a Suefic."

"You wrote a Suefic? Miss Canon Obsessive herself?" Miriam nearly laughed.

"Shut up," Cara muttered, turning a bit red at the memory. "Yeah, I was obsessed back then, too, but in all the wrong ways. 's a good thing they made me sign up."

"So, what happened? Shipped yourself with Aragorn and put Arwen on a bus?"

The blush grew more pronounced. "How'd you guess?"

"Not like it's hard," the teenager replied. "I mean, you lust after him now; I'm not sure if I want to know how bad it was back then. Looks like you're one of the ones that actually learned from it, though."

"Well, yeah. Though to be perfectly honest, I was a bit old compared to most of them. Old enough to want to know better, anyway." Cara giggled a little.

"Always a plus," Miriam agreed. The two played in silence for a time, before Merry and Pippin showed up to join the others who had volunteered to accompany Frodo. Both Agents had expected it, but the event still drew a sigh from Miriam. "All right, guess we're going to have to pack this up. Unless you want to chase the deck all over the place again."

"No, thanks." Cara tucked the cards away and turned her attention to the scene, just in time to see the Sue "stand from her chair" and sneak out to go and sulk over Boromir's joining the Fellowship.

The next few hours proved to be fairly dull. At Cara's urging, Miriam extended the charge list a bit, and then both Agents wandered around Rivendell, which allowed the older Agent to take a few snapshots of Aragorn whenever they happened to cross his path.

The camera went away, however, when Callimir turned up and got Aragorn to lead her to the kitchens. On the way, Aragorn revealed his apparent ability to read minds by stating out of the blue that the Sue did not like him. She, of course, managed to change the subject to why he should feel sorry for her because she was being left behind.

Both Agents were getting a lot of practice in eyerolling.

After the little discussion that followed when Callimir ran across Elrond and persuaded him to consider letting her join the Fellowship, however, Cara had had enough. "Sod this. Let's get some sleep."

"We can't," Miriam replied. "I don't think enough time passes between the chapters, we'd miss the whole thing."

"Hm?" Cara peered at the Words and sighed. "Oh, all right then. I want to get some sleep at some point during this fic, though."

"Wouldn't be a bad idea, once we've got time."

The matter settled for now, the two Agents followed after the Sue, and used the Words to track Callimir's exchange with her brother. Neither of them considered this ideal, and they were soon distracting each other with small-talk again. They had almost nothing in common beyond being Tolkien fanatics, but that was to be expected in this line of work. Lack of common ground aside, the chatter proved a great distraction, and Miriam almost failed to notice when the Sue came out of her room and walked right past them.

Luckily, Cara was quicker on the uptake and tugged her partner after Callimir, whose feet were now apparently capable of independent thought. They ended up by the "horse stables", though apparently Rivendell's usual inhabitants didn't own horses, as the only inhabitant of said stables was a mare that the Sue began petting.

"You know, something about this author's suggesting that she's trying to hint that she's horse-mad," Cara commented. "Every time she mentions a horse she has to go into detail about it." She watched Legolas's approach without commenting, except to splutter at the Elf's words.

“There is nothing to forgive, young one. Areo appreciates company. I’m afraid I am far too busy these days to give him the care and attention she deserves. But tell me, why are you wandering?”

"Firstly, what did he just call it, and secondly, did he just genderswitch it halfway through that sentence?!"

"He did. I don't think the Word World noticed though; it was just one bit. Er, pun not intended."

"Oh, ha, ha, ha," Cara replied drily. "Areo. Please. That doesn't appear anywhere in the languages of Middle-earth, it sounds more like a chocolate bar!"

"Really? First thing I thought of was an Oreo cookie." Miriam shrugged. Ahead of them, Legolas and the Sue continued their conversation, which gave the Agents even more eyerolling practice, especially once the Elf convinced Callimir to vent at him. "Wasn't the fic bad enough without the obligatory wangst? Don't answer that, Cara. Anyway, you'd think the Suethor were going after Legolas, the way this is written."

"I'd be less inclined to rip her throat out if she was," Cara muttered darkly. "This combination of 'wah, my daddy doesn't love me' and the fact that she's Glaurunging fifteen is really irritating me." She watched without a shred of sympathy as the Sue ran off to her room to cry once Legolas had offered to be sympathetic if she needed it.

The Author's Notes, however, made her snigger. "I was right, as well. She named the poor horse after an Aero bar."

Miriam shrugged again. "I didn't even know there was such a thing." As the Author's Note claimed that reviews were appreciated, and faded to nothing as the chapter drew to a close, she sneered a little. "Oh, we'll give you a 'review' all right. A pointed one." Cara gave her a Look, and the younger Agent shrank back. "Er, you will, I mean."

"Thank you."

The next chapter started a bit jarringly, as there wasn't any formatting to separate the Author's Note from the actual fic, but both Cara and Miriam were able to right themselves quickly enough. This time, the chapter started almost exactly where the last had left off, but hours later.

As Boromir returned from the ride he'd been on earlier, the Agents kept to the shadows and watched. He spotted Callimir and, after giving her an apology, declared that he'd support her if Elrond did. This made Cara snort in disbelief, but a glance ahead in the chapter made her reach for her RA.

"I don't fancy sitting through a flashback designed to show her up as a bratty little six-year-old. Portal?"

"Thought you'd never ask."

For once, Cara chose not to pass comment on Miriam's lack of complaint, and just opened a portal to the flashback's end. Fortunately, this also turned out to nearly be the chapter's end, as the Agents discovered upon emerging from the blue doorway. Up ahead, Boromir was just wrapping up his recitation of the lengthy flashback, while Callimir grinned up at him; at this point, the Word World, by this point beginning to get confused by the awkward phrasing, twisted the description of her smile enough that Callimir's face briefly morphed into that of her six-year-old self. Otherwise, the end of the chapter seemed fairly uneventful, so Miriam cast her partner a glance.

"Say, are chapter-long flashbacks a charge? Or would I be in trouble if I put it in? It's annoying when they do that."

"Technically, it's not a charge; flashbacks can be done well, but if they're just annoying we can always put down everyone's favourite charge and count that as part of it." Cara shrugged, and then pulled a face at the scene that the fic proceeded to dump them into.

Callimir was apparently in an open park in the shade, but at the same time relaxing in the sunshine. Quite apart from the fact that Rivendell did not contain any "open parks", the flickering as the story tried to reconcile the Sue being in the shade and the sunshine at the same time was peculiarly painful on the eyes, even the Elven eyes that the Agents' disguises had given them.

"Ow." Cara squinted and looked away. Next to her, Miriam was cursing under her breath and blinking rapidly, while the Sue and a young Elf girl conversed, oblivious to the Word World's confused flickering. As they began to work on a daisy chain, and the Sue revealed that she knew Sindarin and Quenya, the light finally settled in a way that made the weather appear more overcast than anything. The Agents, however, would have preferred it before it was settled; painful though it might have been, it was still an excuse to try to ignore the fic.

"'Farah'?" Miriam asked a few moments later. She looked about as incredulous as she sounded. "Why the Glaurunging hell is she making up cutesy bloody nicknames for the canons?"

"Because they're her brothers, of course." Cara sighed. "Didn't you ever hear of that? If a grown man has a younger sister, she has to make up cute nicknames for him just to show how much she utterly adores him."

She leaned against a nearby tree, resisting the urge to roll her eyes again as the Elf child - Calenel - told Callimir that her brothers didn't believe in the existence of teenage Gondorian females. "So... where exactly do they think they get more Gondorians from?" the Agent commented sarcastically. "No, never mind, I don't want to know."

Legolas arrived just as the little Elf put the daisy chain on the Sue's head. After the obligatory pleasantries, and a show of false-modesty on the Sue's part, he mentioned that he was off to practice with his swords and, of course, invited Callimir to spar with him. However, the Sue didn't seem all that keen on it at first, and asked if Legolas really meant to spar with a child.

Cara blinked. Then she blinked again. "Can I be hearing this right? Is she asking a logical question?" Unfortunately, the Sue agreed to spar almost before the question left Cara's mouth, which drew a disappointed sigh from the Assassin. "Never mind."

"You really should've expected that," Miriam said. "Come on, we should keep up with her."

Cara nodded, and the Assassins set off after Callimir and Legolas. Before long, a Generic Building appeared nearby, which Legolas and the Sue seemed intent on using for their practice. Cara and Miriam were quick to follow, but barely reached the practice room before the fic abruptly transitioned into another flashback. There hadn't been any time to fire up the D.O.R.K.S., but neither Faramir nor the young Sue seemed to notice the pair of female Elves watching them train, which left them free to grumble about the fic's events and, in Miriam's case, update the charge list.

The younger Agent took particular umbrage at the idea of Faramir and Callimir (or "Farah and Alla", as the Suethor insisted on calling them) sparring with live steel, and proceeded to spend most of the flashback ranting about medieval training methods. She went into particular detail about why people used wooden "wasters" instead of practising with the actual weapons. She would probably have continued in that vein for most of the flashback, had Boromir and Denethor not entered the room. Cara had to shut Miriam up before either her ranting or fuming at Boromir's nickname of "Brom" drew unwanted attention.

"All right, point taken," the older woman hissed, nudging her partner in the side. "Tell me later, okay?"

Miriam nodded. "This is just bloody stupid," she finally whispered, careful not to let the canons nearby hear her. "I mean, come on. 'Brom'?!"

"There's rules about nicknames in this canon," Cara agreed. "Mostly that you don't go giving dignified heroes the kind of nicknames that sound like kids' programme characters! Oooh, I almost wish I could slap this author..."

"Don't we all?" Miriam asked. "Hopefully it won't be too long before we can kill this. Oh, flashback's ending, might want to hold onto something."

"Her throat'd be choice," was the muttered reply, as the Assassin's eyes fixed unblinkingly on the uncharacteristically blazing mad Denethor. "I loathe people who go off the way he acted in the movie... he was not a bully, and he would not -" She cut herself off, her expression suddenly deadly and her voice a muted snarl, as the Words inferred that Denethor was dragging Faramir off to have him whipped. "Miriam, pin me down or something now before I rip this bitch's throat out."

"No time," was all her partner managed to get out before they were jerked back into the fic's present. As Legolas brought Callimir out of her reminiscing, Cara tried to rush into the room and lunge for the Sue's throat, and was barely stopped in time by Miriam's quick reaction, as the younger woman hooked her arms from behind and pulled her back out of the doorway. While Legolas and Callimir sparred, the two Agents grappled just outside the room, unheard over the clashing of steel.

Though Cara was the more experienced Assassin, and physically stronger, a jerk to the side and a well-timed sweep of the leg allowed Miriam to bring her to the floor with a thud. With Miriam on her back and still controlling her arms, using her hands to grip the back of Cara's head, there wasn't much the older Assassin could do to break free, but she certainly made an effort. The two struggled on the floor until Boromir had turned up and hauled the Sue off.

"Okay then," Miriam whispered, after she'd cast a look around to make sure they hadn't caught any unwanted attention. "Are you going to stop moving for two bloody seconds so we can follow them, or do I have to bash your head against the floor a few times?"

Cara snarled a few very uncomplimentary things regarding the Suethor's probable parentage, but relaxed. "All right, you can let me up." Once Miriam had backed off carefully, the older Agent got to her feet, hands clenching and unclenching rhythmically. "Did we decide on a kill point yet?"

"We didn't," Miriam said. "I think I have an idea for one, though, even if you didn't exactly give me a chance to get a good look. Anyway, think you can sit through three or four more chapters of this?"

"Fine. But I'm warning you, Miriam, if there are any more flashbacks like that, I'm ripping her apart. Nobody gets away with making Lord Denethor into an abusive father. Capiche?" Cara checked her weapons with an ominous look on her face. It was clear she was trying to think up a painful enough death for Callimir.

"Er, funny you should say that," Miriam started, only to hold her hands up when Cara glanced at her. "Hey, let me finish. The next chapter starts with a flashback, right where this one left off. I could portal past it, but it'd mean skipping most of the next chapter."

Cara considered this. At least, it looked like she was considering it. Then she smiled. The smile combined with the rest of her expression was somewhat unnerving, especially when seen on an Elf. "Yes, portal past it, unless you want me to rearrange our schedule for offing her."

"The SO's not gonna like this, you know."

"Well, if that sodding overgrown garden weed wants to complain, I'll give him a thorough, detailed explanation."

"Fair enough, but just make it clear it was your idea." A matter of seconds later, Miriam had dialled up another portal, and stepped aside to allow her partner through.

"I'll be more than willing to do the explaining. At knifepoint, if necessary." Cara looked around once she was through. "Where are we now, then?

"Listen for a moment. Not that it matters, seeing as we pretty much skipped the whole chapter." The portal had dumped them back outside the Sue's room, inside which Boromir and Callimir were arguing again, mostly about Legolas. If Miriam didn't know better, she'd have almost been impressed by Callimir's attitude towards the idea of being with Legolas, but she did know better. "Bloody typical, really," she muttered. "Spend all that time showing why Legomances are so stupid, only to send yourself after Aragorn anyway. Why do we keep getting these kinds of Sues?"

Cara tried to answer, but whatever she said was drowned out by the Author's Note, which proved quite irritating to both Assassins. As the sixth chapter faded into the seventh, the note ended with a request for advice on how to make Callimir less of a Sue, but Miriam didn't even have to ask her partner to know that giving the Suethor that chance wasn't an option.

I can’t believe how often I’m updating this.

"Neither can we, but we'd really rather you stopped." Miriam sighed, and set off to track Callimir as the Sue made her way through Rivendell in search of Elrond. Cara followed, still muttering darkly about what she would like to do to fanbrats who messed with Denethor's personality. She gave the Sue a dirty look as Gandalf (who, the older Assassin noted with a kind of grim amusement, Callimir insisted on addressing as "Mithrandir") turned up at the door to Elrond's study at the same time Callimir did.

The Agents waited outside the study while the Sue complained to Elrond about Boromir going behind her back to talk to Elrond. Apparently Boromir's concern for his sister should have no effect on the Elven Lord's decision to let her go with the Fellowship.

"Come on, Lord Elrond, fight back and tell the little brat she's staying," Cara muttered fiercely. Both Agents were half expecting Elrond to either make her stay or instantly decide that she could go, but the choice didn't seem to be as obvious as it should have been. Elrond decided that he had best think it over, and told Callimir to meet him in the courtyard in about four hours, with the rest of the Fellowship. Outside the study, Callimir and Gandalf had a brief conversation before they headed off to the stables, which left the Assassins with some well-deserved free time.

"So," Miriam said when she was reasonably sure the Sue wouldn't hear them. "Any ideas for killing time?"

"Yes. We can catch some sleep. I haven't had a chance for that since our last mission, and I'll drop soon if I don't get a few hours. Come on." Without waiting for debate, Cara set off into Rivendell to find an unoccupied bedroom.

A few hours later, both Agents awoke, curled up in a comfortable room. Cara felt much better for the rest. "Mmmm... wish we could get beds like this in HQ," she yawned as she sat up. "If we didn't have the rest of the damn mission to get through, and if it'd fit in the RC, I'd steal this one."

Miriam gave a little grunt of acknowledgement as she rubbed sleep out of her eyes, then scanned the Words in an effort to place just where they were. For a few moments, it looked as if she had nodded off again, until she got up and grabbed her sword, attaching the scabbard to her belt. "Arright," she said. "We have to get moving, or we'll miss the chapter's end again; Elrond's about to let her go."

"Oh, sod!" Cara grabbed her knife and slipped it into place, then dashed out of the door without a backwards glance.

As she sat down near the council area to eavesdrop on the meeting, the Assassin checked the Words and grinned. "So, the horse nut can't actually ride a horse that well? Damn, I wish we'd been able to watch her getting chucked off. It'd almost make up for this scene." She indicated the seated group of figures, including the canonical Fellowship, who were listening to Elrond announce to everyone why he'd called the meeting. "Even in the book Merry and Pippin didn't have all this waffle. She does just so everyone can see she's getting her own way."

"Or so the Suethor can develop the character, but I think we'd be giving her a bit too much credit if we said that." Miriam rolled her eyes at the description of each Fellowship member's stupidly-surprised reaction, though she winced when Boromir's eyes bulged to the point where they almost popped from their sockets.

"What is this 'character development' you refer to?" Cara murmured, half-amused, half-annoyed. "About all she's doing is trying to establish that Legolas wants to be her best friend and that Boromir doesn't like it." She frowned. "I thought you said this was an Aragorn romance?"

"It's supposed to be!" Miriam seemed more confused about it than Cara. "That's what the Intel report said. I mean, say what you want about the Spies, but they don't lie about what they see in fics." As they observed this, Callimir was approached by Aragorn, who suggested that she go to the Houses of Healing to have her back seen to. "Er, hold on. Did he just tell her to walk all the way back to Gondor to get fixed up?"

Cara tilted her head, peered at the Words again, and covered her mouth to stifle her snort of amusement. "I think he did. If that's not telling her to get the hell out of his life, I don't know what is." She looked perhaps the happiest she had been since they entered the fic. "This is one weird Aragorn romance." She winced as the chapter ended, and covered her ears. "Erudamned Glaurunging Author's Notes, what about our sodding hearing?!"

The pair were abruptly jolted as the chapter, and scene, changed. They found themselves in the main courtyard of Rivendell, watching the Fellowship getting ready to leave. Cara watched for a while, frowning, as Aragorn and Callimir - or Callie, as the author insisted on calling her - talked. "Okay, Miri, I seriously think Intel weren't paying attention. She's laying out exactly what's supposed to happen canonically between Aragorn and Arwen, and not even hinting at the possibility of breaking it up."

"If I didn't know you better, I'd think you sounded disappointed."

"Actually, I'm just bloody stunned. So much for an Aragorn-luster. Still..." Cara grinned a bit viciously as she watched Callimir shake Aragorn down for details on Arwen. "There's plenty of other stuff we can kill her for."

"Can't argue with that." The matter settled, both women turned their eyes back to the fic, wherein the Sue had finally stopped pestering Aragorn long enough for the obligatory "meet the Fellowship" sequence. While it was an improvement on ignoring the Dwarf entirely, Gimli was uncharacteristically open, and had apparently been to Gondor, something which drew no small amount of whispered vitriol from the Assassins.

Said Assassins were very nearly caught when the four Hobbits appeared behind Callimir and she turned to talk to them. Fortunately, they found cover rather easily, and continued observing the scene. Miriam nearly cursed aloud at Boromir being made to act like a petulant child, but managed to restrain herself without Cara having to muffle her.

Having decided not to remark on her partner's impressive display of self-restraint, Cara turned her attention back to the fic, and suddenly went dangerously still. "The Ring does not pick on 'the weakest'," she said quietly. "It picks the strongest targets it can. And it certainly doesn't do that to anyone!" she nearly snarled as Callimir fell over and began to throw a fit, apparently from the "overpowering nature of Sauron" and the Ring's influence. "The stupid little... I hope that little act gives her a haemorrhage or something."

"Maybe if it weren't a Suefic." Miriam shook her head, and continued watching the fic with an expression of badly veiled impatience. "At this rate, though, we'll be killing it soon."

Naturally, the canons soon rushed to Callimir's rescue, by which point the Sue had used the last of her strength to force Sauron back. The rest of the chapter was mostly Gandalf, Legolas, and Boromir chatting with the Sue, who reconciled with her brother in a manner almost as childish as the initial squabble. By this point, however, Miriam was honestly past caring, and just began revising her charge list while she waited for the Author's Note to arrive; when it did, both Agents promptly covered their ears, and Miriam looked up to check the Words.

Neither were willing to waste days on end following after the Fellowship, so a quick portal was dialled up and the two jumped through as quickly as they could without crashing into each other. On the other side, and several in-fic days later, Cara and Miriam found themselves behind the Fellowship as they were scaling the Misty Mountains. The trek was about as tough as could be expected, but neither of them were complaining; after all, it was no worse than some of the other locations they had to slog through. However, as the group drew closer to Caradhras (again), and engaged in even more insipid dialogue, the Agents began to grow less content.

"I hate this part," Miriam complained. "I mean, really, I'm starting to think they want to freeze us to death. Or have a fetish for Boromir's scene here."

"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" Cara's voice was rather sour as she eyed the Words. "But I think we've got lucky on that one. We don't need to go all the way up."

"We don't?"

"No. Because apparently they get stuck in the snow and decide that's enough to make them come back down and go through Moria. And the author doesn't even mention Boromir's scene. Oh, and guess what?"

"What?" The sheer calm of her partner's voice was making Miriam wary.

"Gandalf suggests Moria, and Legolas is the one making dire predictions. Oh, how wonderful." Without changing expression, Cara hid behind a rock, made a snowball, and threw it with unerring accuracy to hit the Sue on the back, then ducked down behind the rock again. Callimir turned round, frowning, but her conversation with Aragorn was obviously more important than locating random-snowball throwers, and she quickly forgot about it.

Miriam raised a eyebrow. "Feel better?"

"Much. Off we go, then." Cara led the way, humming something very quietly. Miriam felt slightly unnerved by her partner's calm; by now the older woman was usually threatening to break something. However, she didn't really feel like pointing it out, and chose to follow after her partner and the Fellowship in silence. Despite an admirable attempt to look as calm as Cara did, however, she couldn't help but laugh at the exchange between Gimli and Callimir, especially when the Dwarf started glittering.

"Hey, I didn't know this was a crossover." This earned her a rather strange look from Cara, who had been paying more attention to the Words and their target.

"Huh? Crossover? Where?"

By now the Fellowship were almost beginning to fade from view, but Miriam pointed out the Dwarf. "Look at Gimli. If that's not an accidental crossover with Twilight, I dunno what is."

Cara seemed sceptical, but looked anyway; after a few seconds, she noticed the glittering, and tried to hide a giggle. "I'm putting the alert out for sparkly vampire dwarves when we get back," she said. "Now let's try and beat Mister SparkleDwarf and his buddies down to Moria, shall we?"

"Sure," Miriam replied, as she brought up yet another portal. "I've got an idea, anyway; c'mon, the head start'll help."

Her partner made no argument, so the younger Agent led the way into Moria. When Cara followed her through with an understandably curious look, Miriam gestured to a torch on the nearby wall, having left the portal open just long enough for them to get a fix on its location. "Do you have a lighter or anything like that? Unless you like the idea of killing a Sue when you can't see her."

"Um, lighter... let me see." Cara dug through her pockets, then her rucksack, and eventually extracted a rather battered box of matches. "These'll do." She struck one and, after a few tries, managed to get the torch lit. It illuminated the rather sad scene; not very well, but more than enough for their enhanced eyesight to take in. "Aww. Don't you just feel sorry for 'em all?" She stepped over a sprawled Dwarven skeleton carefully, looked around the room, and then turned back to her partner with her arms folded. "All right, clever clogs, what's the plan?"

Miriam didn't answer at first, and instead searched through her own belongings until she managed to produce a pair of sunglasses. "Put yours on," she said, as she did the same with her own. "There won't be time when we're killing the Sue."

"Oh, it's going to be one of those? Fine." Cara sighed, and put on her glasses. "Now what's the plan?"

"Not very patient, are you?" Miriam teased. "All right, this is what we're gonna do..."

The plan wasn't all that complicated, but the encounter with the Watcher was nearing its end by the time they were finished running through it. As expected, the door was opened and the Fellowship plus Sue rushed in, only for the Watcher (which the Suethor referred to as a squid) to break down the doorway; the Sue was just slightly too late in getting through, and the resulting debris trapped her leg.

Boromir and Legolas immediately set to work freeing her. Unseen by them, Cara and Miriam nodded to each other and got ready to move; once Gandalf told Callimir to stop screaming before she attracted undue attention, Cara took the torch and both Assassins made their way forward.

"Do you think we count as undue attention?" Cara couldn't help but whisper as they approached..

"Probably," Miriam admitted. "You want to talk them down, or should I?"

"Give me the easy jobs, why don't you?" was the very sarcastic reply, but Cara moved ahead all the same. "Hello?" she called, speeding up as she approached the Fellowship. "Is everybody all right?"

"Who are you?" Boromir looked up from where he was knelt next to Callimir, and glared at the two approaching Elves.

"Messengers from Lord Elrond. He was concerned in case you came this way, and sent us to wait and keep an eye out. We heard the noise just now. Are you all okay?"

"Lady Callimir is injured," Aragorn informed them. "Her leg was caught when the entrance collapsed."

"Let us see." Cara pushed through the group, trying to restrain her grin at actually standing among the Fellowship and reminding herself how much less pleasant they'd been back when she was an OFUM student. That in mind, the chance to boss them around a bit was certainly enjoyable. "You will have to stand back, so we have room to work. Miriam, come and help."

They backed away a fair distance as Cara knelt down next to the understandably frightened-looking Sue. Miriam wasn't far behind, and took the Sue's other side. While Cara began examining and bracing the leg, Miriam leaned over until she was as close to Callimir's ear as she could manage without accidentally head-butting her. To the Fellowship, it looked as if she were just whispering reassuring words to the Sue, but in fact she was taking this opportunity to read out the charges.

"Callimir," she said, "you are charged by the Protectors of the Plot Continuum - that's us - with the following: Being a Mary Sue; making Denethor into a Designated Abusive and Misogynistic Bastard; making up stupid nicknames for the canons, particularly 'Brom' and 'Farah', and I'm not in the mood to give you a bonus for calling Gandalf 'Mithrandir'; annoying PPC Agents; being made one of Rohan's heirs at fifteen; calling the Rohirrim 'Rohanians' and stating that Denethor would send someone to spy on them for pretty much no reason; twisting the personalities of a number of characters; suggesting that you could seduce Elrond; and a lot of other things that I've either forgotten or don't have time to read out."

The Sue was starting to catch on already, and gave Miriam a look of something between confusion and plain terror, but the Assassin ignored her. "Cara, now!" While Cara drew her knife, Miriam used her leg to pin down Callimir's free arm, placed a hand over her mouth, and raised the neuralyser. Fortunately for the two Agents, her plan went as it was supposed to, and the bright, memory-erasing flash went off before any of the Fellowship could rush to Callimir's defence.

Even as Miriam activated the neuralyser, Cara was already lunging for the Sue's heart. A quick stab and a shocked little gasp later, Callimir was expiring very rapidly and Cara was scrambling to get a portal opened. "Come on, Miri, let's get going." She looked over at the dazed Fellowship. "You have just escaped the Watcher in the Water and are trapped in Moria. Gandalf, you don't like it, but Frodo chose to, so you're going along with it. There was never anyone called Callimir here, she wasn't related to Boromir in any way, shape or form, and two Elves didn't turn up and kill her in front of you. Now get cracking, you have a four-day journey to be getting on with."

She flapped her hand at them as they stared at her. "Go on, shift yourselves. You're going that way." She pointed at the stairs behind them. Automatically, they turned and moved towards the stairs, which made things easier for the Agents as they manhandled the Sue's body through the portal. Just as Miriam was about to follow Cara through, the older Agent yelped, "Grab the torch!"

"Huh?" Miriam blinked, then looked back at the torch, which was still lodged in the rocks near the entrance. "Ah, crap! One second!"

Once the torch was in hand, Miriam quickly joined her partner on the other side. "So, what're we doing with the bint?"

"Well, there've been so many Sues chucked down the abyss by the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm, I figured we'd find a different gaping hole to put her in." Cara nodded to a fairly smallish pit nearby. "That one do you?"

"Sure. All that matters is we get rid of the thing." Miriam looked around, moving the torch a bit to illuminate some of the immediate area. "Guess you want me to keep some light on you? Nowhere I can really put this."

"Yeah, I can manage, just don't let me accidentally throw myself off along with her." Cara unceremoniously hauled Callimir over to the pit, though rather unsteadily given the amount of rubble on the floor, and sent the pathetic-looking corpse flying with an inelegant sort of half-push, half-throw.

"There." She grabbed the RA and typed in the co-ordinates. As the portal opened, she raised an eyebrow at Miriam and grinned. "If you really want to bring the torch back with you, you can." She stepped through and stretched, back in her normal body again, before dumping her equipment on the table. Her partner came in a few seconds later, without the torch, and put her own stuff in the usual spot on the wall near their console before she sat down.

"Well, that one could've been worse," she said, evidently not caring if the Ironic Overpower took that as a challenge. "You ever feel like a mission took a lot longer than it should've?"

"Sometimes, yeah. Why? Not like that one was all that long."

"I know, but it just seemed to drag on. Maybe it was just me." Miriam sat back, content with the fact that they were done with it, at the very least. "So, any plans for how to pass the time until the next one?"

"Hm." Cara thought for a moment, before the sight of her CAD reminded her of something. "I should really go down and visit Stephanie. I'm sure she'll want to show off her new toy." She made for the door. "Coming?"

"Eh, why not?" Miriam said as she stood up. "Could use a bit of a walk; besides, Terry's been wanting me to drop by, so I might visit him on the way back."

Without further discussion, the two women headed off into the depths of HQ.


Authors' Notes: (Kyle) I wish we'd finished this Glaurunging thing months ago. No further comment.

(Cassie) To be perfectly honest, this Sue annoyed the crap out of me, and I really wish we could have done something a bit nastier to her. But in the end it was just a case of "hey, now she's just hacking us off, let's kill her and get it over with", which is probably reflected in our Agents' attitudes altering somewhat over the course of the mission. Still, she's dead now, and the Canon is one Sue less. Glad it's done.

Cara Fielding and Miriam Collins will return in: Vainglorious Suethors
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