Friday, October 14, 2011

Insert Evident Demonic Contract Here

Karissa lay back in her hospital bed and heaved a great sigh.

She was lucky, really she was. She was lucky to only get away with a couple dozen minor scratches and a second degree bruise, considering that she had entered the Call of Duty 4 fandom. Instead, she could have been dead.

But try as she might, for the hundredth time Karissa couldn't completely convince herself that she was really really lucky. The moderate rupture of the capillaries under her skin was what classified her bruise as one of the second degree. Right now, the increased internal bleeding meant that the spot where Maya had punched her had swelled dramatically, she felt brutal pain, and she couldn't move her arm – much – at all. Exactly how could she look at that in a favourable light?

Karissa sighed again, and then she quickly rolled over onto her good arm to avoid a half-hearted slap from her sister.

"Thank God that you came back safely," Charis said with a half-audible sob in her voice. "I don't even want to think about how you could have been hurt worse. So STOP sighing about what most people would say is only a TINY bit of damage to your FACE. What's a face? As long as you can still see, hear, taste and speak out of those vital parts of your face, I'm fine with that."

Karissa hadn't even started complaining about the injuries on her face, but like always her sister was capable of thinking far ahead of her on the same train of thought. The haphazardly applied cuts under Karissa's chestnut eyes took up space on most of the surface of her pale cheeks, and she simply hated that. She didn't like to call herself vain, but after all, the face was a girl's most precious possession. She sincerely wished that her ability was strong enough that she could play at being an invisible woman around the Library until the blemishes on her skin vanished. But no, if she tried to remain unnoticeable for that long she'd certainly pass out.


At that moment, Tyler Kahn poked his head into the sick room, and Karissa blushed. It was embarrassing that Tyler had been the one to pull her to safety on their last disastrous mission. The boy was, what, 4'5", and he'd dragged a 5'10" girl into the relative protection of a standing building. She couldn't have looked very attractive, being unconscious in the first place, and then being hauled around by a much smaller person. Still, she was thankful that in times of desperation people of all kinds could tap into previously unknown strength. Without Tyler's help she would be dead.

"Delivery!" Tyler said cheerfully. Apparently, Tyler had recently started up an errand service in exchange for payments in chocolate. Charis stood up to her respective height of 5'8" to receive her package, and even she turned into someone tall around the shorter agent. That made her look all the more ridiculous when she slouched down and very obviously looked around stealthily before slipping him a whole 500g Toblerone bar.

"The extra ensures that you'll eat this somewhere private where no one else will see you. Don't tell anyone I carry this kind of sugar around," Charis whispered quite urgently. The minimum tip for one of Tyler's deliveries was currently set at 50g of chocolate – not enough people used his service, yet, to drive up the price – but she was more worried about other Agents hounding her for similar sweets at all hours than she was about being too generous with him right now.

Tyler had instantly zoned in on the rather hefty piece of chocolate, and he nodded his agreement in the midst of a semi-daze. After pocketing the chocolate pyramid in a pocket of his shorts he didn't take long to see to his way out. Once he'd left, Charis skilfully ripped the tape off the cardboard envelope she'd requested. She shook it tenderly until a mess of gleaming silver chain was deposited on her palm, at which Karissa took merely one look before blurting out "Charm bracelet!" A look of understanding flitted through her eyes.

"This was the invention you submitted for screening in order to be accepted into the ACMSES Science Department. You wouldn't tell me what it was." Karissa held the exquisite piece of jewellery fondly – suddenly being a very proper type of girl, she loved jewellery at this point – but Charis looked at it affectionately too, because her sister was right. This bracelet had won her entry into the Society, the Library, and it had earned her an exclusive laboratory of her very own.

"Don't you want to know what it does? I call this a Citation."

"Um, citations reference different documents, right?" Karissa had to check to make sure. Although she was only two years younger than her sister, she was totally a product of the computer age, so by preference all her information came from Wikipedia. She knew even those articles were written based on other sources, but all she felt she needed to credit was Wikipedia; similarly, she would say she got a cute picture from Google Image Search, but she had no idea what photographer actually took the photo.

"Y-es. My Citation works almost like a Crossover, but since citations can also reference unpublished works...the Agent who uses the Citation will be able to bring over elements of a story not finished being written. Its power will vary greatly depending on the calibre of writer inside each Agent."

"Wow." Karissa's mouth fell open. "No wonder they let you enter the Science Department. I never would have thought of creating something like that."

"Well my gadget's not that original. Like I said, it's very similar to a Crossover. I imagine there was another reason I was hired the remarkable fact that the Science Department is understaffed." With a flip of her auburn hair, Charis asserted that she wouldn't let compliments slide past her usual modesty for a moment.

Karissa smiled in response while fingering the miniature charms on the bracelet, a pewter rose and a stylized "D". "Do the charms on the bracelet have anything to do with the certain documents that you can call upon?"
"Not really. By sheer force of will, most Agents will be able to cross-over a story of their own as long as they wear the Citation and are thinking properly. The charms just ask as visual reminders of stories they've used before, and besides, they're stylish don't you think?" Charis reached over to fasten the unclasped ends of the bracelet around Karissa's somewhat skinny wrist. "But no one's used my Citations yet, so on yours I just fashioned charms for fandoms that you've already visited. I couldn't give my sister a present without decorations."

"Ah." The rose must represent the Vampire Knight fandom, and the "D" represented the DGray-man fandom. "You're too good to me, Charis." Karissa's voice was laced with equal parts regret and responsibility. "I'm sorry that I took off without giving you notice last time. If Douglas– if Tash and Adrian hadn't needed virtually every Agent's help, there's no way I would leave my favourite sister in the dark." She made a shaky laugh. "Look at me, I sound like I'm your senior, or something."

Charis shrugged, her hazel eyes clear of her sister's guilt-induced pain. "That's the way you are. I love you like that."


"Delivery!" The sisters' potentially emotional moment was cut short by another familiar cry. They both stared at the reappearance of Tyler.

"What? I didn't ask you for another favour, Tyler," Charis said curiously.

"I know. This citation – and by that I mean a summons – is from Tash. Guess what? She gave me British chocolate in payment!" Tyler munched happily on the much-sweeter cocoa mixture.

"A summons from Tash?" Charis looked aghast. "But Karissa's in no shape to go on another mission."

"But that must mean Lela's resurfaced!" Karissa exclaimed at the same time. She made an odd little bounce on her bed. "Help me up, Charis, I have to catch this Sue!"

"Really, what did she ever do to you?" Charis muttered. She wasn't as much of a pacifist towards Sues as compared to their shared Author, but she really didn't think Karissa gallivanting about at this time was a good idea. Nevertheless she eased her sister's arm over her shoulder, providing a stable surface to lean upon, and Karissa followed up by swinging her legs off the bed. As soon as her feet touched the ground she somewhat too enthusiastically insisted on standing on her own.

Charis took back her hands reluctantly. "Did Tash happen to mention what fandom Lela's in?"


"Kuroshitsuji, otherwise known as Black Butler."

Karissa nodded emphatically. "Oh, yes, I know that fandom. It's one of my favourites, in fact."

Tash consulted the computer print-out in front of her. "I see. What can you tell me about it? When I searched up related fanfiction they all seemed to be romances, despite this manga being in the Horror genre."

Karissa seemed knowledgeable about this problem too. "The romance would be on account of the number of people who write slash fics about the two main characters, Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian Michaelis. Kuroshitsuji is basically about the relationship between those two; one the head of an extremely powerful noble family in Victorian-era London, and the other his butler." Karissa paused. She had been going to go on and say, "The curious part of their relationship is that Sebastian is really a demon summoned by Ciel to help him in his revenge," but all of a sudden she stopped to think of the disadvantages to uttering that statement. Sebastian was able to accomplish all sorts of impossible tasks as the Phantomhive butler because he was a demon, and pretty much a Stu if it came to that. To admit that she might have to face a person of such power if she were to capture Lela would only alarm the ACMSES leader. Kuroshitsuji wasn't on the Black List as of now, but Tash only had to be a little more enlightened before she would probably choose to add it to the list.

Karissa squashed her lips together firmly. She opened her mouth once more just to say simply, "That's about it."

"Okay, then, the situation doesn't seem so bad. Go in, retrieve Lela, and get out without any more injuries." Tash touched pointedly on her unhealed injuries. "If you hadn't personally requested to deal with every reappearance of Lela yourself, you wouldn't be on this mission. Good luck and be on your way."


As Karissa hurried away towards the nearest Library portal, she muttered under her breath, "First, I really need to find a guy," and she changed course.


When Karissa finally arrived in the Kuroshitsuji fandom, she brought two unusual – unusual for her, anyways – things with her. One was a completely different wardrobe. She had swapped her typical all-red and historically inappropriate attire for a simple but elegantly cut mauve gown. It had a cross-over bodice that contributed to a "V" neckline, and the bodice was fitted to create sleeves that were short and puffed. The waistline of the gown was fitted as well, with a small peplum that attached to the waistline. The skirt was straight with a slit at the center back. She wore a light brown ribbon belt above her hips, and a sleek brown fur large-brim hat with a grey brocade underside and coque feather accents sat atop her head. She might not look the part of a princess, but Karissa was confident that she could at least pass herself off as the daughter of a low Baron.

The second "abnormality" that she had willingly brought with her was a partner. A contentedly snacking Tyler had been bribed into dressing in a completely grey Victorian men's outfit. That included shirt, vest, tailcoat, pants, tie, gloves and top hat. Tyler's current mood belied the difficulties he had given Karissa earlier, two arguments that altogether had caused them to arrive in the fandom an hour late. He predictably hadn't wanted to dress up – to deal with that, Karissa had to surrender a bar of Amedei's Chauo that she had been saving for years - and he'd had some sort of fit when he saw her dress, too, claiming mauve was a shade of pink no matter how you looked at it. Karissa hadn't known what to make of that, so all she could come up with was a heated retort, "It's not!" In the latter case, mere verbal persuasion hadn't been quite adequate enough. Karissa had to promise, on top of everything else, that before they left the fandom she would buy Tyler a month's worth of Funtom chocolate (the Phantomhive's Funtom company made a tidy profit selling sweets and toys in Kuroshitsuji). In the end, she didn't think she would mind the purchase much, because the expense was definitely worth it. The ACMSES Agents currently stood on a stretch of street opposite the Big Ben, and judging by the reactions of the Londoners passing them they completely blended in with the manga's setting.

Assured that they were attracting no undue attention, Karissa decided that they'd better get started with their search for Lela. "Come, dear brother," she said, tugging on Tyler's sleeve. There weren't that many circumstances that allowed for young single girls of perceived high birth to wander the city alone. However, she hadn't wanted to hire an outsider – an adult, to boot - to pose as her chaperone (if she were female) or tutor (if he were male), so that only left the role of a male family member who could escort her about without scandal. Additionally, she figured that since Tyler was pretending to be her younger brother it wouldn't look too odd if she took charge of any situation that might crop up. After all, Tyler had professed he'd never heard of this series before. The admission had caused Karissa pain, but so be it. Karissa led Tyler into a brisk speed walk towards the nearest intersection. When she stopped abruptly in the street, two things resulted: a driver was forced to yank sharply on the reins of his horse team in order to avoid trampling her – so she escaped being killed – and Tyler ran into her from behind.

"What's your problem?" Tyler complained loudly. He was no less cheerful, but he had dropped his bar of chocolate on the dirty pavement, rendering it further inedible.

"I said were you planning to walk by without even a polite 'Hello', Agents?" A playful-sounding voice reached both of their ears. The sweetness inherent in Lela's voice was indecent, and yet fully expected from a Mary-Sue.

"Someone who wanted to be welcomed shouldn't hide in convenient shadows where there's naturally a lack of light," Karissa groused. She was understandably shaken from her near-death experience.

"Oho, someone's in a bad mood." If Lela noticed Karissa's inflated case of nerves, she didn't let on. However, she took great pleasure in noticing something else. "Did you get beaten?" Lela skipped forward to push Karissa's sleeves up, looking into her face at the same time. "Scrapes, scratches and bruises, oh my!" She giggled amusedly.

At Lela's touch, Karissa had instinctively fought against the other girl's hold; strangely, she was unable to break it. Tyler had also reacted near-immediately – reaching out prepared to give the Sue a hard shove on the shoulder – but yet another person stopped him.

"I wouldn't dare touch the Young Mistress if I were you."

Deeper in the shadows, another figure slowly took shape. She was of average height and had about the same stature as Lela – so that meant she was 5'5", slender, and then slightly curvaceous. Although her body was clearly young, something about her demeanour told the Agents that she was undeniably an adult. This stranger must have been somewhere between 22 and 29, which would explain the sophistication that added to her already considerable dark beauty. Black-haired and black-clad, it had been the tone in this woman's voice alone that froze Tyler cold. She walked deliberately to Lela's side and hovered there subserviently.
"Agents, may I introduce Viva Fontaine Sirius Heather Shevon Cello Miriam Skerry. I'm grateful to say that she has entered my employment as my governess."

Karissa asked while still trapped in Lela's grip, "She's a Sue?"

Viva chose to answer for her master. "I am a Sue because Young Mistress bid me so."

"What the heck?" Tyler was sceptical, but Karissa's mouth formed a little 'O' of comprehension.

"You're under contract to Lela, aren't you?" The smug silence that answered her was the worst possible reply. "Lela, what happened to your ears? I seem to remember Bookmarking – and then Booklighting – you." Karissa eyed her nemesis from the peculiar angle offered by being held too close to the girl. Lela also wore a stunning dress, but in her case she'd opted for extravagance rather than style. Her costume consisted of a pale pink and cream satin gown emphasized with lace. The bodice was made in the Princess line, and was seamed and gored for a moulded fit. It fastened with laces at the front, had a deep square neckline, extended into drapes at the hips – which merged with the train that fell in inverted pleats from the seams of the bodice – and to the sides the sleeves were elbow-length and narrow but slashed. Lela wore gloves over her arms up to the beginnings of her sleeves, but she wore no hat, so Karissa could tell that nowhere on that perfectly coiffed head were the characteristic cocker spaniel ears that should have been there.

"What do you think I sacrificed to summon Viva? Among fulfilling other conditions I had to hurt, badly." The act of recalling the memory made Lela wince in ghostly pain. "I had to have protection, though. Acting as my governess, Viva will protect me from the Society until I die."

"And then she will have your soul," Karissa added woodenly.

"Well, yes." Lela remained nonchalant as a dumbfounded Tyler caught up to their conversation at last.

"I didn't think you would have the guts to form a contract with a demon. Love is the game you prefer."

"Oh, I found that in this fandom too." Lela turned to the side – releasing Karissa after great length – as two distinguished gentlemen rounded the corner. Karissa identified Ciel and Sebastian on sight, and she couldn't keep a goofy smile off her face.

Tyler noticed the men, but not his partner's signs of recognition. "Excuse me, sir, you should take the kid and leave this area. We're having a, um, disagreement here." In an attempt to secure the safety of canon characters from the influence of the Sues, Tyler made a grave misjudgement in character.

Ciel Phantomhive glared straight at Tyler with the one sapphire eye not covered by his eye patch. "Just who do you think you're addressing as a child? I am the Earl of Phantomhive! As a nobleman I have more right to be on this street than you, and furthermore I suspect you are harassing my sister!"

"Eh? Sister?" Both Agents' faces were mirrors of surprise.

Lela dashed forward to envelop Ciel in a hug, although she took care to accommodate his unhealthily delicate frame. "Ciel! You found me! I paused for just a moment in front of the bookstore, and when I next looked you were gone! Thank goodness Viva stayed by my side. She was there to calm me, and she was the one who suggested that we stay put until you returned for us."

Ciel kept his haughty expression, but simultaneously he massaged the small of Lela's back to sooth her. "I told you never to fall behind me. What would you have done if you'd been lost in another part of London? Like Whitechapel, for example?" Ciel's perfectly composed features resembled those of a feminine china doll. The first impression that Tyler formed of the lord wasn't favourable. "To give credit where it's due, it is Sebastian that you should thank, not me." Ciel waved a gloved hand airily at his companion.

"Sebastian! Thank you!" For her part, Karissa thought Lela overdid the theatrics when she began bowing to a servant. It didn't matter that the servant was such a fine specimen of male form; there was no reason a noble should not take a butler's work for granted. Unless-

Karissa exhaled in frustration. Which one of the two had fallen victim to Lela's wiles in this fandom? If only she could figure that out, either Tyler or herself could stick a Copyright on that person. Maybe they ought to put stickers on both of them, just to be safe.

Tyler seemed to be a step ahead of her. He'd already called his axle-shaped staff to hand. He was about to charge Ciel – who was closest to him – when Karissa abruptly remembered, "Shoot! Sebastian will kill Tyler if he thinks he's trying to harm Ciel!"

"Tyler! Lose the weapon! Just use a Copyright!" she called. Tyler shot her a momentarily confused glance, but he didn't look like he was going to shift his staff back into a ping-pong paddle. Karissa silently urged him to trust her while she looked around to see what else she could utilize in the inevitable fight. When her gaze alighted on accessory upon her wrist, she decided that she could use the Citation to distract Sebastian from her partner, at least. Sebastian had just noticed Tyler's approach to his master. With a toothy leer he took a running start to intercept the Agent.

Karissa squeezed a small charm in her hand and she felt her heart rise up in her throat.

The world imploded in darkness as two small bodies forcefully impacted both Sebastian and Viva, who had been ready to pinion Tyler between them. Karissa knew the signature of her cousins even with her eyes closed. Alix was one of two twins who could dissipate into darkness itself; Lisle, the other twin, was an Elemental of Darkness. Karissa's eyes snapped open. The girls looked like they were holding their own against the two demons, but past them Tyler appeared to be going in for a killing blow. He raised one end of his staff high.

"Viva! Save my brother!" Lela's screech cleft the shadow-ridden night.

Both demons reacted to her call, but Alix and Lisle could only keep one of them back. Karissa skipped forward in her long dress to slap her Copyright on a grotesquely deformed Sebastian even as he stretched to impale Tyler with a clawed hand. "Kyaaaa!" Before her eyes, her Author's creations suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke. Although she'd copyrighted Sebastian, it looked like he would still kill Tyler for pointing a weapon at his contractor.

"Stop it! Sebastian! Don't kill him!" Karissa, staggered, whirled to stare at Ciel Phantomhive – the Earl had just saved her partner's life. The tip of Tyler's staff still rested on the teenager's head, and attached to cloud-grey hair by less than half of its surface area was a Copyright sticker. She cried out in relief.

"Sebastian, suddenly I am in repossession of my senses. Whoever these Baronets are, they have acted as the catalyst to remind me that I have no sister." Ciel levelled his formidable gaze on Lela threateningly. "If I hypothetically had a sister, I certainly wouldn't have committed incest either."

"Gross. This time you went after a thirteen year old!" Karissa protested. "That's against the law, you know." She should have known that it was Ciel whom Lela had courted. Lela "didn't date older men" so that explained why she had bypassed Sebastian. And her scream as she had thought Ciel was going to die had sounded almost heartfelt. A scream-

"Viva, I told you to save my 'brother'. Kill the Agents that oppose us." Circles of power became visible through Lela's mass of dark hair, where her dog ears had been ripped out. The two symbols flashed brightly, creating a halo effect about Lela. Viva reappeared out of the air above her master as she hurtled towards Karissa and Tyler with both hands extended and murder in her eyes. Twin circles glowed underneath the skin of her palms.

They couldn't hope to survive but Tyler activated a Scene Transition with remarkable alacrity.


"So when you woke up, the memories planted in your mind told you that Sebastian interceded to save you, and rather than continue to battle Lela simply ordered Viva to 'come with her' and go?"

"I think Lela was emotionally attached to Ciel most of all the beaus she's had so far." Karissa spoke carefully to Tash from her hospital bed, to which she'd been confined once more. "It mattered to her that as soon as we copyrighted Ciel his attitude towards her changed completely. I don't think Lela's encountered a Copyright before. She must have believed that her relationships were real and lasting. I'm not even sure she knew that Zero and Allen both went back to normal once she left their respective fandoms."

"It's not presumptuous of a Sue to think that her lovers will continue to pine after her."

"No," Karissa agreed. "But I think Lela's naïveté nonetheless contributes to her assumption." Ba-bump. Clutching her aching chest, Karissa asked, "What do you think, Tyler?"

Tyler sat up in his bed in much the same manner as Karissa, with a hand over his heart. "All I'll say is that Lela is probably a Level 6 Sue now. Her intentions might have humble origins, but her actions have become increasingly twisted. She should be monitored to prevent a rise to Level 7. That's especially true since - if she were to experience a sharp rise in aggression - she now has Viva to cause lots of damage on her behalf." Ba-bump. Both Agents whimpered as their heartbeats caused them a surge in pain.

"Although that Ciel kid decided to help you guys, his butler didn't stop Viva from bruising you." Tash tsk'd worriedly. "If Viva's hands had gone all the way through your chests, she would have taken out something vital. As things stand, I can't guess how long it will take for your contusions to heal." Earlier, Tash had seen the perfectly straight black lines below both their breastbones. Viva's fingertips had hit them with enough might to cause instant and severe bruising. The longer nails of her third and fourth fingers had also punctured Karissa's and Tyler's skin to draw blood.

"Karissa, we are discontinuing your sister's Citations for now. Seeing as none of us are truly Authors – at our best we are Self-Inserts, merely representations of our Author selves – the crossover effect of the device isn't enduring. I'm glad that it worked - even for a minute - for you, but the length of time available to the next Agent to wear a Citation would be unknown. I don't want anyone to get hurt - any more." Tash smiled wanly. "I need you to give up your charm bracelet."

As if she'd expected this, Karissa motioned to the bracelet already pooled on the corner of her bedside table. She held it out to Tash, and then weakly raised her fingers to assist her in accounting for all of the pieces. "One. The chain itself. Two. The rose charm for Vampire Knight. Three. The alphabet charm for DGrayman. Four. The bell." The Citation wasn't the same as when Charis had first clasped it to her sister's wrist. An extra three centimetres of chain extended past the lobster claw, ending in the aforementioned bell. Karissa had used the "extender" attached to the Citation to summon Cay's characters Alix and Lisle. "Charis will cry an awful lot once you let her into the room," she said. Karissa meant that her sister would take the news of her gadget's termination poorly, but she was being remarkably obtuse.

The Society leader corrected her, "Charis will cry anyways, looking at you."

"Tash." Karissa paused. "I need someone to go back into the Kuroshitsuji fandom to run an errand for me. I made a promise-" She peeked away from Tyler. "I promised to buy some chocolate."

"Tyler won't be eating any chocolate for a long while," Tash replied firmly, somehow knowing exactly who Karissa meant. "If he's bouncing off the walls as a result of sugar then he won't stay in bed."

"Hey! I'm right here! Don't talk about me in third person!"

"You can go back into Kuroshitsuji once you're well again," Tash pretended that she hadn't heard Tyler say a word. "What with the Copyrights and the Sues' departure, the storyline has resumed its natural flow. I heard that the next chapter is due soon too."

"Hmm, okay." For some reason Karissa seemed inordinately disappointed. She endured Charis' hysteria upon seeing her for a couple of days, and on the third day of her bed rest she managed to procure the latest copy of Monthly GFantasy (in which Kuroshitsuji was published), but on the fourth day she remained unaccountably sad. She was heard to mumble, "Can no one break the cycle?"

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