Monday, June 6, 2011

TAOM: Karissa & Charis - Solitary


It had been an interesting first week for Karissa.

On Monday she passed her training mission, the only thing standing in her way of being truly called an Agent of the Anti-Clich̩ and Mary-Sue Elimination Society. Thanks to her charm - and Charis' Bookmark РTash had let her off for failing to actually capture her Sue. It didn't matter much, because Karissa knew Lela, and the multitude of fandoms would be safe for a long while before the Sue could ever accrue enough power to seriously endanger anyone or anything; that part didn't matter much. However, the fact that she was finally in - she had a place where she could belong - that mattered very much to Karissa.


As a reward for shedding her Rookie status, she was allowed to sleep in on Tuesday. Karissa woke up at two in the afternoon, head propped up on her arms behind a protective wall of books. She didn't think anyone was nearby, because this was the section on Podiatric Medicine in Non-Fiction, after all; but in any case, the books piled up in front of her would have shielded her from the view of any curious passersby. Karissa looked such a mess when sleeping, and the fact that she had passed out in the first chair that welcomed her would have made great material for anyone looking to blackmail her. Rubbing her eyes to stimulate wakefulness, she set off to explore the maze of her new home for the seven hours that remained before she would once again head to bed.


By Wednesday, Karissa had reasonably memories all the areas of the Library – excepting the little extra rooms that might pop up in response to your needs, much like the Harry Potter Room of Requirement – and she'd finally found her bedroom. Karissa dove at the suitcase someone had delivered for her, clawing at the front of the black luggage until the stuck zipper popped, letting bundles of tight plastic spill out. She had stolen the idea from Rebecca Bloomwood (Shopaholic series) when the time had come to pack and she'd been booted to this world by her Author. Karissa unstuck the tape on the vacuum-sealed bags, releasing clothes, toiletries, books, posters, furniture and furnishings, along with her favourite snack foods. She kicked the luggage underneath her bed before opening a package of instant soba noodles, impractically eager to eat although the noodles had yet to be cooked. Needless to say, she hadn't eaten Monday or Tuesday.


Charis cooked dinner on Thursday night. The previous day, she too had finished settling into her accommodations. The Master of the Library had generously granted the older sister her own workshop outside of the regular ACMSES Science lab when she'd hinted that she would feel much more at ease outdoors; so now they ate outside the building called the Library, but they were still within the Library Arcanium's exterior boundary. Charis had prepared an appetizer buffet made up entirely of seafood, much to Karissa's delight.

"I'm never importing this stuff for you again," Charis scolded Karissa as they began to dig in. "It was bad enough that you demanded San Franciscan-caught shrimp and crab when we lived in Canada, but try arranging for fresh seafood to arrive through a temporal disruption like the one that surrounds the Library!"

Her sister chewed happily through her complaints. "Do you want to watch a movie tonight?" she asked Charis once they'd finished their meal.

"But a little birdie told me you'd recently taken to going sleeping at 9 o'clock."

"Well, when you suffer from hunger pangs, sleep is your only respite."

"I'll watch Hannibal Rising with you."

"Oh, never mind."


Karissa lounged lazily on a denim beanbag chair while Charis put the finishing touches on her first qualifying gadget for official membership of the ACMSES Science Society.

"There, it's perfect!" Charis said happily. She pulled off her glasses, and her long yellow rubber gloves, then in the same movement she pulled a shroud over the workbench.

"Won't you show me what it is?" Karissa wheedled.

"No, and no means no."


"No!" Eventually their sisterly banter resulted in a pillow fight, complete with mysteriously conjured pillows, like it usually did.

When Karissa collapsed in defeat onto another beanbag chair, she discovered she'd been carefully led away from Charis' inventing space, further ensuring that she would catch no early glimpse of the mysterious object. "Ow! You gave me a bruise that will last until Saturday," she moaned.

"A day of pain will put some perspective on things. For example, I hope you've learned that you'll never be able to triumph over your older sister.

"I can't believe I wasted a Friday watching you make whatever-it-is. Other forms of hazing are much more entertaining to witness."

"But if I can pass this test, I'll be an official ACMSES technician." Charis' expression turned joyous at the thought.

Karissa didn't think her sister's reaction was altogether appropriate. She was much too happy. She tested Charis, uttering, "Gaspard Ulliel."

Charis' smile lifted, even more ecstatic.

"You watched Hannibal yesterday, even without me," Karissa accused. "You just had to get your celebrity fix. Am I right?"

Charis' responsive laughter effectively shook the question off.


On Saturday, there were no fights. Things were quiet within the Society, and things were even quieter in Karissa's room. Karissa and Charis spent another day in self-imposed exile from the rest of the Library's occupants, but each felt almost ready to face the world next day. Karissa hung upside-down off the edge of her bed, and one of her legs lay draped over Charis' crossed-legs lap. "What did our Author say to you when you left?" she asked after a long silence.


"She didn't offer anything more heart-warming than that?"

"No. She just said 'goodbye'," Charis stated simply.

"Yeah, me too." Karissa moped in the direction of the floor. "Do you think She misses us even a little, by now? This is the sixth hour of our sixth day apart."

"She might not be thinking of us this very second, but that doesn't mean She never cared for us."

Tired of her sister's roundabout questions, Charis broke the mould by being uncharacteristically frank. "Haven't you taken a look at that battered monstrosity that you call a suitcase? There's no way you could fit all of this-" A hand swept out to encompass the contents of the room, "Inside those little bags, in there, even with the strongest vacuum cleaner known to man. I happen to know for a fact that She wrote a little assistance for you." Charis waggled her fingers in a way to indicate magic. Written magic. "She put a pen to paper expressedly for you, despite her incurable laziness."

Karissa had nothing to say to that. But in any case, her lips became more firmly pressed together.


When the summons came in about another Sue, Karissa was ready. When it turned out there was a possibility the Sue was Lela, Karissa didn't bat an eye at the prospect of leaving on a second mission so soon.

Tash had her own two bits to add, however. "Wait. D-man is a black-listed fandom, as you may or may not know. I'm afraid I'll have to require you to take a partner on your mission."

Karissa visibly blanched, her pale complexion becoming more ghostly than usual. "Charis-"

"Is needed here for her work. Besides, she has no weapons or abilities to defend herself with in a hostile fandom."

Karissa knew her sister. They'd had another mock-fight this morning, and again Charis had won; she would not be useless in battle, but she continued to permit the Society to think she had no skill. What a bother.

"Well? I can't let you enter D.Gray-man alone." Tash frowned at what she thought to be simple stubbornness.

Karissa's thoughts roamed over who else she could possibly trust – maybe she could work with Aster or Tyler after all – but then yesterday's conversation came back to her in perfect clarity. "I can contact my Author! She owes me one!" Karissa exclaimed in inspiration, excitedly pounding a fist into her other hand. She would create a reason for them to meet again, and then she could let Her know that she was doing all right.

Tash looked taken aback. She had been going to say that Karissa would have to take one of the Leaders with her - either Harriet, Adrian, or herself - but surely an Author could sufficiently protect her creation? Hesitantly, she nodded at Karissa, who grinned and dashed off.

Karissa went to find her sister, and she was going to try to force Charis to lend her the laptop for a moment. She still had Her e-mail address. That was how she would contact... Cay.

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