Monday, January 30, 2012

Insert Random Scream of Pain Here (part 1 of 5)

Neb sat nursing his wounds. The plan to kidnap Deebs and lure Ben and his friends into a trap had miserably failed. Neb sighed. After Shirley had hurled that last nuke at him he had fled to the nearest place he could open a plothole to. He looked around, it was pitch black. He wasn't even entirely sure this was a fandom. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, just darkness as far as his eye could see.

He pointed in a random direction. "Mess with Nukes." He muttered, hoping that the resulting explosion would generate some light. Nothing happened.

Neb growled and leveled a palm. "My coffeemakers-"

Suddenly, something grabbed him and slammed his head into the ground, hard.

Neb groaned in pain. Well, if nothing else, at least he was standing on something solid.

"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't ruin my home." A voice sounded close to his ear. There was the sound of fingers being snapped and a soft glow appeared.

Neb blinked. Even with his sunglasses, the light hurt after being trapped in darkness for so long.

"Where've you been?" He rasped. "That plan of yours was worthless! We nearly got killed!"

"My plan was worthless?" The voice chuckled. "All I did was tell you how to enter the mansion in Ben's imagination! You and your friends botched the so-called plan all on your own."

Neb growled.

"Now, now, it's no use getting mad at me, my leather-clad friend. But enough of this. I have some new information for you."

Neb listened to his contact in shock for several seconds, before an evil grin split his face.


It was one of those odd times in the Library Arcanium, where half the Society was sleeping and the other half was just getting up. That was one of the problems with bringing people together from different time zones.

Ben wasn't asleep though. He had too much on his mind. After being banned from the tech lab by Camille for repeated requests for updates on Bahamut's status, he had wandered aimlessly around the library for hours, before settling down and trying unsuccessfully to occupy himself with several books.

He tossed "A Breif History of Nukes" aside and turned up the volume on his MP3, hoping the lyrics from Lamb of God's lead singer would drown out the sound of his own thoughts. It didn't work.

Ben sighed, leaning back in his chair to stare at the ceiling. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn't stop thinking.

Neb had vanished after their battle, so Ben had no clue where he was or what he was up to. And with someone like Neb, that only made him nervous. Deebs was safely back at the mansion under Seymour's watchful eye, and Shirley was there working on strengthening the mansions defences, but who was to say that Neb wouldn't try again? And on that note, what about the rest of his non-Society friends and family? He couldn't guarantee protection for all of them, especially not without Bahamut. Without his weapon-instrument, Ben could'nt even protect himself against his evil twin.

Camille had assured him several times that Bahamut could be fixed and that progress was being made on the repairs, but what if Neb struck in the meantime?

At least Bella was still safe, as far as he knew, he hadn't seen her since their battle in the Buso Renkin fandom.

Ben frowned as he thought of the emerald-haired Sue. Had he really done the right thing, helping her to escape? He didn't dare visit the mini-fandom himself for fear that the Society would notice the world and investigate. And for that matter, what was he thinking, falling for Mary-Sue? It wasn't as if they could ever have a real relationship, what with him being a Society Agent. And how did he even know what they had was real? For all he knew, it might just be the effect of her Sue powers on him after being around her so much.

Ben's stomach growled and he realized he hadn't eaten for several hours. Mabye things would be clearer after he got something in his stomach.

Ben hauled himself out of the chair and headed for the kitchen. He grabbed a packet of instant ramen from one of the cupboards and set a pan of water on the stove.

"Oh, Hi, Ben-kun!" A voice chirped behind him.

Ben started, whirling, nearly spilling scalding hot water on himself as he did so.

"Oh, hi, Aster. You startled me there..."

"Sorry~" The blue-haired fae apologized.

Ben chuckled. "It's OK. Do you want some ramen?"

Ben added more water and noodles to the pot and turned up the heat slightly.

When he turned back, Aster quickly looked away, as if she had been caught staring.

The two Agents sat down as they waited for the water to boil.

"So, Ben-kun," Aster said slowly. "Is there... anything you want to talk about?"

Ben shook his head mutely.

"You sure?" Aster probed. "Anything... at all?"

"Nothing in particular..." Ben said.

"Not even about what happened between you and Bella?"

Ben quickly looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "What do you mean?" He asked warily.

Aster shrugged. "All I know is that something happened between you two. Do you want to talk about it? Or...?"

Ben stared into empty space for a long while before talking. "When... before we fought, we got to talking. I got to know her a little better and she told me why she was fighting."

He looked over at Aster. "She wasn't like the other Mary-Sues." He said. "She was different. She didn't want power or control, all she wanted to do was to use her powers to help people. The more we talked, the more I came to understand her, and I..." He trailed off.

"And you fell in love with her." Aster finished for him.

Ben shrugged. Just then, the water began to boil and he got up, spooning the noodles into two bowls and handing one to Aster.

The two Agents ate in silence for a while before Ben cleared his throat.

"Tell me," Ben queried. "How did you know? About me and Bella, I mean?"

Aster giggled. "I've read just about every shojo manga in existence. There is very little about romance that I don't know. When I saw you after you got back from Buso Renkin, it was pretty obvious what was going on."

"Really?" Ben asked, uncomfortable with the idea that his emotions were so easily read by all.

"Well, to me at least, I doubt anyone else noticed anything."

"Ok... good." Ben went back to what was left of his soup.

"But there's still something on your mind..." Aster surmised.

"Yeah." Ben sighed. "I'm not entirely sure if... what we had was genuine."

"Why not?"

Ben shrugged. "I just-I don't know. I mean, how do I know that she wasn't just manipulating me? I saw her wrap ridiculously powerful canon characters around her finger like putty. How do I know that she wasn't doing the same thing to me?"

Aster cocked her head to one side. "Do you have any proof that she was?"


"Then you shouldn't doubt her, Ben-kun. If you can't trust those you care for, who can you trust?"

Ben shrugged. "I guess so," He said. "It's not as if it really matters anymore..."

There was another long silence.

"Tell me," Ben said after a long moment. "If... she were still alive... would we... could we have been able to... you know, work it out?"

Aster smiled sadly. "Ben-kun, if there's one thing I've learned from reading years of shojo manga, it's that if you're truly in love, and you're willing to make it work, nothing, and I mean nothing, can stand in the way."
Ben stared into his bowl for a long moment.

"Thanks, Aster." He said, getting to his feet. "I haven't really been able to talk to anybody about this, so..."
Aster smiled.

"Say," Ben said, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Do you think you could, you know, not mention this to anyone? I'd rather not this got out."

"Well, if Tash-san or Adrian-kun asks, I'll have to tell them, you know that, right?"

Ben nodded unhappily.

"But I doubt they will, so..."

Ben nodded. "Ok, thanks, Aster."

"Any time!~" Aster said as Ben walked out, but he didn't hear her. His mind was on something else. He doubted anyone in particular would be up yet, so if he was going to do it, now was the time.

It was finally time for Ben and Bella to meet again.


Bella gathered up her things as the last bell of the day rang. She had made friends at the high school Ben created for her. Real Friends. There had been some rough starts at first when people weren't attracted to her naturally, but everything had worked out in the end.

As she shoved her green gel pens into her jade messenger bag, the intercom buzzed.

"Bella Aubrey, please report to the office. Bella Aubrey to the office, please."

Bella frowned as she straightened up. Was she in trouble? She didn't recall doing anything. Maybe she offended or insulted someone and didn't realize it. That was always possible, things like that were never an issue when she wasn't surpressing her powers.

Bella slung her the bag strap over the shoulder and headed for the office.

"Did you want to see me?" She asked the secretary, an emanciated old woman with a prunish appearance.

"You've got someone here to see you." The woman said in a voice that clearly indicated she'd smoked too much over the years.

"Who?" Bella asked. Unless Ben created a new character, she doubted anyone could find their world. No one besides-

The secretary pointed behind her.

Bella whirled.


Ben gave her a nervous grin. "How's it going?"

"What're you doing here?" Bella exclaimed.

Ben took a deep breath.

"I just... I wanted to see you again." He said, meeting Bella's eye.

The two of them looked at each other for a moment. Then, Bella took Ben's hand in her own.

Ben smiled at Bella who returned the gesture, noting the slight blush dusting his cheeks.

"You wanna take a walk?"


"...So then Doug and I got stuck on cleaning duty for like, a month." Ben finished as he and Bella walked around the outside of the school.

"Seriously?" Bella asked.

Ben nodded as the Sue laughed.

The two of them turned a corner into a small hidden garden. Various flowers and plants clustered around a stone bench and a small fountain gurgled and trickled around the edge.

The two of them sat down on the bench, still holding hands.

"This place is so beautiful," Bella murmured. "When I first saw it, I could hardly believe someone like you made it..."

Ben chuckled. "Most people are surprised when they see this side of me."

"Oh!" Bella exclaimed, realizing what she'd said. "I just insulted you, didn't I? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to!"
Ben laughed. "It's alright, don't worry about it."

Bella covered her face with her hands. "People hated me when I first showed up here, because I kept on saying such mean things to them. I didn't even realize what I was doing at first!"

"But you learned, didn't you?" Ben asked bracingly.

Bella nodded unhappily. "It took a long time though. I never realized being normal was such hard work."

"Well, that's half the point!" Ben said. "All those thing's you've been talking about? That's called making mistakes, and best of all, you've learned from them, which makes you smarter than about 90% of mankind!"

Bella laughed and smiled at him. "Thanks. So how're things going back at the Society?" She asked.

Ben shrugged. "So far so good. Nothing too abnormal going on lately."

"But that's a relative term given the Society, right?" Bella giggled.

Ben laughed. "True. So, what about you?"

Bella shrugged. "Same here." She said. "Like I said, I did have a little trouble at first when I couldn`t use my powers, but everything`s worked out."

"I'm glad" Ben said, giving her hand a squeeze.

"It's strange," Bella said slowly. "The very first time I lost at something to someone else, I found myself being happy for them, rather than resenting them... It was a nice feeling..."

"Sounds to me like you're learning how to be human." Ben said.

"Yeah, I guess so..." Bella said, looking over at Ben.

The Mary-Sue and Society Agent looked at each other for a long moment.

"Why did you want to see me?" Bella asked at last. "It must've risky for you to come and visit me here."

Ben took another deep breath. "When I got back to the Library after our battle, I told everyone you were dead." He began. "But there was one Agent who guessed what happened to us. She still thinks you're dead though." Ben assured Bella, noticing the look on her face. "But...we talked a little and I got to thinking."
Ben put his other hand over Bella's own.

"Listen to me, do you really want to make this work?" He asked.

"Make what work?" Bella asked.

Ben gestured around. "This. Us. Do you want to be together?"

Bella bit her lip. "I..."

"I already know you do, I just need to hear you say it."

"But, you're from the Society!" Bella protested. "I'm a Sue!"

"I never said it would be easy." Ben conceded. "It's going to take a lot of work. But I'm willing to do what it takes."

"But what about your superiors? Your friends?"

"We'll figure something out. You know as well as I do that this is only a temporary hiding place. We were going to have to face this eventually."

Bella looked away, staring at the flowers surrounding them, but Ben gently turned her face back towards him.

"I'd much rather face what the future holds with you, than without." He murmured gently, staring into her sparkling green eyes.

Bella swallowed, looking back into Ben's eyes. What was this? She'd never felt like this before. It scared her, but at the same time, she liked it.

Neither said anything for a long moment. Then, they gently moved closer to each other, their lips slowly drawing nearer. Ben could feel Bella's cool breath on his lips. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes-

"Awww... how sweet." A voice snickered.

Ben and Bella broke apart from each other as if they were magnetized.

"Where-?" Ben sputtered.

"Up here."

Both turned to see Neb, leaning out of a window above the two, leering at them.

Before either could move or think, the leather-clad Protection Agent leapt from the window, plummeting towards them.

Instinctively, Ben grabbed Bella's and and pulled her out of the way.

Neb crashed to the ground, landing on the stone bench and snapping it in two. Without missing a beat, he grabbed one of the huge stone chunks and hurled it at the two.

Bella raised a hand from where she and Ben lay on the ground and fired a beam of emerald energy, smashing the rock to pieces.

Neb snarled and started forward, as the two struggled to their feet, but Ben struck first.

"My coffeemakers are not controlled by Hoover Dam computers!" He barked, thrusting an arm towards his doppelganger.

Neb's eyes widened as Ben grabbed Bella's hand again and pulled her out of the way. The floodgates materialized, issuing forth a flood of java.

Meanwhile Ben and Bella dashed back into the school through a side door.

"How'd he find us here?" Bella panted as they sprinted down a hallway.

"It's Neb!" Ben replied. "He tracked me down in Pendragon, who knows how he does it?"

As they ran Ben noticed in the corner of his mind that Bella was keeping up just fine. All those merry chases he lead her on when they were on opposite sides must've made her a better runner. One corner of his mouth quirked in a smile as he ran.

Suddenly, as they turned a corner Ekard appeared out of nowhere, right in front of them.

Ben skidded to a stop, already raising his hand, his mouth forming the first syllables of an attack, but Ekard struck first, driving an armored fist deep into Ben's gut.

Ben's eyes bugged out and he slumped to his knees gasping for air.

Bella screamed, but Ekard silenced her with a forceful backhanded slap to the face, sending her flying into the wall.

Neb came running up, his jacket still dripping coffee. "What took you so long?" He rasped.

"Screw you." Ekard snorted. "You're the one who let them get away."

He glanced down at Ben who was starting to stir and planted a boot on his back, grinding him into the linoleum.

Neb grabbed Bella from where she lay slumped against the wall and hauled her to her feet.

"What's wrong?" Neb snickered, "Scared?"

Bella responded by blasting him full in the face with another beam of energy.

Neb was knocked backwards, and Bella turned to run, but Ekard lashed out with his foot, knocking her down. Before she could move, Ekard struck her sharply in the back of the head, rendering her unconscious.

"Geez, man, get it together, would ya?" He sneered at Neb as he got to his feet.

Neb stalked over and slung the unconscious Bella over his shoulder like a sack of grain. "Geez," He grumbled. "For a Mary-Sue, she sure is a panty-waist."

"...Let her go..." Ben reached out from where he lay on the floor and grabbed Neb's leg.

Ekard hauled back and kicked Ben in the face as hard as he could, snapping Ben's head to one side.

Neb turned back to his counterpart. "Oh, I'll let her go alright." He rasped, as blood began to pour from Ben's nose.

"But you've got to do something for me first. We've got a man of our own about to enter the Society soon as an Agent, so he can feed us information from the inside. He'll contact you and you help him with whatever he needs done. If he says to kill someone, you do it! Otherwise, we'll kill your little girlfriend here."

Ben growled and tried to get up, but Ekard planted his foot on his back again, shoving him back down.
Neb turned and opened a plothole.

"Neb!" Ben barked. "Turn around!"

Neb turned slowly, the lenses of his sunglasses staring at Ben impassively.

"I'm going to say this slowly." Ben said, enunciating. "Because I want you to understand me."

He took a deep breath.

"You can run but never hide. I will hunt you down and tear you limb from limb. Nothing shall remain, not your memory or name, it will be as though you've never, ever lived."

Neb snorted. "That would've been a lot more impressive if I didn't think those weren't the lyrics to some metal song."

Ben didn't reply, just continued to glare at Neb. For some reason, the gaze made Neb uneasy. He nodded to Ekard.

Ben felt a sharp pain, then everything went black.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Insert Frankly Barking Si-Fi Plot Here

Dreams. Jumbles of disordered thoughts and memories in a human mind, a distorted highlight reel of a person's life.

Memories. Fragile crystals of thought that are so easily shattered by other events, but yet can reform at surprising and unexpected times...

A Woman cried out as she vanished into a collection of crystalline pixels, someone shouted out, addressing her as mother...

A Scream of pain. She turned to look and saw an army enter the room. Arcane devices she didn't recognise fell to earth. Where the army of Stu's walked, people died.

"This is what you get for daring to challenge the lieutenant!"

She watched a Woman with Electric-Blue hair turn and generate a plot-hole for herself and flee. She saw a Stu follow her through into a Sci-fi fandom. He looked like the one that had pursued her weeks before...

She was running through an extra-terrestrial jungle now, he was close on her heels. Suddenly a shadowy figure cut a tree down behind her, dropping a nest of vicious whip-wasps onto her pursuer's head. He ran away, screaming.

"You are the last of them! The Lieutenant will reward me well for killing you! I'll hunt you down!"
The man from the shadows was standing over her.

"Vengeance, territory, power, you can have it all. Just serve me well..."

The Woman sat in a chair, with something attached to her head. That couldn't be good. The thing glowed and spat sparks, the woman cried out...

She wanted to help, but the pain erupted in her own mind, and she understood.

The Woman was her.

Mesha... Alicia... Maria... Susan... Maylene... Violet... Abigail... Y-

Mesha woke with a start. The piles of paperwork that covered most of her room seemed to loom out of the semi-darkness like demon's teeth, and for a second she forgot where she was. Then, she remembered.

I am in the Library Arcanium. I am serving a Community Order with the Anti-cliché and Mary-Sue elimination society. I have just had a nightmare.

But about what? She couldn't remember anything about her dream. The sand was running out of her memory, as if she wasn't supposed to remember it...

One thought was clear though. This wasn't the first time she had dreamt this...

And then you forgot!

The words appeared in her mind, unbidden. She wondered vaguely why it was she had woken up, then decided that it didn't matter really.

She crossed the room to her desk and began to work on the paperwork sitting on it. What with the security breaches recently she hadn't been allowed to leave her room unaccompanied, so she might as well do something productive while she waited for an Agent to arrive with some breakfast for her. They never had explained exactly what these breaches were though...

She turned over the page she had been working on the night before and began to fill in the blanks.

Character Displacement Form CD352

Character: Dialga

Native Fandom: Pokemon

Reason for displacement: Inexpert Plothole usage by Mary-Sue (Ref: MAS145).

Result of Displacement: Minor Non-Canon damage to Deep space Nine, and mild casualties amongst its crew.

Mesha settled into the task, ignoring the camera as it whirred away in the background.


Meanwhile, in another universe entirely...

Captain Paul Travers steered the Martian Excursion Vehicle (M.E.V) of the exploration craft Zero X away from the planet Verspona. Doctor Ray Pierce tended to Greg Martin as he slowly recovered from having his part of his flesh turned to bone by contact with a living alien skeleton. As the vehicle pulled itself free of the Extra-terrestrial atmosphere, Travers' attention was pulled towards the instrument panel. An energy discharge near one of Verspona's moons. Type and cause unknown...

"What...? Paul, those bones- The creature..."

Captain Travers turned from the panel to his semi-concious shipmate.

"Relax pal, we've taken care of them. Now you lie back and get some rest..." Travers observed the instrument panel had started reading normal again. Probably a glitch, he thought, dismissing the discrepancy from his mind. "All we have to do now is re-connect with the main body, set a course for earth, then get some food inside us."

Martin grinned weakly. "Sounds good, Paul! But suggest a meal of T-bone Steaks... and I'll scream!"

The Canon characters may have missed the plothole, but the society agent on monitoring duty saw a one-man spaceship of a design certainly not indigenous to a Gerry Anderson fandom slowly descending towards the planet in the background of the comic strip panel. Turning the library's sensor equipment towards the Thunderbirds spin-off, Rhia quickly established the presence of a level 4 Gary-Stu, and sent out an alert.

"Finally, the mission." said Tyler, "I was wondering when the author was going to get to the point..."

"You'll understand why all that was necessary soon." Dave replied. Both agents were wearing bright orange spacesuits with yellow helmets, as seen in the Doctor Who episode "Impossible Planet", only with a society logo replacing that of sanctuary base six. Anything essential, their prohibitors, plothole generators and Tyler's ping pong paddle were hanging from their belts or in one of the various pockets adorning their suits legs. Dave's Axe (the same one he had grabbed from the society armoury to fend off Shirley weeks before and hardly dared let go of for this very reason) was slung across his back, which had caused many historically inaccurate comments about his looking like a Viking from outer space.

As they walked through a dried up sea, Verspona's nickname of "Planet of Bones" became apparent. Every inch of the plain was littered with giant bones.

"Are you sure we need these things?" Tyler asked, referring to the Spacesuits. "I'm hungry..."

"Well, if the bones lasted this long in the open, then the planet must be low on oxygen," Dave explained, producing a trowel from one of his suit's pockets and indicating a nearby femur, "And they look like they've been attacked by more than one corrosive agent, so..." He saw Tyler blink in confusion through his visor.

"Sorry, I'm an Archaeology student." He said, putting the trowel away again, "Put simply, I don't know what's in the air, but it would probably get your carpets nice and clean!" When in doubt, quote Douglas Adams. He thought.

Tyler sighed. "Are all ProperDaveXD001's fics going to be like this? Standing around talking?"

All right! Stand by for Action!

A massive explosion ripped through the alien air, throwing a large amount of rock skywards. A full half of an outcrop that had stood several hundred metres to their right suddenly disintegrated in the wake of the disturbance, and began to form a deadly rain of boulders that shattered the inanimate bones around them.

Tyler quickly erected a magical shield, behind which both agents hid until the debris stopped raining down.

"OK that was a bad time for a Stingray reference," Dave said in the hush that followed. "but I suppose it simplified matters a bit..."

Dave and Tyler ran over to the epicentre of the explosion, and saw a figure in a yellow spacesuit walking cautiously towards an opening in the cliff face, with a laser pistol pointed in front of him. He seemed to have a Vacuum Cleaner attached to his back...

"Our Stu?" Tyler asked.

"Looks like it," Dave fiddled with his spacesuit radio for a moment. "Testing, Testing, am I on your frequency yet?" A laser blast struck a rock a few centimetres away from his left foot. "I'll take that as a yes."

"Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society." Tyler added, "You're under arrest for-"

"I haven't altered this fandom one bit!" the Stu shot back, "The characters have left, Verspona won't be mentioned again, you've got no right to arrest me!"

"What's with the vacuum then?" Tyler asked.

"To steal the Bone-forming matter in that cave, so we can use it to create an unstoppable army of invincible skeletons and conquer this fandom...I shouldn't have said that!"

"What is it with Villains and the instinct to explain their evil plan to the protagonists?" Dave muttered.

"I'm not a Villain!" The Stu exclaimed, waving his arms around to add drama and emphasis to his speech, "I'm a main character that had to watch his entire family slaughtered by demons, then studied for five years with a wise master in the Himalayas before he too was brutally slaughtered, then began to fight back when my author decided I should sacrifice myself for a new protagonist to defeat them, and-"


"Don't Shhhh me!"

"Well, at least stop waving your arms around..." Dave urged, shielding his eyes from the light that was emanating from deep inside the cave.


"Tak, Tak, Tak, Tak."

The noise came from the cave as the light faded. The Stu turned. Dave gaped. Tyler stopped trying to manoeuvre the chocolate bar in his right hand (which he'd pulled into the torso of the suit) through the suit's neck ring to his mouth, and looked up just in time to see a skull emerge from the aperture. The skull was closely followed by shoulders, and a body, until an entire creature that seemed to have escaped from the Night in the Museum fandom was standing blinking in the daylight. (Alright so it didn't have eyes in its sockets, but if it did it would have been blinking them.) This was the reason that Captain Travers and the Zero-X crew had sealed the cave. It might be docile now, but its default Settings were deadly, hostile, and practically indestructible.

The Stu however seemed to think this was a good thing. "Tell you what, why don't I just steal the bone forming matter, while you play with Fido here." He fired his pistol at the rocks near Dave and Tyler. The creature, noting the movement of the rocks, turned and ran towards them with a clattering noise.

Yakita, Yakita, Yakita.

Fortunately for the readers, Dave's less than polite exclamation was truncated by the activation of the Scene Transition.


Meanwhile, back in the library...

Adrian found Tash in kitchen one, talking to Valerie. Val noted the librarian's presence and called to him.

"Adrian, we were just going to look for you."

"Oddly enough," he replied, "I was looking for Tash."

"Maybe later love." Tash replied, with every sign of reluctance. "We might have something important here." Adrian blushed slightly.

"That's not what I meant..." he mumbled.

"Its Mesha." Valerie put in, before she lost both leaders completely. Adrian's ears pricked up.

"What about her?"

"Val's just convinced me that her prohibitor might not be working properly." Tash replied.

"That's impossible!"

"I know, and that's what the telemetry readings said as well, but I can't think of any other reason for it..."

The librarian's eyes narrowed slightly. This was worrying. Even though she wasn't allowed out of her room, and there were twelve different alarm spells and some of his nastiest booby traps waiting if she or anyone else unauthorised went anywhere they weren't supposed to, he wasn't comfortable with a Sue outside the basement. Chi and Xavier at Halloween, and more recently the Pro-Cliché Society had been able to plant things in the library all too easily as it was...

"For what exactly?"

"Several agents seem to be more fond of her than is usually healthy." the Empath elaborated. "That's a bit of a surprise. Bella and Emily are known quantities, but we don't know much about Mesha."

"And the fact that its impossible to say her full name without being interrupted, or attacked." Tash added, "Reading the charge sheet was a laugh a minute...I'm not even sure we know her full name!" She paused and grimaced. "Even thinking too hard about her gives me a headache!"

"And then there's the big one." Valerie added "Neither of us can remember the reason we didn't put her out on parole or in the basement."

Adrian frowned. "I can." he said, "In fact that's why I was looking for you." He took a sheet of paper out of his trench coat pocket and gave it to Tash.

"She begged not to be put on parole because they'd try to kill her." Tash sighed with relief, scanning the paperwork as she did so. "Well I finally managed to check up on the prohibitor telemetry signals from our paroled Sues, and..." he paused, waiting for Tash to finish reading.

"They're all accounted for." Tash muttered.

"Exactly. She claimed some were murdered as collaborators, so either she was just panicking, or she was making it up."

It was Valerie's turn to frown. "She wasn't making it up... or at least, she didn't think she was..."

"Did you talk to her about her nightmares?" Adrian asked. He had passed on Phoenixia's observations to her earlier and asked her to investigate.

The Empath cast her mind back to her chat with the Sue.

"Yes, and she didn't remember anything about them." She said in a surprisingly dark tone. "Something wasn't right though. I can't put my finger on it, but there was definitely something missing from her mind when I scanned her, like she had pulled a thought out to stop me finding it..."

"Wouldn't that have shown up when you spoke to her just after she came in?" Adrian asked. Valerie's frown deepened.

"Now you mention it, it did, but something told me to forget it." She winced as the aforementioned headache made itself known.

All three were silent for a moment. Given the distractions they had suffered recently, the implications were mind boggling. But even before the Pro-Cliché infiltration, security had been pretty tight. Had she been able to do anything to undermine the society? Tash broke the silence.

"If she were consciously aware of doing anything untoward, you would know, right Val?" The healer nodded.

"Even so," Adrian added, "I think we should find a safe fandom to put her in, and get her out of the library as quick as possible..."


As the Scene Transition cycled down, Dave vaguely remembered diving to one side as the skeleton thundered past. Further detail was hard to come by as he had struck his helmet on a protruding rib on the way down.

"Tyler?" he called, receiving only a strange crunching sound as a reply.

"Please tell me that noise is the hazelnuts in your chocolate..." he said, wiping his visor with his suit's glove. There was a gulp.

"No" Tyler said, "Gravel that got into my suit while I was mending it."

With the dust cleared, Dave could see Tyler sitting on a rock. One sleeve of his suit was empty, and the arm that was supposed to be inside it could be detected as it moved around inside the Torso, shovelling the aforementioned gravel into Tyler's mouth, which was below the suit's neck ring leaving only his eyes visible through the perspex visor.

"What?" he said, seeing Dave's expression, "Shame to waste it..."

Dave shook his head. Anyone who hadn't met Tyler before would have attributed this to oxygen starvation, but a quick glance at the mass of Duct tape on his suit's right leg was enough to squash that theory.

"Where'd Boney get to?" he asked, failing to hear the tell-tale clatter of the skeletal creature. Tyler shrugged.
"I blew it up." he said, off-handedly, gesturing to a newer looking pile of bones nearby. Well, that was why Dave had asked him along...

Dave was about to say something about leaving him unprotected with explosives going off, when he saw the Stu exit the cave and march off into the bones.

"I'll get him, you'd better seal the cave again. Take it from someone who knows, having a dinosaur sneak up behind you is not a pleasant sensation..."

Tyler swallowed the rest of the gravel, then took out his explosives and headed for the opening. Dave meanwhile unslung his Axe and followed the Stu.

As the newer agent walked away, Tyler approached the cave mouth with no small feeling of trepidation. Dave had lent him his copy of the Zero X strip called "Planet of Bones", so he knew that a creature would be preceded by a bright light from deep inside. Always assuming of course that the Stu hadn't stolen all of the bone forming matter, which although possible was unlikely.

He rounded a bend in the tunnel and came upon the pool itself, which was glowing dimly with a strange phosphorescence, a dark high-water mark the only evidence that some had been taken.

As Tyler began to place his explosives around the natural archway he had entered through, the pool glowed brighter, bubbled and roiled, until at last a skull emerged. This creature was just a skull, identical to that of the creature outside, but joined to the pool by a length of Vertebrae. A guardian, summoned by whatever conciousness the pool possessed to defend its dwelling.

Unfortunately, it had bubbled and roiled so much that Tyler had had forewarning of its coming, so when it did emerge he merely threw a grenade into its eye socket. The result was predictable, and sprayed cranium fragments all over the room.

"Bone-head..." Tyler muttered, then face palmed, (well, visor palmed anyway, but you know what I mean!), "Great, Dave's bad puns are contagious!"

There was a second bubbling from the pool, and this time Tyler had almost no time to react. An giant arm and hand made entirely of bones emerged and grabbed his leg.

"Muffins!" Tyler yelled, transforming his ping-pong paddle and trying to cast a spell. The arm lifted him high above the cavern floor, and he dropped his staff.

"Further Muffins!...Wonderful, now I've made myself hungry!"

As Dave followed the Stu, the readout on the computer on his arm was updated, and attracted his attention with a beep. Rhia had finally got some information on this guy. His name was Marty Andreas Strong (He had more middle names than that, but they were all in an unpronounceable dialect of Tibetan his Author had made up), and apparently his earlier rant had been reasonably accurate. The only other addition to what Dave already knew was that his Author had reported him AWOL a full two months earlier.

From the look of his spacesuit, and the ship he was fast approaching, he had spent these two months in the original Dan Dare strips, and despite his fantasy roots, seemed to have developed a taste for sixties science fiction comics, which were a good choice for a take over, Dave had to admit. Obscure enough that not many people would notice, and full of bizarre alien creatures. Zero X had Fire-spitting rock-snakes, Sentient mind-controlling plants with eyes, and Living Skeletons to name but a few. All very useful if you had it in mind to conquer a universe...

"You know, if you're going to sneak up on me, at least turn your radio off!" Marty said as he unexpectedly span round. "I could hear you breathing in your helmet... from..." He abruptly realised that Dave was no-where in sight.

There was a tap on his shoulder, and as he turned, Dave dashed his laser gun out of his hand with his Axe, flinging it into a jumble of rocks where it fell down a crevice.

"How'd you do that!" Marty exclaimed. Dave shrugged.

"Being two-dimensionally thin has its advantages. I hid behind the bones as I sneaked up on you." He brought the flat side of his Axe down on the Stu's arm as Marty made to punch him. There was a dull clonk as the weapon made contact.

"AAAAAHHHH! You vicious...Only joking!" The Stu punched again, this time connecting with Dave's stomach. The agent was flung back into a collection of bones, and it was only by the grace of the author that he didn't rip his spacesuit.

As the coffee tables danced around his head, the rational part of Dave's mind noted that Marty was walking stiff-legged, and hypothesised wildly as to why this might be.

Option 1: He has Rickets.

Option 2: He's trying to swagger.

Option 3: He was attacked by a Skeleton creature in the cave. It ripped his suit and scratched him before the suit's Self-sealing properties (They can do that in Dan Dare) kicked in and repaired it. Parts of his flesh are turning to bone and he's decided to use it as a natural body armour against me.

After a moment's reflection, Dave decided option three was most likely. He got up just in time to be punched across the landscape again. This time he landed on a sand dune, and was able to contemplate the fact that his first mission barely a month before might have been easier than it had a right to be. Marty was certainly nowhere near as co-operative as Mesha had been...

Whatever the author is foreshadowing must be big if he's laying it on this thick... He thought.

As Marty approached for the third, and what would possibly be the last time, Dave desperately scrambled to his feet and charged heroically... in the other direction...

Tyler finally achieved his freedom from the bony hand by kicking the wrist joint with his left leg, which had the unfortunate side-effect of dropping him unceremoniously onto the cavern floor, with a hand attached to his right leg.

He reached for his staff to cast a spell, then decided he couldn't be bothered and beat the hand soundly about the knuckles with it instead.

"Get. Off. Get. Off. Get. Off."

The hand eventually let go and scuttled off into the pool, pausing only briefly to make an insulting gesture back at him.

Tyler sighed wearily, and walked out of the cavern, setting the timers on the explosives as he did so.

The sooner he found Dave, the sooner they could get back to the library and eat something...

Dave was running still, but at least now he had a plan. Keep running.

Sooner or later the Alien bone-tissue would get into Marty's joints and inhibit his ability to move at all. Once that happened it would be a simple matter of picking him up and carting him back to the library.

Looking over his shoulder, it seemed that that moment wasn't that far off, as the Stu had been reduced to a walk that was almost a waddle. That said, Dave wasn't exactly in such good shape either, having been punched twice in the belly with a bone armoured hand, so it was surprisingly hard to stay in front of him.

All in all, it was perhaps the wrong moment for Tyler's explosives to go off.

The pressure wave sent them both sprawling into the sand, but after the dust had settled, it was clear from the volume of abuse coming out of Dave's suit radio that Marty couldn't get up again. This allowed the society agent the chance to rest his own aching limbs.

"Sue hunting's harder than you think." he announced to the world in general and making a mental note to get some more skills before his next mission, "No bones about it!" There was a short pause.

"Please, just lock me up..." groaned Marty.

Adrian tore along the corridor as the alarms blared. Phoenixia had warned him that the camera in Mesha's room had stopped functioning, I.e. It had been physically blown out, and immediately afterwards, a plothole had been detected at the same location. He used his authority as librarian to seal the door, just so no-one ended up in a situation that they couldn't get out of.

When he reached her door Adrian was careful to draw his sword before opening it. The interior was a jumble of papers, some of which were still settling from the disturbance caused by the plothole, but...

"She's gone!"

He was right. The Sue had completely vanished.


The figures bundled Mesha into a room. Her wrists and ankles were bound.

One figure held up an object in front of her. Her terrified mind failed to identify it as an old-fashioned pocket watch, covered in a seemingly random pattern of circles. The watch was opened, gold light streamed into her eyes.

And then she remembered...


"Okay Dave," Tash said, gesturing around Mesha's now vacated room, "You're the archaeologist, so what happened here one hundred minutes ago?"

Dave smiled tolerantly. Forensics wasn't really his strong point. Still, he might as well give it a try.

He looked around the room and thought hard, calling on not only his archaeology knowledge, but all the forensic skills Patricia Cornwell, Sherlock Holmes and episodes of Medical Investigation had taught him as well. The pain in his belly from Marty's Punches didn't help his thought processes, but he did his best to ignore it.

While he applied his trade, Tash and Adrian stood and waited in the doorway. Or if you prefer, waited and stood, which is merely standing and waiting in reverse. As good as any time for the author to cut out the Spike Milligan references and skip forward five minutes to when he found something.

"These dents in the carpet." he said, "Mesha was sitting at the desk, on the chair..." he paused. "Where is the chair?"

Tash shrugged. "Not a clue."


"Dave," Adrian interrupted, "No offence, but I'm old enough alreadyyyyyy..." he broke off with a contented purr as Tash rubbed his ears. Dave chuckled.

"Actually, I think I have it."

Tash stopped petting her boyfriend, much to his annoyance. "Well?"

Dave stood up straight, and gestured to the piles of paperwork, already breeding rapidly around them.

"These piles of papers were blown over by a disturbance in the air, right?"

"The plothole Phoenixia detected, just after the camera shut down." Adrian replied, gesturing at the now repaired device in the corner.

"Exactly. Well the way they fell suggests that it opened pretty much where I'm standing, right behind Mesha's chair. The chair was tilted backwards, putting all of her weight upon the rear legs, which is why the marks are so deep in the carpet. At that angle, she would have been tipped backwards into the plothole."

"And the chair followed her to an unknown destination." Tash finished.

"Precisely. I think I'm right in saying that the chance of a Plothole opening, just as she tipped back in her chair and stretched her arms out on a whim is fairly minute? Yes? Good, then the conclusion must be that she was pulled through the plothole physically by a lasso or pair of strong hands belonging to person or persons unknown."

Tash was impressed, but something was bothering her. "We're assuming she was abducted. Some of us were thinking that she might have found a way around the prohibitor. What's to say she didn't just generate the plothole herself and set things up to look like an abduction to muddy the waters?"

"There was no time." Adrian answered. "The time between the camera going out and the plothole closing was just under four seconds. You'd need to be of a higher level than just a level two to pull that off, according to Phoenixia."

This response seemed to set Dave thinking again. "Did any other unauthorised plotholes open today?"

Adrian frowned "No. She'd know if any had."

Dave rapidly arrived at the same conclusion Adrian had. "So they opened a plothole into a library that has recently been Sue-proofed to the Nth degree, specifically at the exact point they wanted, on their first try!"

"What are the odds of that?" Tash exclaimed.

"Nil." Was the librarian's response. "Unless, of course they knew exactly where to find her..." His frown deepened.

"What if she had a tracking device on her?" Dave asked.

"Well, it could be done... But it beats me what they were homing in on. Phoenixia was monitoring all frequencies for that very reason." Adrian seemed to be taking this as a personal insult, as well he might, it was his library.

"Looks like she wasn't all she appeared." Tash added.

There was a short pause.

"What's the punishment for bringing a traitor into the library?" he sighed, gloomily, all thoughts of his successful deduction evaporating.

"We don't know if its treachery on her part or the work of some outside force yet." Tash replied, "And we certainly don't know it was your fault."

Dave mumbled a thanks and excused himself awkwardly. Adrian watched him go.

"Keep an eye on him." He said, quietly to Tash. "He has the makings of a good agent, but..." Tash waited for him to go on. "...I'm not sure he knew what he was getting into when he joined..."

"What do you mean?"

Adrian looked directly at Tash. "Some people take pressure and frustration and bottle it up inside them until they can't take any more. He's so quiet normally, and from what he wrote on his entrance exam he seems to be very principled, I just can't help but get the feeling that when he does erupt..." he paused, "...I hope its a Sue in the firing line and not an agent."


Mesha sat in the chair, still bound, but waiting with the appearance of patience.

Eventually she was joined by the same shadowy figure from her dreams, except now she knew him.

"Long time no see." said he by way of introduction, "You have had a busy few months. I didn't expect you to elude capture for that long, but even that unforeseen circumstance had its advantages."

"I aim to please." she replied, "But if you expect me to entertain you further by struggling you're sorely mistaken."

Her friend chuckled. There was a gleam of blue light and a strange whirring noise, and Mesha felt the ropes around her wrists and ankles go slack.

"Is that my Sonic Mascara?"

"Intriguing device. I'm slightly surprised you use it, given your father's disdain for sonic equipment." He threw the mascara to her. "That prohibitior however is deadlocked, so don't even try using it on that. The most I could do was block the tracking signal... I presume you have something that will remove it? That was the reason we smuggled you into the library..."

Mesha sighed. "The ranks of the arrogant ruined it for us again. The library was infiltrated twice fairly recently, so security was pretty tight. I haven't got all my memories back yet, but I don't think I got more than a list of names and a rough idea of how their filing system worked."

"Well, I suppose I can live with that, but I assume you have an alternative arrangement?"

Mesha waved a hand airily. "I still have some powers, thanks to this device you built for me, and to my dear Daddy of course..." she gestured at the Angel necklace that had been unnoticeable until she mentioned it. "I have a back-up plan."

"You'll have to make it quick. The Librarian turned Lieutenant and "Saint" Foxblade are planning something big, and I don't think they'll tolerate rivals. We'll have to lie low while that blows over."

Mesha stared at her comrade. "How do you know that?"

"I don't question your back-up plan do I?" he responded. "But once they make their move everything will change, that much I will say." The shadowy figure looked up at the ceiling. "Well, I think we've given the readers enough hints. Come now my dear, we'll use what we have, enlighten me as to the filing system of the Library Arcanium..."


Dave lay on his bed in his room, staring at the fading burn on the palm of his right hand. The burn he had got for saving Mesha's life in Primeval. Finally he snorted.

"Sues can be trusted. Huh! How naïve can I be?" he said savagely to himself, grabbing a handful of bedclothes and turning to face the wall. But sleep eluded the troubled agent...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Insert Synthesized Personified Software Voice Here

There are several VOCALOIDs, fanmade and official, all with a different set of voice banks. Because of these voice banks they can sing in certain languages or sing with a certain "voice". And thus over the years fans have attributed personalities to these VOCALOIDs as if they were real people.

Of all of the VOCALOIDs, none is more popular than Hatsune Miku, who achieved fame by singing a rendition of "Ievan Polkka" while waving a leek. Trailing her behind at a close second are the Kagamine twins, Rin and Len, whom nobody will be ever able to agree whether they are distorted reflections in a mirror (the official stance) or fraternal twins (the fan-stance). Right behind them are Meiko and Kaito (Kaito being toted as Miku's lover) of VOCALOID00, the first VOCALOID software. Then, of course, there are Luka and Gackpo and Neru and Haku...

...and a whole ton of fanmade VOCALOIDs with modified or original voice banks. This is common; most fanmade VOCALOIDs actually do have a decently made appearance or voice bank to back them, and some are made just for lulz. Several VOCALOIDs have reached true fame (Neru and Haku were fanmade) while some remain purely obscure.

The highest honor for a VOCALOID was to reach such fame as Miku, Rin, Len, Kaito, and Meiko, and to have such a developed "personality" by so many fans like them. The kind and sweet Miku. The feisty tsundere Rin. The gentle little boy Len. The clumsy and impulsive (but loveable) Kaito. The strict but caring Meiko. All of them so popular, all of them so suspectible to being paired up any which way...

...And then, one day, a new VOCALOID joined their ranks.

Her name was Chi.

Granted, the Japanese VOCALOIDs always seem to be the most popular (all of the big five and the ones trailing them are Japanese)...but of course there are always bilingual ones (like Luka) or ones that simply speak a different language (like Leon).

But Chi was the first-ever Chinese VOCALOID.

While she struggled a bit to pick up Japanese to communicate with the others she managed and became friends with everyone. Her theme color was purple, like Gackpo, except a tad bit lighter.

Chi started out small and timid but eventually the rest of the VOCALOID family warmed up to her and even Neru developed a grudging respect for her that she most definitely NOT have for Miku. Of course, like the other VOCALOIDs, her shipping preferences changed almost every day and eventually she ended up dating all of the VOCALOIDs at one point - including Miku, Rin, Luka, Neru, Meiko, and Haku...(Of course, she actually dated Miku and Kaito the least because she believed they were soul mates...)


Meanwhile, in the Society...

"No eating in class."

Aster was holding the meter stick threateningly over Karissa, who put down the candy she was eating with a gulp.

"There you go." Aster walked back up to the front. "Now, today we have an in-class assignment. I want a whole page, and if your handwriting is 1 cm or over you will be forced to write it again. I want the paper on Konata's lack of good upbringing and how she could have been different had Izumi Kanata been alive."
Chrys raised her hand. "But that's not the funny part - "

"QUIET!" Aster raised the meter stick threateningly. Chrys stared at Aster with -desusparkle- in her eyes.

Aster looked back at Chrys.

Chrys had desu in her eyes.

Aster looked back at Chrys.

Chrys had desu in her eyes.

Aster slammed the meter stick on Chrys's head and went back to the front. Chrys clutched her head in pain and murmured, "You're mean, Aster..."

"Thirty minutes," said Aster, frowning. "Starting now."

The class groaned (which seemed to be a habit in this class nowadays) and got to work. Eventually one person fell asleep, but this definitely did not escape Aster's notice.

She leaned very close to his ear and put a whistle in her mouth.


After the class was over, Marcus was rubbing his ear and Aster was exasperated.

"I'm bored now, kyaa~"

Most of the Society members were rubbing some part of their body that the meter stick had shown no mercy to; the arm or the leg or something. Tyler usually wore armor anytime he attended Aster's classes, but she always managed to find a weak spot - today she'd shoved the stick right in his face, so he was recovering from a dreadful nosebleed.

The nearby computer beeped and Beth went up to check it. " Erm... What kind of fandom is this?"
"What is it?"


Claire raised her head (she was rubbing her foot - how the meter stick reached there she had no idea). "I never got what was the hype over all that..."

Chrys put a finger to her chin. "So the fans made up enough stuff to make it a fandom..."

"Is it an anime?" asked Tash.

Aster shook her head. "Singing software. Type in melody and lyrics and choose a 'voice' and it'll sing it for you. Each voice has a name and character and fans attributed personality to each one."

(Her English had improved since she'd joined the Society.)

"I'm going too!" yelled Aster in a loud booming voice. "I can't miss this!"

"And me!" yelled Chrys. She was swooning.

Adrian was rubbing his temples.


Aster and Chrys weren't actually preparing... they weren't doing anything besides taking out an mp3 player and jamming it on full volume and playing songs sung by VOCALOIDs - and trying to sing along. As the other Society members listened to the music, they had to agree; while the songs did sound very computerized, if one squinted very hard they could sound a bit like people...

"Are you two done?" said Marcus.

"Ah, yes," said Aster, waiting for the final notes of "World is Mine" to die away. "Let's go."

"We get to meet Miku!" cheered Chrys.

"And the Kagamine twins!" said Aster.

The other Agents were silent. "..."


The VOCALOIDs were currently toting their mascot images. Miku had set up a camera. Slowly she took the inventory.

She was holding her signature leek while Kaito had his ice cream (and they had to take the picture quickly or the popsicle would melt), Meiko had her bottle of sake (and under no circumstances was she allowed to take a sip from it), Rin and Len had an orange and banana respectively, Luka was holding her octopus (and giving said octopus a very disgusted look), Gackpo had his eggplant, and Neru and Haku had their cell phone and sake bottle (Haku, also, was not allowed to drink from that bottle).

Oh, and Chi had a jiaozi (Chinese dumpling).

"Smile for the camera!" said Miku cheerily, steering the nervous Chi towards the center of the camera...

...when suddenly a plothole opened out of nowhere, splitting the camera in two and allowing two Society agents to enter the fandom.

"We're from the Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society, and you're under arrest!" yelled Chrys.

Aster pointed out the only VOCALOID who wasn't widely recognized. That one has to be Chi.

Chi had changed drastically since her last run-in with Marcus. She looked much older now, as she now hit the other VOCALOIDs' height, although if she was a chimera (like the fanmade Kasane Teto) she could be older. She still had purple coifs, however, and her eyes matched her hair. She was wearing the Japanese VOCALOID02 seifuku, although it wasn't like Miku's tie but more like Rin's (and Aster's) tie on the front. The sailor fuku was black and purple. Chi also had the black armbands and skirt, and on her left shoulder the number 04 was tattooed on her skin.

"I haven't met you before," she said, gesturing to the two of them. "Who are you then?"

"Aster!" yelled Aster.

"Chrys~" said Chrys.

Chrys cut to the chase and pulled out a Prohibitor.

Chi laughed mirthlessly.

"Try to get that on me while I have this!" said Chi, raising her arm. She was wearing the VOCALOID armband - but Aster knew the armband could also be considered a part of a VOCALOID, and the armband made the arm far too thick for the Prohibitor to fit.


Aster gritted her teeth and wanted to lunge but was foiled by Chi, who tackled her over.

All mayhem broke loose. Food items rose into the air as other VOCALOIDs, eager to protect Chi, their one and only Chinese VOCALOID, came to protect her (except Luka, who wasn't much into protecting anyone that much).

Chi deftly kicked the Agents away and looked downwards. She then looked up...and stared at the Agents with red eyes.

And she began to sing.

In Japanese.

Aster, however, could understand her besides her thick Chinese accent, and listened -

"The fifth Alice was a kind purple one..."

Aster kicked Chi away and pulled out two pairs of earmuffs and jammed them on herself and Chrys.

"She's inserting herself as an Alice. Don't listen to her singing closely. It will make you insane, murderous, or otherwise mentally disturbed..."

Still wearing earmuffs to mute the sound, Aster and Chrys ran to the sides of Chi and tried to tackle her over. Chi was stronger than that, however, and merely stopped singing. She chuckled.

"Anything I sing will make my world!"

And true enough, as Chi sang of fancies and frills and justice, weeds started to grow out of nowhere and the place started to look very, very medieval. Soon, Chi was surrounded by a large bubble, and as she sang and sang, the surroundings changed to match her description.

"This Alice tried to enforce her ideals..."

Chrys feebly tried to invoke her desu, but Chi merely extinguished it as she created her world.

Finally Aster got the idea and said to Chrys,

"Pole-vault me over that tree."


"Just do it!"

Aster climbed onto Chrys's shoulders and jumped (which, for Chrys, was very painful).

Aster, completely abandoning the laws of aerodynamics (hey, she's an anime character, she can do stuff like that), went up, up, up, eventually soaring far above the tree...

...and landed, aiming her foot right at Chi's throat.

It wasn't enough to damage her (perfect) vocal cords, but it was sufficient for her to lose her balance and stop singing for a moment.

The Alice world dissolved. Chi let out a few coughs and spluttered while Aster landed from catapulting off Chi's neck.

But Chi rose again quickly, and scoffed. "Fine then. I didn't want to resort to this, but – " and she ran.

Aster and Chrys equipped themselves with Prohibitors and flew after (well, Chrys was more gliding/jumping very high/fast, but you get the idea). Soon Chi was booby-trapped with two people on two sides of her.

Chrys put the Prohibitor on the top part of her arm. It was a snug fit (had she been gaining weight?) but it slipped on.

"You may have Prohibited me," said Chi. "But I still have the ability to sing!"

She opened her mouth…

…and nothing came out.

"What?" said Chi, confused. "Why – why – "

"You're an UTAUloid, like every other so-called new Vocaloid," said Aster. "You're not officially made by Crypton. Even Kasane Teto, the most famous UTAUloid, doesn't live up to the Vocaloids."

Chi shivered. "You haven't seen the last of me! I will charm everyone to my beliefs! I will - "

Chrys and Aster stared at each other, shaking their heads...

…and shrugged and dragged Chi back to the basement.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Insert Irate Victim of Supernatural Spam Here

All was right in the realm of Charis.

Her sister – at once her biggest source of concern, and yet the greatest impediment to her work at the same time – was finally out of the infirmary. Before she'd had a chance to follow Charis back to her lab and have her interest aroused by her latest project, Karissa had opened her laptop to check her e-mail. Some message from a subscription to some thread had set her off, and then the next thing Charis knew, her sister was rushing out the door with a look of murderous intent in her eyes and the words "My Immortal" on her lips.

Charis would have to get the full story from her sister later. However, at this moment, she was semi-grateful that Karissa hadn't caught sight of her newest invention. She might have broken something in her enthusiasm, and Charis couldn't afford any damage to this particular gadget, because it wasn't hers to break. At least, not entirely.

This... thing, this unnamed tool, was a collaboration that Charis had recently begun with Douglas, another member of the Society. Technically, he was an active Agent, whereas she was concerned solely with the Society's scientific affairs, but Charis had been pleasantly surprised to find that Douglas nonetheless "knew his stuff". He had been the one to come up with the Copyright Darts and Grappling Prohibitors (which Charis had been dying to steal and dissect, for ages). On the table, it looked like your typical Plothole Generator ray gun; however some conspicuously new circuit boards were evident through a hole in the casing.

Charis patted the side of the device affectionately. Today was the last day it would spend in her lab; now that Doug had come back from his latest mission, he wanted time to work on the machine too, and so it would soon be moved into his own lab for convenience's sake. He had promised she would still have input on their project. At the time, she had just shrugged. Now, though, Charis was seriously considering making use of her office inside the Library which was considerably closer to Douglas'. Surely a few days indoors wouldn't harm her indefinitely. She'd lock up her outdoor lab tomorrow and move a few of her things back Inside.

Silently, Charis stripped off her yellow gloves before setting about on an inventory of her most necessary possessions. Of course she'd have to take her tool kit, a change of clothes, some SpagBol, a bar of chocolate (just in case), and her precious laptop. Charis carefully arranged the items in the bottom of a valise, and just as her cursor hovered to Shut Down her computer, a notification binged. Surprised, she pushed the lid of her laptop further back, and observed a bright pop-up ad.

"Have you heard of Hell Correspondence?"

Charis frowned. "That's from Jigoku Shoujo, isn't it?" She didn't keep up with as many manga series as Karissa did. "How did this end up on my desktop? I'm not even connected to the internet." When she moved to minimize the ad, three more windows generated for every one she closed. Charis' trembling hands flew up to her face. "I did not get hacked. I did not get hacked. I did not get hacked!" With a muffled cry of fury, Charis swept towards the door, before an idea occurred to her.

She went back to her bed and grabbed the handles of the light suitcase, and then with her computer still on – birthing new ads at the rate of one per minute in the dark enclosure of her bag – she set out to find the Society's leader, Tash.


"Is anything odd happening in the Jigoku Shoujo fandom?"

Natasha Marquand started in surprise. She was accustomed, by now, to Agents seeking her out at any and all times of day. However, she couldn't recall ever meeting with Charis spontaneously in the Library. Automatically, she said, "If you're looking for Karissa, she left half an hour ago, and not to that fandom."

"I know." Charis brought her laptop out and balanced it on one hand in front of her superior. "I'm asking out of my own interest, because I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be going there shortly."

Tash wasn't sure what exactly she was supposed to be looking at. By this point, the screen of Charis' laptop was awash with a mess of blurred red hues. "Is it broken?"

"I think I've been hacked. I'm not entirely sure if a Sue is involved, but the source of this virus was definitely Jigoku Shoujo."

Tash frowned dubiously. "A computer virus doesn't exactly fit a Sue's MO. Before you leave, we should check the Society's computers to be certain." But rather than heading towards the more powerful machines within the Library, Tash belatedly pulled out her Plot Summary instead. Charis stared at it covetously all the while that Tash consulted her personal device. After a moment, the older woman spoke, slowly, "There is some irregularity in the series. But judging by these readings – if there is a Sue in the fandom she's rating as less than a Level 1; she'd have less power than Emily prior to us taking her in."

Since she'd never once been in the field before, the word "level" in conjunction with "Sue" held no meaning for Charis. All she knew was that she had to put this distasteful problem to rights as soon as possible. "Alright, then, I'm going to go in and check the situation out. If there is a Sue, and she's as weak as you say, then I'll bring her back to the Library on my way out of the fandom," she added the last part casually.

The Society leader prepared to ask Charis if she would be okay on what was technically her first-ever mission. Members who had no plans to become full Agents were not required to go through a training mission, after all. However, she decided not to insult the girl's capability. The Plot Summary claimed this Sue was the weakest they had ever encountered, so what really was the worst that could happen?

It was only after Charis had disappeared promptly through a Plothole – a good technician always kept basic equipment, as the minimum, on her person – that Tash realized such a stupid question would likely be met with a stupid answer in return.


The story of Jigoku Shoujo predominantly consisted of case-by-case incidents where a minor character developed some reason to hold a grudge against another person, whereupon they would call on the Jigoku Shoujo. She could be contacted through her website Hell Correspondence at exactly midnight, and only on the condition that you held enough hatred in your heart. Once you'd typed the name of the person whom you held a grudge against into the coded box, Jigoku Shoujo would appear in your presence and offer you a voodoo-like straw doll.

The contract would be complete at the instant you pulled the string tied around the doll, releasing the knot. Before she would let you proceed, however, she always warned "When one person is cursed, two graves are dug. When you die, your soul shall fall into the pit of Hell. Your spirit shall wander forever in pain and suffering, never having known paradise. Well, that's after you die. The rest is for you to decide."

Her warning rarely had any effect on the will of her customers.

Jigoku Shoujo had a history - a reason for her strange occupation - but the manga's plot rarely touched on it. In fact, on average, Jigoku Shoujo herself received maybe 5 pages of "screen time", and her three assistants received about that much attention altogether. The real protagonists of each chapter were the pitiful human contractors, but most readers were in disbelief that a teenage girl would sell her soul to get rid of a rival who happened to want the same boyfriend she did. No lie, that happened in the latest chapter released on MangaFox.

"All in all, this is not the typical fandom that a Sue would commonly pick, either," Charis mused aloud. "There's no sense in assuming the role of one of the minor characters, because they come and go like the seasons here. Besides, Lela has been the first Sue I've known willing to sell her soul – most wouldn't bother. But if the Sue has taken on the persona of Jigoku Shoujo, well then, the job is actually a punishment. Why would she want to confine herself to a fandom where she gets virtually no glory and is powerless to fulfill nobody's wishes but her own?" After hours of searching, Charis was no closer to finding her hacker or the Sue, who she had combined into one person in her mind by now.

Dusk was falling over Japan, and she was getting cold. She hadn't grabbed a jacket or anything before leaving for this fandom, so she still wore a halter tank and shorts that were appropriate for the Library's perpetually sunny weather, and not for the touch of night. "I've got to find somewhere to get warm." Down the street Charis could just make out a sign with the kanji ネカフェ that read "internet cafe". Did she have enough money to buy a hot drink and a chair?

She sighed. Her questing hands had found CAD 3.91, but it would be pointless to exchange it for yen. Not factoring in a guaranteed service charge, she would only get 327 yen in trade, and the cheapest cup of coffee in Tokyo was approximately 350 yen. "I didn't want to have to do this, but-" Charis muttered and drew out a small pill. In what had to be the most mundane use of an Oneshot ever Charis popped the pill and acquired the power of Hone Onna, the "Bone Woman" of the series. Stepping into the shadow of a nearby storefront, she waited for the next passerby, whom she revealed herself to with a dramatic thrashing of arms.

"Aiiiieeeee!" The longest string of letters that FanFiction would allow did not account for the absolute terror in the young Asian mother's scream.

As the woman ran away Charis consciously concealed all the bones in her body once more, and then she hefted the quite fashionable Crystal Ball Sweet Chocolate Hello Kitty bag she'd purse-snatched onto a shoulder. Projecting a completely innocent air, she entered the cafe she'd spotted earlier.

"Irasshai-mase! Nanika Osagashi desu ka?" (Hello! How may I help you?)

In response to the employee's infectious grin, Charis returned a smile of her own and replied, "Koohii o hitotsu kudasai." (Please give me a cup of coffee.)

"Wakari mashita. Ima, otori shimasu!" (Ok, I will get it for you!)

In no time at all, Charis took a seat at a table in one of the corners of the cafe. She sipped her coffee reflectively, and hashed through her thoughts as the hands on the clock above flew by. Truly, assuming the Sue had come into the fandom to oust Enma Ai, she would be more or less stuck now. The original Jigoku Shoujo had been presented the fate of being the "Hell Girl" as atonement. It was an ongoing mystery as to whether she would ever be freed of it. That her Sue powers were constrained would explain the low "power rating" that Tash had referred to, so if the Sue was the hacker then maybe she'd taken up her unconventional hobby because she was... bored.

There was really only one way to settle this. The Sue had to be the current Jigoku Shoujo. So to get in contact with Jigoku Shoujo, Charis just had to wait two more minutes according to the cafe's pink plastic clock, and then access Hell Correspondence. Charis shuffled around in her chair until she'd dragged it the metre towards the closest computer with an embarrassing screech.

"Gomennasai!" (Sorry!) Charis winced in sympathy of the employee's ears. Once her apology was acknowledged, she returned her attention to the clock face. 117 seconds… 118 seconds… 119 seconds… 120 seconds. With a deft hand Charis clicked the Go To bar in her internet browser, and a website full of crimson bloomed across the page. Set in the centre was the large script for "Hell" that had featured in the ad that plagued her.

Charis paused before the empty spot where she was supposed to type the name of her enemy. She had to sincerely hate someone, or else Jigoku Shoujo – Sue or not – wouldn't appear. Smiling evilly, she typed in Hannah Montana.

I've received your message.

Hell Girl

"Take this." Behind Charis, a hand proffered her a doll with a red string. She spun around triumphantly, and yes, this girl didn't have the long, straight black hair or ruby-red eyes of Emna Ai. The affected Jigoku Shoujo had coal-grey hair put up in a bun with pink chopsticks, and the eyes that stared back at the Society tech were emerald green.

"In the name of the Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society I arrest you for malicious computer crimes!" Charis said in all one breath.

The Jigoku Shoujo blinked. Once. Twice. "That's not how it's supposed to go. You're supposed to arrest me for fandom defacement, aren't you? And you don't even know my name. You're seriously under-informed."
Charis agreed to the accusation. "What is your name then, O computer hacker?"

She sniffed daintily. "I'm Emma Diffi Nair Deri Unice Queenie Ai."

Charis sputtered. The Sue's name sounded like nothing more than a mishmash of incomplete words. Perhaps Emma "Different Nary Derivative Unique Queen" Ai. (That's right. Don't ask.)

"Well, it's clear that you're from the Society, but you must be Charis, am I right?"

"Yes. You know that, don't you, because you were the one who planted a virus in my computer?"

"100 percent correct. Lela-sama asked me to."

"Wait, what?" Charis connected the dots between this "Lela-sama" and the only Lela she had ever known. "Do you mean to say you work for Lela Persim Spica Clover Ginger Sarah Minnie Kai-Lee?"

Emma's eyes darkened contemptibly. "I don't work for Lela-sama. She has the right to command me because she is a Level 6 whereas I am Level 1."

"You're less than Level 1, according to our computers."

"Pah! There's no such thing as a level below Level 1. However, the peculiarities of this position in the fandom have shielding properties that work against anyone attempting to read my strength."

"That's reassuring. A place where Sues can hide in plain sight. So why in the world would Lela have you hack my computer?" Again, Charis spoke as if there were no spaces between her words.

"You care about your laptop the most, don't you? Lela-sama says it's the only gift you've ever received from your Author. The most effective way to hurt you is to damage your laptop, and the most effective way to hurt your sister is to get you out of the way."

The depth of Mary Sues' depravity hit Charis with a strong blow. She felt some of her pacifism crumble away, especially where her once-removed sister Lela was concerned. "If that's Lela's goal, she made a mistake in giving the job to a weak Sue like you, didn't she?"

Emma's eyes darkened again in what was probably the only way she could express emotion without succumbing to the Sueish tendency to be a chatterbox. "I'm more than a match for you!"

The two of them came together with a kick on both their parts. Emma wasn't a trained fighter, and Charis – are you kidding me – wasn't a fighter period, so their attacks were jerky. If you've ever played Mortal Kombat against an unskilled opponent, you will have noticed that they will simply button-mash, or else they will play it safe by sticking to just one button that they know works. Both girls kicked as if they were being controlled by someone forcing them to perform Power High Kick repeatedly. B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B,B,B,B,B,B.

At last, Charis executed an unexpected Snap Kick. A. The one change in monotony was enough to throw Emma off balance, and Charis monopolized her opportunity to clasp a Prohibitor around the other girl's wrist. "I said that Lela made a mistake in giving the job to a weak Sue like you."

In defeat the only recourse left to Emma was to cry. "At least Lela-sama won't be captured by the likes of you. She and Viva have many more plans for you wretched siblings."

Charis' expression remained neutral this time. "Of course she has. Lela knows us best next to anyone but our Author. But thanks to you spilling your guts, next time Karissa and I will be on our guard. Thank you Emma!" Her tone was playful as she sent the Sue sailing through her Plothole with one more Low Chip Kick. DO+B.


Back in the Library, Charis made a remark to Tash as she handed over her prisoner to be taken down to the Basement.

"If Lela was really smart she would have told Emma to take me to Hell, instead of fooling around with computer viruses and luring me into a trap. Maybe she doesn't hate me as much as she hates Karissa, and that's why the God of Hell wouldn't permit it."

Charis knew Tash wasn't familiar with the fandom, but one day in the future the statement might click in her head. If Charis had any inclination to fill out her requisite paperwork, all the information she would need could be found in there, but come on, this was the Society. No one sane did their paperwork.


In the Science Department of the Library Charis read the nameplates on each door to determine which belonged to her yet-unvisited Inside lab. "Camille... Douglas..." she read the respective names on the doors to her left and right. "Ah, so mine must be-" She looked up to see her name on bright metal right in front of her eyes. She'd been standing by the correct door the whole time.

Grasping the doorknob, she walked inside.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Insert Masculine Program Name Here

The house existed. That was about it. It was not unlike the Library Arcanium in its strange geographical location, (or lack of) but unlike that fabled Library which existed between everywhere and nowhere, this mansion existed in someone's mind. A very specific someone, to be exact.

The butler strode stiffly through the massive entry hall. He was dressed in the usual butler attire, complete with tuxedo and towel draped across one arm. The light from the oversized crystalline chandeliers reflected off his shiny black hair.

As he passed a table in he hall, he glanced down his sharp, beak-like nose at a smudge in the glossed surface. Taking the cloth from his arm, he rubbed at the smudge vigorously. He had just finished putting the Young Mistress down to bed and with his Master and Mistress out of the house; he was now free to do as he pleased.

The smudge was being particularly obstinate. The butler frowned and rubbed harder when the doorbell rang.
The butler straightened up, the frown growing. That was odd, the Master and Mistress weren't supposed to be back for a long while yet, and considering the location of the mansion, they neverhad visitors...the Master and Mistress must've come home early...

The butler walked towards the door stiffly, draping the cloth back over his arm.

He opened the massive oak door, bowing deeply.

"Welcome home Master." He said deferentially in a British accent.

He glanced up when the person in front of him muttered something.

"Master?" He asked, straightening up and adjusting his monocle. "What are you wearing? And what on earth did you do to your hair?"

The figure didn't reply, just continued to point at the butler.

A whistling noise was heard. The butler looked up just in time to see something silver plummeting towards him.

The front entry hall exploded.


Ben sat in his room with the door locked; putting the finishing touches on the world he had created for Bella. All the mini-fandom was was basically was a high-school, but Ben had done his best to make it a believable one and one where Bella would be happy.

Given that Ben was the only one who knew the location of the pocket fandom, let alone about it's existence, meant that unless Bella used her Sue powers, nobody would ever find the place. Bella had promised Ben that she wouldn't tap into her abilities however, saying that after they had talked, she was curious and eager to develop her own wings out in the world.

Ben had just finished describing the greenhouse the school used to grow plants for a gardening class when someone banged on the door.

"Who is it?" Ben asked.

"It's me." Adrian sounded grim. "We need to talk."

Instantly Ben's heart leapt into his mouth. Had he found out about him and Bella? How? Just how much trouble was he in?

"I'm kinda busy right now!" Ben replied, struggling to keep his voice calm.

"It's about Deebs."

Ben froze, then got up and opened the door. "What happened?" He demanded.

Adrian looked as grim as he sounded. "Come with me."

Adrian led Ben to the computer room. Tash, Aster, Jess, Doug, Drake and Tyler were there also. Shirley stood there with her arms folded, fuming.

"What's going on?" Ben asked his muse.

"We got an e-mail from Neb." Tash said, walking over to one of the computers and jiggling the mouse to close the screensaver. With a few clicks a window opened, showing Ben's Pro-Cliché and Mary-Sue Protection Society counterpart holding up a short stick and leering at the camera. The stick was waving. The caption over the picture read. "I'M IN UR HEAD, KIDNAPPING UR KID!"

"What?" Ben shouted.

"Yeah, he's got Deebs." Shirley replied, still angry.

"What the hell was Seymour doing?" Ben demanded, as angry as his muse.

"I don't know, but when we get home I'm gonna do things to him that'll make him wish he'd never been born!" Shirley growled.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. First things first." Adrian interjected. "First off, who is Deebs?"

"She's our daughter." Ben growled, folding his arms.

Adrian looked blank. "Our..."

"Mine and Shirley's." Ben jerked his head toward his muse.

You could almost see the question marks popping up above heads all over the room. Then as one, various images popped into heads. Instantly half the room screwed up their faces in disgust and half the room doubled over in laughter.

"No!" Ben groused. "It's nothing like that!"

"Then...exactly how did that work?" Adrian asked, trying to keep the grossed-out expression out of his face.
Ben sighed. "You all know Shirley is my muse, right?" There was a series of nods.

"Well in that sense, she's a part of me; she's the physical manifestation of my creative energy."

Adrian nodded. "Go on..."

"One day a friend of ours was screwing around and she GLOMPED Shirley and broke a piece off of her."
Everyone turned to stare at the Cliché Stick.

"I got better..." she provided lamely.

"The piece that broke off eventually developed a mind of its own and became Deebs." Ben concluded.

Aster shook her head. "That has GOT to be the most confusing threesome I've ever heard of."

Ben smiled wryly. "That's what I said."

Adrian cleared his throat. "Well that answers that. So then, who's Seymour?"

"Our butler."

Doug blinked. "You've got a butler?"

Ben nodded. "Yep."

"Aren't you still in high school? How do you pay him?"

"I don't attack him." Shirley put in.

Ben nodded. "Pretty much, he works for us and in return, Shirley leaves him alone. One of his duties is taking care of Deebs while we're away."

Jess frowned. "Wait, Deebs is a Cliché Stick too, isn't she? Shouldn't she be able to take care of herself?"

"Not necessarily, Deebs is still a baby, remember?"

"She does have quite a bit of power though, even at her age." Shirley put in. She turned to Ben. "Remember when I threw the wolverine in her crib with her?"

Ben winced. "Oh, god, how could I forget? I had nightmares for weeks!"

Tash looked appalled. "You threw one of the most dangerous animals in the world in a baby's crib?"

Shirley beamed with pride. "I know, right? Deebs had that puppy doing the dance from "Thriller" in less than five minutes!"

Ben grimaced. "To answer your question, Deebs may still be a baby, but her power level fluctuates so much that it's impossible to tell if she's not taking out Neb just because she doesn't want to or because she's too weak!"

He pulled out his Plothole Generator. "But either way, I'm getting her out of there! Tash, where'd the e-mail come from?"

Tash made a few quick keystrokes. "Mega Man Fandom."

"X, Battle Network, or Star Force?"

"Battle Network."

Ben nodded grimly. "Right. Let's go, Shirley!"

"Right behind ya!"

But Adrian stepped in front of Ben. "And just where do you think you're going?" The Librarian asked.

Ben blinked. "To… the Mega Man fandom?"

"Think!" Adrian urged. "It's obviously a trap! There's no way I can just let you rush headlong into it like that alone!"

"Don't talk to me about obvious traps!" Ben shot back. "Michael went after Claire didn't he? And you went to rescue Tash!"

"That was completely different!" Adrian insisted. "In my case the entire Society including you had turned against me! When Michael went, he got infected with the Darkness, and both times the three of us were nearly killed!"

The two of them stared each other down for a moment longer before Ben was forced to look away. Adrian sighed.

"Look. I never said I wouldn't let you go. I did say I wouldn't let you go alone."

Ben looked up hopefully.

Adrian looked around. "Anybody free and know anything about Mega Man?"

"I don't know anything about it, but I'll go!" Doug volunteered.

"Uh, no." Ben coughed. "Every time we go on a mission together I end up getting in trouble!"

Doug sulked as Adrian nodded. "OK, anyone else know anything about Battle Network?"

Tyler raised his hand. "I do."

Ben grabbed Tyler. "Come on then!"

"Wait a minute…." Tyler was cut off as Shirley lunged at him, grabbing him by the throat.

"Get moving. Now."

"Yes ma'am," Tyler squeaked. He quickly shot up to his room, grabbed his ping-pong paddle and Society gadgets, and zoomed back down, stopping next to the portal.

"Okay, so let's go!"

The three of them jumped into the fandom.


Mega Man fandom, Undernet, first level.

Neb grinned evilly. Finally. With a little help, he had managed to kidnap Deebs! Ben and Shirley would come running to save her and best of all, he would be the one with reinforcements!

"I'm booooorrreedd!"

Neb turned. What the-? I tied her up!

Deebs ran over to Neb. "I'm bored! I got out of all those knots! Tie me up again!"

Neb ignored her.

"I said… TIE ME UP!" Deebs jumped at Neb, grabbing his head and slamming it to the ground hard enough to revert the section of the Net he had hit back into zeroes and ones.

"Okay, okay!" Neb grabbed a huge length of rope out of nowhere and began tying up the baby Cliché Stick.

"What did I do to deserve this?" he moaned. Suddenly a small Plothole opened and Relyt dropped out of it.

"So you're Ben's double. That's that. Now prepare instead of wasting your time tying up someone who won't escape!" Relyt punctuated this with a blast, smashing another hole into the Net. He then stepped back into his Plothole and disappeared. Neb groaned.


Mega Man Fandom, AC/DC Town.

Ben, Tyler, and Shirley dropped out of the Plothole, landing painfully on the ground. Tyler hopped to his feet, followed by Ben and Shirley. The three of them surveyed their surroundings.

"Great… We landed in the real world. Neb will be on the Net," Shirley groaned.

"How do you know that?" Ben and Tyler asked simultaneously.

"You said it when you were discussing ideas for this one-shot."

The two Agents looked at each other and shrugged.

"Okay, so we know something. How do we get on the Net?" Tyler asked.

"We could steal someone's PET," Ben suggested.

"How would a dog or cat help us get on the Net? Anyway, too conspicuous, and jail is boring. Anything else?"

"We could try making a PET," Shirley said.

"Yeah, you could use your Ping-Pong paddle to create one."

"For some reason, anything involving adding new tricks to this paddle usually results in a bang." Then Tyler grinned.

"Maybe one of us could go into the Net as a Navi?"

Ben and Shirley exchanged a look.

"Okay. I vote Shirley," Ben said, before Shirley could say anything.

"Why me?"

"You're the most like a Navi." Tyler spoke up, quickly regretting it as Shirley smashed him into a nearby fence.

"Okay," Ben said as Tyler climbed out of the fence's wreckage. "To keep the canon character death rate down, we should send someone else too." Ben said. Immediately, he and Tyler pointed at each other, saying, "You."

"What? She's your muse, you should go!"

"I'm been dealing with her for years! You can take a few hours!"

"STOP ARGUING!" Shirley screeched, grabbing the two by the head and slamming them together.

"Owww…" they mumbled.

"Tyler, have you beaten the game?"

"Yes. Why?"

"In that case, you're going. You know what's going to happen, so you can avoid any canon enemies. Now get us on the Net!"

"Okay, okay!" Tyler ran to a nearby hardware store to buy a PET before realizing something. "I only have five dollars…"

Shirley turned around and mugged a wealthy looking passerby.

"Here's five hundred dollars."

"Shirley!" Ben shouted.

"What? All I did was mug him!"

Tyler took the money and headed into the hardware store.

"Does this store sell PET's?" He asked the clerk.

"Yes. The price is $300. And for an extra $100, it comes with a "Convert Real Life Matter into Digital Data Tube!" The salesman chirped.

Tyler blinked, turning back in time to see Ben slipping a Plot Device into his pocket.

"We'll take it." Tyler handed over the money, took the PET, or PErsonal Terminal, and followed Ben and Shirley out of the shop.

"Okay, so we can get on the Net. Shirley, you first."

Shirley poked her head in the general area of the tube, and suddenly, she began to shrink. Just as she was about to become small enough to fit in the dime-sized tube, the shrinking stopped.

"What now?" Tyler groaned.

"We should have known. Wood is a bad conductor of electricity." Ben quipped, attempting to shove Shirley into the PET.

"Just keep pushing," Tyler replied.

"If you took that out of context…"

Without even bothering to look, Tyler took out his Ping-Pong paddle and smacked Ben upside the head.

"Just a joke…" Finally, Tyler and Ben succeeded in shoving Shirley through the tube. Then Tyler hopped in, and the two were in the Net.


The Undernet…

Neb was still setting up mines, viruses, and various other painful methods of dying, when his communicator beeped, and Relyt's face appeared on the screen.

"Neb, they've entered the Net. Get ready." Relyt disappeared. Again.


Also in the Undernet… somehow…

Tyler and Shirley appeared in a shower of digital rain. The first thing Tyler noticed was that Shirley was now wearing a solid brown bike helmet. He felt his own head, and realized that he was too. It was rainbow-colored, and on each temple, the Society logo was visible. He was also wearing a similarly colored bodysuit with the Society logo where his emblem would be. Tyler grinned.

It seems we're on the Net, but...where the heck is Neb?

Shirley seemed to be wondering the same things. "Where the heck is Neb?"'s like the whole thing is being written by a bad comedian...

Ben watched from the PET's screen as Tyler and Shirley entered the Undernet.

"You guys OK?" He asked.

Tyler gave him the thumbs up.

"Good. Shirley, being turned into a program hasn't affected your strength any, has it?"

The Cliché Stick frowned, flexed her claws and punched Tyler as hard as she could. The Agent went flying off the screen.

"I'll take that as a no." Ben said as Tyler crawled back on-screen. There was a large crack defacing his helmet.

"Y-you owe me for this." He gasped. Ben smirked. "Welcome to my world."

"Enough, boys!" Shirley snapped. "Tyler, you said you beat the game, right? Is there any way to detect someone's location down here?"

"Erm, just a guess guys, but is that the way?"

Ben's face was floating on a large screen in the Undernet. He pointed and the other two turned to look.

A series of signposts were arranged along the net. Each read "This way to kidnapped child!"

There was silence for a long moment.

"It's probably a trap, isn't it?" Tyler asked.

Ben nodded. "Pretty much."

Tyler nodded. "Good. Let's go!"

Ben sighed. "And to think I was such a relatively rational person before I joined the Society. Now I feel like a Jedi..."

"Quit grumbling!" Shirley snapped as she brushed past Tyler. Unfortunately just as she passed the first sign, she stepped on a hidden switch.

Instantly alarms started going off and red lights began to flash all around.

"Oh, C'mon!" Ben groaned. "She doesn't even have legs! How is she supposed to 'step' on something?"

"You're asking me?" Tyler asked. "You're the one writing this part!"

The two of them looked at each other for a moment and shrugged again.

"If you two have finished your fourth-wall references, we've got company!" Shirley called.

The two boys turned in time to see an entire swarm of Mettaurs surging towards them.

Ben raised an eyebrow. "Looks like lunch for you, Shirley!"

There were at least 50 of the safety-helmet-wearing, pick axe-wielding viruses.

Shirley bared her teeth and with a yowl, jumped into the charging swarm, tearing through the low-level viruses like rice paper.

Tyler grabbed his paddle and quickly shifted it into it's staff form. With a cry of "Muffins!" He too charged forward and smacked the nearest virus with the staff as hard as he could.

The blow glanced off the Mettaur's helmet. Tyler gulped. The virus just looked at him blankly.

"Battlechip in! Cannon!"

Instantly, Tyler's hand shifted into a large boxy cannon.

"Huh?" He turned to look at Ben.

Ben smirked at him from the floating screen.

"We had a little cash left over from Shirley's mugging, so I went to go buy some Battlechips!" He held up a hand full of small cards.

Tyler frowned. "When did you have time to go do that?"

"About the same time that Mettaur behind you got ready to bash your skull in."

"Huh? AGH!" BOOM!

Tyler turned just in time to see the Mettaur raising its axe to strike. With a cry of surprise he started and fired the cannon, blowing the tiny virus away.

Tyler rolled his eyes. "Uh, yeah, we already kinda figured that out from the 'Huh? AGH!' BOOM! thing, Narrator-Guy."

Well, I was just making sure; don't take it out on me...why does everybody hate me? *sobs*

Shirley growled as she split a Mettaur in two. "Quit sobbing like a wimp and get back to narrating! I swear to Yggdrasil if anything happens to my kid thanks to your delay of plot, I'll make you wish you were dead!"

Ben rolled his eyes. "Hey, Tyler, here!" He called, slotting another Battlechip into the PET.

The cannon on Tyler's arm morphed into a four-barreled cylinder.

"I figure a Gatling gun would be more useful for large numbers of foes." Ben explained.

Tyler nodded and turning sprayed the entire horde of Mettaurs with bullets. There was an assorted chorus of squeaks and squawks as the viruses were deleted.

Shirley shot Tyler a look as the last Mettaur vanished. "I wasn't finished yet, you know!" She growled.

"Oh, cool it, girl." Ben said, toying with a Battlechip. "There'll be plenty of stronger foes later on. Plus we need to hurry. We still need to get Deebs out of there, remember?"

Shirley grumbled but agreed.

"So I guess we keep following the Obvious-Trap Road?" Tyler asked, his arm shifting back to normal.

Shirley shot him another look. "If not for the fact that my kid's life is on the line, I'd get you for that. And yes."


Thousands of miles away… okay, not really, but I've always wanted to say that…

Several minutes later…

Tyler and Shirley were walking through the Undernet. Well, Shirley was running, and Tyler was being forcibly dragged, not having moved fast enough for the Cliché Stick. Suddenly-

"Suddenly you decided you were bored of the dialogue and decided to randomly insert a fight scene you jerk of an author!" screamed Shirley.

Well, yes, that's one way of putting it-

"Just get to the story!" Shirley yelled.

Fine, fine. Suddenly, several viruses materialized out of nowhere. Shirley immediately let go of Tyler and assumed the equivalent of a fighting stance. Tyler rolled out from behind her, rapidly drawing his staff. They looked over the viruses. They resembled a skeleton, but with a tail instead of legs, and no lower jaw. Tyler groaned.

"Skarabs. It just had to be Skarabs." One of the Skarabs hurled a bone at Tyler, who jumped to one side. However, the bone followed him wherever he went for several more seconds, then disappeared. Tyler slashed with his staff, and several Skarabs crumpled into piles of bones. Shirley lunged forwards, and the remaining Skarabs collapsed. Shirley blinked.

"That was surprisingly easy."

Tyler groaned.

"Actually, the only enemy harder to defeat than Skarabs are Domineros. They only take one hit per Battlechip, so Vulcans are useless." As if on cue, all the Skarabs reformed, hurling bones at the two. Ben quickly grabbed a Battlechip and inserted it.

"Bubbleshield!" A clear bubble appeared around Tyler, shielding him from the bones. Shirley, on the other hand, was sent flying.

"Ow! What was that for?"

"Consider it payback for years of pain," Ben chuckled. Shirley growled and slashed again, bringing down several more Skarabs. Ben inserted another Battlechip.

"Meteors!" Tyler pointed at the Skarabs, and a hail of Asteroids slammed into them, doing serious damage. Shirley continued slashing, even deleting a few of the skeletons. Tyler grinned.

"It looks like we're winni-OH CRAP!" Three green plaque-like viruses had appeared out of nowhere. They simply floated in midair, waiting until Tyler and Shirley had destroyed the rest of the Skarabs. Then Tyler stepped into one's line of sight. It teleported right in front of him, revealing sharp claws that slashed across Tyler's face, sending him flying for the second or third time in this fic. Shirley lunged forward, slashing, but the strike seemed to do nothing. The Dominero whipped out it's claws and knocked Shirley away.

"What just happened?" Shirley demanded.

"A Dominero only takes one point of damage per hit unless you catch it at the right time, which is practically impossible. Ben, do you have any break-type chips?"

Ben quickly scanned his Chip lineup.

"I have one. I'm giving it to Shirley."

Tyler dove for cover. As Ben inserted the Battlechip, Shirley's claw transformed into a giant drill, smashing through one of the Domineros and deleting it, and doing some damage to the one conveniently located behind it. Ben inserted another chip.

"Quaker!" Tyler hurled a large sphere into the air. As it reached a point over the head of one of the Domineros, it turned into a giant bell-shaped weight, crushing the second Dominero. The third lunged at Tyler, who moved slightly to one side, avoiding the blow. It teleported back to its starting position, but before it could attack again, Shirley connected with another Drill, deleting the third virus. Tyler and Shirley both cheered.

"Now," Shirley grumbled. "Do you think we can proceed, or does the author have more stuff to bug us with?"

More stuff. You two annoy me.

"But I'm you're creation!" protested Tyler.

Who is based off me, who annoys other people. Now anyway, let me get back to the description. A virus popped out of nowhere.

"Hey, I'm not a virus!" yelled Neb.

Oops, my bad. Anyway, Neb popped out of nowhere. As usual-

"How can it be 'as usual'? Neb has only appeared in one story!" Shirley argued.

*snap* A lightning bolt shot down from nowhere, sending the Cliché Stick flying.

Stop criticizing my writing, or I will delete you to the tune of "What I've Done." Now, where was I… oh yes, Neb popped out of nowhere. As usual, he was dressed in all leather, and his hair was slicked back. Tyler pulled out his staff and shifted into an arbitrarily decided-on combat stance. His staff was in his left hand, and behind his back, while his other hand was outstretched in the classic "bring it on," position. Shirley didn't bother with that. She charged right at Neb.

"Mess with Nukes!" Neb yelled, and a warhead fell towards Shirley. Tyler whipped his staff around into his right hand, sending out a wave of energy that sent the missile flying off into the distance. An explosion was heard, followed by a cat screeching. Tyler winced.

"Sorry about that!" Tyler turned his attention back to the fight. Shirley had grabbed Neb by the leg and was slamming him repeatedly into the ground. After several minutes of this, she got bored, so she grabbed him by the overly-large collar and slammed him up against a wall that Tyler seemed to have pulled out of nowhere. Shirley blinked.

"Wait, where did that come from?"

"It's my Wall of Defense. I keep it in my pocket."

"Oh." Shirley turned back to Neb. "Now, WHERE IS MY KID?"

Neb chuckled.

"Heh. What makes you think I'll tell you?"

Shirley tightened her grip, pressing Neb hard against the wall.

"This makes me think you'll tell me. If you don't, I will rip out every one of your organs in a way that you'll survive until the last one is gone. And considering the fact that Yelrihs is a pacifist, I doubt you have Ben's level of tolerance for pain."

Neb paled. "You wouldn't dare."

Tyler tapped Neb on the shoulder. "Actually, Noob, she probably would."

Completely forgetting that he was about to be eviscerated by an angry stick, Neb realized something.

"Hey! My name isn't Noob, it's Neb."

"That's what I said; Noob," replied Tyler, an expression of confusion on his face.

"No! Not Noob, Neb. With an E."

"I know. That's what I said, Noob."

"IT'S NE-oh forget it."

"Forget what, Noob?"


"Doing what, Noob?" asked a quizzical Tyler.

"OKAY, THAT'S IT! YOU DIE, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!" Neb tried to lunge for Tyler, but he was forcibly restrained by Shirley.

"I will ask you one last time. Where… is… my… KID?" Shirley screamed, obviously on the verge of insanity.

"Not telling!" giggled Neb. "Because my reinforcements have arrived." Tyler and Shirley turned around. Out of a gaping Plothole, three figures walked into the Net. One was a carbon copy of Tyler. One could have been Drake's twin. The third resembled Shirley, but quickly ran to hide. Neb grinned wickedly.

"Now… let the battle begin."

Tyler and Relyt made the first move, each sending a blast of magic at the other. Shirley sidestepped them both, charging at Ekard. Yelrihs, in the meantime, had run away and was hiding behind a large block.

Tyler was thrown backwards by a burst of energy from Relyt's staff, stumbling into a Shirley-punched Ekard. The two whirled around, Ekard swinging his spear, and Tyler firing a blast of magic, sending both flying.

Ben pounded his fist against his thigh, his eyes glued to the PET's screen. His friends were fighting for his daughter on the Net, and he was stuck in the real world!

He briefly considered trying a nuking attack, but decided against it. There was no guarantee that the warhead would manifest on the Net. It could very well end up nuking the PET and severing his friends only chance of returning to the real world.

Suddenly, a movement on the PET's screen caught his eye. His breath caught in his throat.

"Shirley! Look out!"

The Cliché Stick turned just in time to take a blow head on from Ekard's spear.

Electricity juddered across her bark as Ekard laughed manically.

The lightning dissipated, leaving the muse smoking.

Shirley raised an eyebrow. "That all you got?" She asked.

Ekard paled. "How-?"

"I'm a stick Re-kard! Electricity doesn't affect me!"

"Oh..." Ekard paled.

"Hey, Shirley!" Ben smirked. "I've got a little something to even the score!"

With several quick movements Ben slipped two Battlechips into their corresponding slots.

"Battlechip in! Widesword, Longsword!"

Instantly Shirley's claws morphed into blades.

"Very nice." She murmured.

Ekard scoffed. "And just what are those going to do?" He asked before swinging his spear at the Cliche Stick.

The spear suddenly stopped with a jolt. The spearhead however did not.

Shirley held up one of the glowing claw blades as Ekard looked from his sparking spear shaft to the armed section of wood in front of him.

"...Yeah, listen I just remembered something I need to take care of soooo..."

Shirley grinned evilly. "Oh, no you don't. You're staying right here with me, big boy."

Ekard briefly considered trying to fight, but in the end the smart side of his brain won out. With a squeak, he turned and ran.

"Get back here!" Shirley shrieked, giving chase.

"Hey!" Ben complained from his screen. "That's MY gimmick!"

"SCREW YOU!" Ekard and Shirley screamed in unison.

Ben growled. "We'll see about that... Tyler!"

Tyler knocked Relyt off his feet with a swipe of his staff and turned to Ben.

"Here!" Ben barked. "Battlechip in!"

Tyler's free hand instantly formed into a cylindrical cannon. He spun, took aim and fired.

Ekard's eyes widened. "Oh, come on!" The blast of air lifted him off his feet and hurled him backwards.

"Batter up!" Shirley yelled, hauling back with one of the swords and slashing at the air-borne Protection Agent as hard as she could.

The glowing blade sliced straight through Ekard's armor and cut out a small chunk of his skin too.

He stumbled to the ground, his armor flickering for a moment before de-activating.

"Argh," He groaned, clutching at his wound. "You'll pay for that!"

And before Shirley could inflict any more damage to him, he summoned a Plothole and vanished.

Tyler chuckled and turned away as Shirley continued to rant over the loss of her prey. He twirled his staff between his fingers a few times as Relyt got to his feet. "My turn."

Relyt paled slightly. Tyler was about to charge when….

"…rule the world."

Tyler turned in time to watch death by coffee plow towards him and Shirley. The Cliche Stick stabbed one of her swords through the surface of the net, slashing a wide scar open. The flood of coffee surged into the gap and vanished, leaving Shirley unharmed.

Tyler wasn't so lucky though. The torrent of coffee knocked him off his feet, sending him flying backwards into a block of data.



"Huh?" Shirley turned in time to see a brown blur shoot towards her, knocking her down. Tyler stood up… then dived back down to avoid being trampled by the ecstatic Cliché Stick. Deebs slammed into the data block, shattering it and revealing a curled-up Yelrihs. Deebs ground to a halt.

"Huh? Two mommies?"

Yelrihs smirked.

"I'm your mommy, Deebs! Come with us!"

Shirley snarled.

"WHHHAAAAAAATTT? I'm your mom, Deebs! Remember when I threw that wolverine in your crib?"

Yelrihs blanched (somehow).

"YOU THREW A WOLVERINE IN A BABY'S… well, er, I mean…."

Deebs pointed at Yelrihs. "Fake mommy!"

Yelrihs started backing away. Then Deebs charged.

The stick was like a one-stick army. She knocked Neb and Relyt to one side, grabbed Yelrihs, slammed her on the ground several times, then began spinning her in circles.

Yelrihs was very dizzy. She didn't know how she was perceiving anything but the incredible speed at which she was spinning. Then she heard a crack and felt a stab of pain. The sensation repeated. Then another time. And another. She realized she was starting to snap from the G-forces.

Then Deebs let go.

Yelrihs shot through the air like a wooden bullet, headed directly at Neb. The Protection Society Agent went into the Fast-Step, the stick seeming to pass through him. Relyt created an energy blast to block with, but even as he fired, Yelrihs slammed into him. Then all hell broke loose.


Ask every being witnessing those next ten seconds to describe them, and each would have given you a different story.

Relyt only saw blackness as the explosion knocked him unconscious.

Yelrihs experienced an incredible, blinding light, piercing every facet of her existence.

Neb saw the world blurring around him, then stars as his head collided painfully with the ground.

Deebs saw the blackness of limbo, then the comforting warmth of her home.

Shirley saw many-colored flashes of light, as she blindly lashed out with a Plothole Generator, trying to get Deebs away.

Tyler saw creation being undone and remade in a million horrible ways. Or that's what he said he saw. He might be lying.

Ben only saw a screen of static.

The one thing everyone would agree on, is that at the end of those ten seconds, they all (except Deebs and Ben) were lying facedown in the Undernet. Slowly each of them climbed to their feet. Relyt gave a rasping cough.

"You may have beaten us here… but I've have one more trick up our sleeves."

For a faint moment, a chip flickered above Relyt's head. It was purple, with purple flames surrounding it. Tyler, Shirley, and Ben all paled.

Then, from nowhere, a voice spoke.

"Darkchip in! Meteor!"

A huge vortex opened above the five, and a swarm of meteors plummeted from it, aiming at Tyler and Shirley. They easily dodged or blocked the first few, but a double hit shattered Tyler's shield, sending him flying into Shirley. The two quickly jumped to their feet, and they heard a familiar yell.

"Battlechip, in!"

Tyler's eyes widened.

"There are several Battlechips that can turn the tables right now. Please let this be one of them."



Another vortex opened in the sky. This time though, instead of meteors, a huge fist with an Xbox logo on the back of its hand rocketed toward Neb and Relyt, tearing through the Darkchip and the remainder of the meteors and smashing with incredible force into the ground between them, kicking up a huge cloud of dust. Relyt smirked.

"Looks like you missed!" he called through the dust. Then a huge shockwave tore through the cloud, blasting him and Neb off their feet.

Relyt snarled as he got to his feet. "Screw this, Neb! We can't win, let's bail!" He quickly opened a plothole.

"No!" Neb raged he pointing at Shirley. "I may not have managed to lure Ben here, but at least I'll take you out! This is for threatening me earlier! Mess with nukes!"

Shirley just rolled her eyes and, raising one clawed hand, caught the warhead in mid-air.

"Seriously," Ben said from the real world as Neb paled. "Shirley and I've been together for years! You really think a little thing like a nuke is gonna faze her?"

Shirley spun the nuke around in her hand and hurled the explosive at Neb like a football before both she and Tyler jacked out of the Undernet.

"Neb," Relyt growled as the nuke flew towards them. "If we die, I'm gonna kill you."

Neb was about to make a smart comment when the nuke collided.


"So, you don't know what happened to Neb and Relyt?" Tash asked as Ben and Tyler sat at the kitchen table, chowing down.

"Nope." Tyler said, taking a big bite of pizza.

"When a nuke goes off, I don't generally stick around." Ben agreed as he took a swig from his flask. "Especially not when it's the size and strength of the one Neb summoned."

"I guess that makes sense." Tash sighed. "I just wish we could get some concrete information on these people. Where's Shirley, by the way?"

"She's back at the mansion, no doubt chewing out Seymour and getting Deebs settled back in."

"That thing's a terror," Tash agreed. "No offence, Ben, but I'm glad you didn't have your daughter come here."

"I've already got my hands full with Shirley." Ben snorted, setting his flask back down on the table. "Do you honestly think I'm suicidal enough to have TWO Cliche Sticks under one roof?"

Suddenly Tyler started coughing, thumping his own chest with one hand.

"You OK?" Tash asked.

"I'm fine." Tyler wheezed. "Just went down the wrong pipe is all. I just need something to drink."

And before anyone could do anything, he snatched Ben's flask off the table and took a deep drink.

"...Oh, boy" Tash said.

"You might want to take cover." Ben agreed, unconcernedly.

Tyler appeared to be frozen, but there was a silly grin plastered on his face and if you looked very closely he was vibrating at a high rate.

With a sudden cry of "Nya-HAH!" he leapt up from the table and raced out of the kitchen at high speed.
Tash looked in the direction he ran helplessly. "Will he be alright?"

Just then Tyler came sprinting back in at full blast. "-"

His speech was cut short as he ran full tilt into the wall and knocked himself out.

Tash stared at the crumpled figure on the floor as Ben shrugged nonchalantly. "I dunno."