Saturday, August 6, 2011

Insert Complicated-Sounding Al Bhed Here

It is a universally acknowledged fact, no matter which world you live in, that as soon as things start going well, there will always be something just waiting around the corner to screw everything up.

It had been four years since Sin had been purged from Spira, and two years since the destruction of Vegnagun, and the return of Yuna's guardian Tidus. With the three main political factions now working together, the future seemed bright for a world that for so long had known only destruction at the hands of a spiral of death.

Yuna and Tidus had settled on Besaid, retiring from politics, magic and sphere hunting, to enjoy some well deserved peace. The Gullwings frequently stopped by, Rikku bursting with news about the latest piece of Spira's history they had unearthed, and Paine quietly pleased with the way things were going, and occasionally interjecting to tease Rikku about how 'friendly' she and Gippal seemed to be these days, to which the Al Bhed would blush and splutter how there was 'nothing going on at all', all the while proclaiming Paine to be a 'big meanie'.

Things had been perfect.

And then, like magic, everything had gone horribly wrong.

A mass outbreak of fiends, much likes the ones of two years ago, had begun, sending temple cities into panic, and shattering the once peaceful atmosphere. Fearing the worst, the Gullwings, Yuna and Tidus included, had fought their way through the fiends in Besaid temple and into the Chamber of the Fayth. However unlike last time, they found no dark aeon – or indeed any aeon or Fayth at all. Just fiends, multiplying at an alarming rate.

The numbers were phenomenal, and the threat was unstoppable. Though the Gullwings flew to the other cities to check the other temples, the fiends just kept coming back, in more vast numbers. The cities were evacuated, though the only truly safe places left were Mt Gagazet, Bikanel Island, the Moonflow, Mushroom Rock Road and Luca.

And there was no explanation either – no one knew what had sparked this outbreak. Even Yuna and Tidus, who knew the farplane more intimately than anyone alive, were at a loss.

Things seemed hopeless.

Until out of the farplane, appeared their saviours. Both wielding black and white magic, and both possessing exceptional warrior skill. But more amazing of all, they could somehow call aeons, even though the faith had been resting for the past four years.

No one understood it. And yet at the same time they did not want to. With all their powers behind them, these strange twins worked in perfect sync to destroy all the fiends, and restore peace to Spira again. They ensured that the dead were sent to the farplane to rest, and then they stood and smiled as the public began showering them with praise and thanks.

The Gullwings were among the thankful, though they were curious too. Upon meeting them, the two saviours were questioned, until it was finally revealed that the twins were summoners, and highly talented ones at that. They had lost almost all their family to Sin, and had spent the last four years in the farplane trying to find a way to bring them all back. Upon sensing the fiends escaping into Spira, they had emerged, and used the powers they had developed in the farplane – including the ability to summon the supposedly resting aeons – to help them.

The story was suspicious, particularly to Yuna and Tidus's ears, and there was still no explanation as to where the fiends had come from in the first place, but they did not want to say anything. The twins had clearly suffered, and missed their families greatly, and it did not seem right to try and force a satisfactory answer out of them.

And so the twins became Spiras new heroes. They settled just outside Djose temple, so that they could be relatively close to two of the main factions in Spira, and in the thick of all the action.

Yet despite the fact they had saved everyone, rumours began to spread around the Al Bhed who lived near the temple. Of machina parts going missing suddenly, and a strange girl who bore a resemblance to the twins, sneaking around the temple, and of a lost sister whom none of them had ever heard of...



"Adrian if I said 'no' the first thirty eight times you asked me, what makes you think I'm going to say 'yes' the thirty ninth time?"

The kitten-eared Librarian cuddled up to his girlfriend's chest, moving slowly so as not to aggravate his still healing senses. He was currently wearing a pair of glasses until his vision returned to normal, and the Medical ward had been designated a whispering zone in light of his ears.

"You're only saying that because you know I want to..."

Tash, who was turning a page of The Valley of the Horses as he spoke, rolled her eyes.

"You're not getting anything, least of all that."

A pout worked its way onto the Librarian's face.

"I won't strain myself. And it'll make you happy. You know it will..."

"I'd be happier if you stayed in bed until you were fully healed," Tash informed him, not looking up from her book.

"...I'll be really quick-"

"Adrian. No. And that's final."

The pout became more prominent, but Adrian knew he wouldn't shift his girlfriend by begging. He would have to try something else. Smirking a little to himself, he snuggled a little closer and kissed her cheek gently. Tash gave an exasperated sigh and let her book fall to the bed.

"You can't seduce me into saying yes, you know."

"I can try," Adrian assured her, kissing over her jaw and down to her neck. He was rewarded with a small shiver.

"Damn it..." Tash muttered, and Adrian chuckled.

"Please?" he asked, as sweetly as he could, before sucking gently on her pulse. Tash gave a moan, but she still shook her head.

"No... you're still injured..."

The Librarian gave his most adorable pout.

"But you're up and moving," Adrian gave a soft sigh as his girlfriend stroked the back of his neck.

"I got the crap beat out of me," Tash reminded him. "You got chased, beaten, stabbed, blinded, had your ears blown out and got the crap beat out of you-"

She was silenced by a firm kiss.

"Must resist," Tash chanted in her mind. "Must resist...bollocks...I can't resist him..."


The two broke apart, blushing.

"We weren't doing anything!" Tash spluttered, to a smirking trio of Welsh girls, and one hyperactive dog.

"Suuuuure..." Beth nodded. "We believe you."

Tash blushed harder.

"Beth if you say a word about this to anyone, I'm telling Jenny about your little trysts with Captain Jack!"

Beth waved a hand. "Jenny won't mind. She knows I like my bit on the side."

Adrian was positive he was missing some kind of inside joke between the four friends, as all of them immediately broke into identical giggles. It wasn't surprising though - Tash and the Welsh girls knew each other very well in Real Life as well as in the Library.

"What's up then?" Tash asked, once the fit had subsided. "I'm guessing you didn't come to see how we were doing?"

She had not missed that all of them were kitted out for a mission, guns in holsters, prohibitors clipped to their belts, and their respective musical instruments clutched in their hands – no one had ever asked the Welsh girls exactly what purpose a bassoon, a cornet and a flute served in catching Mary-Sues, but given the crazy nature of these three girls, it was probably safer that way. Emma took a step forwards.

"We need a favour."

"If you're asking for clearance to the Star Wars fandom again, then forget it," Tash said firmly. "You know its on the Black List for a damn good reason."

"We know..." the Welsh Girls replied in unison, though Beth was still patting her flute in the manner one would comfort a disappointed child.

"We need to borrow your Plot Summary," Kate asked. Tash, who had been petting Adrian's healing ears ever so gently to distract him, ceased suddenly, causing the Librarian to mewl is displeasure.

"May I ask why?"

"There are really high Sue ratings coming from the Final Fantasy X and X-2 fandom," Beth explained. "We've tried to trace the source down to a particular Sue, but it keeps splitting... which means there's more than one, or they're so powerful they're throwing the signal off."

"We thought the Summary could tell us more when we get there," Emma finished. Tash thought about it, before bending over the side of her bed, and grabbing her bag.

"How strong are the ratings?"

"Level six," Emma reported. "Of that we're sure. They're very consistent. It's just when you try to trace them they start going mad."

"So either there's more than one Level six," Tash said, rummaging around in her bag with an irritated look on her face. "Or they're so powerful they can disguise their signature."

"Let's hope its the latter," Kate said, tapping her foot impatiently. Tash growled, tipped the bag upside down, and shook it, but nothing appeared.

"What do you keep in there?" Adrian asked.

"You don't wanna know," Beth shook her head. "We've heard noises come out of there before."

As she spoke, Tash turned the bag back the right way up and pulled her Duel Disk out of the top – apparently what had been causing the blockage – followed by a notebook, her pills, her duelling deck, her camera, her Bakura plushie, a copy of Cosmopolitan, a bottle of water, a rubber duck and her purse.

"You see what I mean?" Beth asked, as Emma picked up the rubber duck and began squeezing it with a grin on her face.

"Keep it," Tash told her, shaking her mobile phone and her keys into her lap, followed at last by the Plot Summary. "Voila!"

"Merci," Kate thanked, taking it from her.

"Ayez l'amusement!" Beth winked at them both, and had to duck the Bakura plushie that was suddenly launched at her head.

"Get out of here!" Tash ordered, and giggling, the three girls and one dog left. Tash set about repacking her bag, but stopped when she saw the expression on her boyfriend's face.

"What?" she asked, the pouting Librarian.

"You let them do it but not me..."

"Adrian," Tash kissed him firmly before fixing him with her most stubborn expression. "You are not going on a mission. And that is the leader's final word on the subject."


Rikku hummed as she listened to the comforting sounds of the functioning machina emitting from Djose temple. Some might have found it strange that she took comforting from listening to machines, but she was an Al Bhed – machina was her life and she had been handling it before she had known how to walk. The sounds reminded her who she was, and that no matter what happened, she would always be able to rely on her talent with machines...well that an the temple was becoming a place of regular visit for her – because she was interested in machina of course, she told herself firmly, not because of a certain Machina Faction leader who liked to tease her.

She was heading away from the temple, following tracks in the ground – the Al Bhed in the area had been reporting various bits of machina going missing – stolen right from under their noses. Rikku however had been lucky to find fresh tracks which she hoped would lead her to the thief. She knew what parts had been taken, and could see sections of the tracks where the thief had grown tired of carrying them and been forced to drag their cargo through the dirt. Occasionally she found a bolt or screw that had come loose, discarded by the side of the path, and she was confident that she was close. No one stole machina from an Al Bhed and expected to get away with it.

She was surprised to come across a small house – no one in her memory had lived here before. And then she remembered that the mysterious twins were supposed to be living around here, and she realised this must be their home. The tracks led around the back of the house, and Rikku frowned. What did the twins need machina for? Though most of the prejudice against the Al Bhed from four years ago had gone, most people still left messing around with machina to the Al Bhed, for it was their specialty, and machina could be dangerous if not constructed correctly.

As she got closer, Rikku's ears picked up the sounds of raised voices. Angry raised voices. She had never heard the twins shout, but she could recognise their voices (almost as identical as their faces) berating someone angrily.

"...third time this week, Palm Tree! The Al Bhed are already getting suspicious..."

"I told you, I don't care!"

Rikku was surprise, for the third voice was new to her. She crept close to the window and peeked in.

There were the twins, both tall for thirteen year olds, with long auburn hair, blue eyes, and identical down to the last freckle dusted across their (rather adorable) noses. The third girl looked to be about ten years old, with very short hair of the same colour, and the same colour eyes. Though there was something less stunning and cute about her appearance than the twins, Rikku could still tell that she must be a younger sister – the resemblance was all there.

"You're so rebellious!" one of the twin declared. "Don't you want to help us find Willowe? She's our sister, and she's the most powerful Sue around right now..."

"Yeah and look where that got her!" Palm Tree argued, jutting her jaw out stubbornly. "I hate living like this! Corrupting people in worlds to our will! Can't you both see it's wrong?"

"It's who we are!" the other twin protested, tears entering her shimmering blue eyes. "Why do you hate what we were created to do? You used to be such a good girl..."

"I used to be a brat!" Palm Tree corrected. "But not anymore! I refuse to turn out like you, and the rest of our stupid sisters!"


Rikku held back a gasp, as Palm Tree was struck around the face, a glowing pink hand print appearing on her cheek.

"You will be a Sue," the twin who had slapped her hissed. "It is what you were created to be...just like the rest of us. And you will not escape that."

She lowered her hand. The other twin was looking equally furious.

"You will stay in the house. And you will not leave until this rebellious streak of yours has gone. And you will stop stealing machina! Messing around with machines is not becoming of a Mary-Sue!"

Palm Tree's lip wobbled, tears building in her eyes, before she screamed, so loudly that Rikku was sure that the Al Bhed must have heard it back at the temple.

"I hate you!"

The ten year old whirled and stormed from the house, ignoring her sisters shouts, and completely failing to notice the stunned Al Bhed girl crouched by the side of the building.

Rikku was trembling slightly. She almost couldn't believe that those were the same twins who had saved Spira from fiends...and strangely, a part of her mind was nagging her to not believe it. To just forget she had ever seen it, and go back to thinking the twins were amazing...

But she couldn't. Rikku had seen a number of horrifying things, when she had been Yuna's guardian, and when Spira had been on the brink of civil war two years ago. Her sense of morality was strong, and she knew what was right and what was wrong. And rebellion or not, there was no excuse for treating your younger sister like that.

She bolted down the pathway away from the house, knowing that she needed to clear her head, but above all, knowing that Yuna needed to hear about this...


"I have," Kate declared. "An Authors Note, a Beacon of Red Light coat, a Copyright, a Dog, Elfen Lied DVDs, a Flute, a Guernsey Donkey and His Dark Materials."

Beth took a breath. "I have an Authors Note, a Beacon of Red Light coat, a Copyright, a Dog, Elfen Lied DVDs, a Flute, a Guernsey Donkey, His Dark Materials and... Palm Tree?"

"That doesn't begin with an 'I'," Emma admonished. Beth flapped her hands in agitation, coming dangerously close to concussing Kate with her flute, and sending Meg into a state of wild excitement (she thought the flute was a shiny stick that was about to be thrown).

"No no no, Palm Tree! Over there!" she pointed down the path before them.

They had been walking up from the Moonflow, where the Plothole had dropped them, and had been passing the time by playing silly games. Now however they fell silent as they spotted the small, ten year old Mary-Sue sister, throwing knives into a nearby tree. She apparently wasn't very good – most of the knives kept missing and landing into the grass, at which Palm Tree would give a frustrated scream, and stomp over to get them.

As they cautiously approached, the three girls were surprised to see a glowing red handprint on her cheek, and that her eyes were red from crying. She had tear tracks down her face and her nose was red from where she kept rubbing it with the back of her hand. But unlike other Mary-Sues, who projected an air of vulnerability which tugged at the heartstrings of anyone nearby when they cried, Palm Tree just looked downright pathetic...and a bit of a mess.

"Jeeze... what happened to her?" Kate asked in a low voice.

"Nothing good," Emma said, taking out the Plot Summary and scanning the child before them. "I wonder why the Summary didn't register her. She can't be level six at her age... Beth!"

For the youngest of the group was marching down the pathway, towards the still sniffling girl. Palm Tree looked up at her approach, and her eyebrows knitted together in a suspicious frown.

"I know you," she said, her voice a little croaky from all the crying she had done. "You're from the Society."

"Yeah, and you're Palm Tree," Beth stated, pulling a pack of tissues out of her bag. "You look like hell."
The girl snorted and scrubbed a hand across her face again, to wipe up any stray tears.

"I'm not a weak little kid who needs tissues," she spat, though every inch of her face said otherwise. Beth gave her an apprising look.

"No, but you look like you could use an ice pack for that face," she said. "Who did that to you?"

Palm Tree self consciously fingered the growing bruise on her cheek, a blush of embarrassment flooding into her face and making it look even more red and blotchy. " was Ashley..." she said eventually.

Beth's eyes widened, and she motioned behind her back for the other two to approach. "Why did Ashley hit you, Palm Tree?"

"Don't call me that!" the girl burst out finally, more tears filling her eyes. "I hate my name! And I hate my sisters for making me like this!"

"Like what?" Beth asked, crouching down and handing over the tissues. This time Palm Tree accepted them, scrubbing them across her face and rubbing the skin even rawer than before.

"For making me a Sue!" she wailed. "I hate it! I hate how we always have to we have to make people like us. How my older sisters act around the boys in the fandom!" she shuddered. "It makes me sick!"

Beth wasn't sure what it was, but something in her voice told her that the girl before her was being sincere. Though this might have sounded like a Mary-Sue sympathy spiel at any other time, she just didn't get the same feeling she got when she heard other Mary-Sues give speeches like this. She glanced over at Emma, who had just finished scanning her.

"I wouldn't have believed it," she muttered. "She's not registering as a Sue though."

"She isn't?" Kate asked. Emma shook her head.

"No. No attractive qualities. No amazing abilities. No fandom warping powers. No sort of personality effects going on right now. She's telling the truth."

"Palm," Beth asked soothingly, taking the girl by her shoulders. "How old are you?"

The youngest sister of Willowe sniffed. "I'm ten... that's why I'm not registering as a Sue... I don't have Sue powers yet. Sue powers kick in with puberty."

Beth's gaze became sharp. "And is that what's happened to Ashley? And Aspen? Is that why you don't like them now?"

Palm Tree nodded. "Ever since their powers started developing, they've been different...we used to have fun. We used to be a proper family. Then June got her powers two years ago... and now the twins. I don't want to be like them. They think all there is to living is making everything perfect, and making everyone love them... especially the boys."

"Have your sisters been warping this fandom?" Emma asked, crouching down beside Beth. Now the Summary had confirmed that Palm Tree was not a Sue, she could see the girl was acting very much like a frightened animal – and given that Emma was training to be a vet, she felt a natural compulsion to help her.

"Yeah..." Palm Tree nodded, before looking at all three girls. "Are you going to arrest them?"

"We don't have a choice," Kate told her gently. "They're damaging this fandom. We can try and reform them however... if we can block their powers, we can try and bring them around to the idea of living not as Sues. But for that, we need to catch them first."

"I... understand," Palm Tree said quietly. "We came here to look for Willowe. Ever since she vanished, the twins have been desperate to find her." She looked up at them, her face desperate. "I don't know what to do..."

"I'll tell you what you should have done," a new voice swept across the pathway. "You should have been a good girl and stayed at home."

The three agents, and Palm Tree looked up, to see Ashley and Aspen standing at one end of the road. Both of them were dressed as warriors, were carrying swords, and were giving their sister furious looks.

"You're naughty Palm Tree," Aspen declared. "You're supposed to play with nice people."

"Not the Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society!" Ashley finished.

Three sets of guns were raised by the agents, and pointed at the girls.

"In the name of the Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society, you're under arrest!" Emma proclaimed. To their surprise, the twins smirked.

"I think they want to play Cops and Robbers," Ashley giggled, her expression becoming innocent. Aspen nodded.

"I think you're right... then we'll be the cops, and they can be the robbers!"

"Wait, that's not how it works!" Kate protested, but she didn't get to explain why, as a burst of Thunder magic suddenly struck her from above and sent her crumpling to the floor. Emma yelped, and Beth immediately opened fire, but Aspen was on her, slashing with her sword, and sending the agent flying.

"Its not nice to aim guns at people," Aspen stated, kicking the aforementioned weapon away. "You'll ruin the game."

Beth recovered quickly, swinging her arm around and smashing her flute into Aspen's leg. The Sue doubled over, screaming in pain. Palm Tree helped Beth up.

"The twins were sadistic with the fiends," she warned. "This is all a game to them!"

"I'll bare that in mind," Beth grunted.

Meanwhile Ashley was raining black magic down on the heads of Emma and Kate. Fire, ice, water and thunder blasted them from all sides, until they were enveloped in nothing more than a ball of white light. Finally the blasts ended, leaving Ashley smiling.

"This game is fun," she declared. Her smile was suddenly wiped off her face however, as Meg bolted out of nowhere and yanked the sword from her grasp, taking off down the pathway with it.

"Hey!" Ashley screeched. "Get back here with my sword!"

She began chasing the collie in a circle, while Meg, thinking this was indeed a great game, ran faster. Aspen turned to help, but Palm Tree had stood, with Beth's gun, levelling it at her sister's head.

"You need to stop this Aspen! This isn't like you! Its your Sue powers corrupting you!"

Aspen just giggled. "This is a game, silly Palm Tree! This world. The Society. Life is just a game! And we're here to have fun with it!"

Palm Tree's voice grew stronger. "And releasing the fiends into Spira was 'fun' was it? All those people died because you wanted to mess around with this world!"

Aspen shrugged. "They lost the game. Simple as that."

She sighed and stepped towards her sister. "If you're not on the Sue's side, sister, then you are on their side! And we can't let your side win!"

She raised her sword above her head, and Palm Tree dropped the gun with a scream and cowered on the ground, her hands over her eyes. Beth made to dart in, but at that moment, multiple blasts of fire burst around Aspen, and the still running Ashley. Both girls screamed and crumpled to the ground.

"Stick em up you creeps!" Rikku proclaimed loudly. Everyone turned to see the Gullwings standing in the pathway. Yuna was levelling her guns at the twins, whilst Paine and Tidus had their swords drawn. Rikku, in her Black Mage dressphere, was bouncing from foot to foot, and was backed up by what looked like most of the Machina Faction. Gippal stood by her side, pointing his own gun.

"But..." Ashley sounded bewildered as to why they were being attacked by canon characters that should have been under their spell. "They're attacking us!"

"Yeah. Well I saw you attack your own sister earlier," Rikku stated, her hands landing on her hips triumphantly.

"And we heard what you just said," Yuna cocked her guns. "You admitted you let the fiends into Spira in order to gain our trust."

Beth and Kate took the twins distraction as the perfect opportunity to slap Prohibitors on their wrists, while Emma set about restraining Meg from going to investigate the newcomers.

"You got over confident," Palm Tree whispered to her sisters, from her cowering position on the ground. "You thought your Sue powers could do anything. But they don't finish developing until you hit fifteen. And now you've lost the game..."

And with that, she fainted.



Seconds passed.

No one moved.

And then suddenly, the Gullwings and the Machina Faction found themselves wondering why they were standing on the highroad between Djose and the Moonflow.

"Umm..." Rikku switched from Black Mage into her Thief Dressphere (realising she had no recollection of when she had changed). "Does anyone know what we're doing here?"

Yuna looked nervously around, and Tidus slipped a hand around her waist in comfort.

"Not a clue," the Guardian proclaimed, before looking around and grinning suddenly. "Hey! It's almost sunset! Let's go to the Moonflow and watch the Pyreflies!"

Yuna smiled at his enthusiasm, and sheathed her guns again, before walking arm in arm with Tidus down the pathway.


"That was a great job guys," Tash congratulated the team of Agents. "When you all come to the island at the end of July, I owe you all a smoothie."

"From Pulp?" Kate asked enthusiastically.

"Of course," Tash nodded, and Emma and Beth high-fived.

"The fandom was definitely wiped, right?" Harriet checked, leaning back in her office chair and denting her fingers together. Tash was reclining on the sofa, paperwork on her stomach.

"Yup," Emma nodded. "After Palm Tree fainted, we grabbed her and the twins, conjured a plothole and legged it. Everything has gone back to normal. It's like the fiends never attacked."

"And what about the missing machina?" Tash asked.

"Interestingly," Beth stated. "That was Palm Tree. She told me she was stealing it so she could figure out how to put it together... it infuriated her sisters of course."

"Interesting," Harriet smiled. "Think she might make a good techie?"

"I think so," Beth agreed, before looking worried. "What's going to happen to her?"

Harriet smiled. "She's Willowe's sister. That makes her my responsibility. She's only ten, and I think with the right environment, she could avoid developing Sue powers completely."

"So she's, going to be your... what, daughter?" Kate asked.

"Probably," Harriet nodded. "She'll stay in the Library obviously, but I think I can rehabilitate her to be a normal girl. She needs a new ID obviously. Palm Tree is too Sueish..."

"What's her new name?" Kate asked. Harriet grinned.

"Emily. Emily Smith. Simple and non-Sueish enough."

"How did you pick that?" Tash asked.

"Random Name Generator."

At this point, the door burst open, and Jess came stumbling in.

"Guys! You have to see this!"

The tone of her voice made them all worry, and they stampeded for the door, leaving a steamrollered looking Jess in her wake. Harriet took a second to pry the poor girl off the floor, before heading to one of the reading rooms, where a sizeable crowd of agents had already gathered.

"Oh..." Emma said slowly.

"My..." Beth muttered.

"Gawd!" Kate shouted.

The wall of the reading room had been cleared of shelves and books, and now hosted what looked like a massive feminist mural, spreading up the wall, and onto the better part of the ceiling (the moved bookshelves had been assembled as scaffolding). Beneath is all stood Palm Tree – or rather, Emily – wearing a pair of dungarees which were splattered in paint. She was trying (and failing) to hide a paintbrush behind her back.

"Who said you could paint on the wall of my Library?"

"ADRIAN! What the hell are you doing out of bed?"

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