Friday, January 6, 2012

Insert Cliched Halloween Clipshow Here (part 4 of 5)

"Ben? Ben it's Stacey. Can you hear me?"

The seer pinched hard on Ben's thumbnail, but the agent did not stir. Rather his forehead seemed to wrinkle in worry.

"Anything from Drake?" Tash asked, lifting Ben's head and placing a cushion beneath him. Valerie, who was tending to the other unconscious person, had a hand on his forehead and her eyes closed, trying to determine his current state. Her worry was written all over her face, and she shook her head as she registered Tash's question.

"Try slapping him!" Harriet suggested, trying to get to her feet. She lost her balance and toppled backwards into her seat, dropping her plate of sandwiches to the floor. "Whoa... I am so drunk..."

"You can't get uuuuup!" Jess teased, parking herself on the leader's lap. Harriet pouted.

"Heeeey! Get off! I wanna slap the unconscious bodies!"

"They're not unconscious, they're sleeping," Valerie declared, taking everyone by surprise (including herself from the tone of her voice). "There's a lot of REM activity going on up there."

"So they're dreaming?" Tash summarised, and Claire gasped suddenly, causing everyone to jump.

"Or flashbacking!" she exclaimed. "We've been having them all night!"

Valerie was looking dark as she observed all the gathered agents, trying to determine if anyone was going to nod off where they stood. "I smell a rat," she declared. Harriet and Jess looked around curiously, leaning down to peer under the tables.


"Can I eat it?"

That response came from Tyler, who was promptly smacked around the head by Doug.

"It's a figure of speech," he informed the shorter agent.

"Uh, Lady Tash..." Cristoph's voice was tense, and everyone felt anxious. It took a lot to make Cristoph worried. "I do not wish to cause alarm, but does anyone know how long Lord Pete and Lady Charis have been sleeping?"

A cold chill seemed to sweep through the room, as everyone's gaze fell on the sleeping couple. Valerie got to her feet and crossed the room, but she froze before she could reach the sofa.

"They're not the only ones sleeping," she said, raising a finger and pointing across to a corner of the room. Ossa, Aimee and Jamie were slumped asleep against the bookshelves, Aimee's head in Ossa's lap, and Jamie's resting on her shoulder.

"God damn it," Tash muttered, yanking one of the blankets off the sofa, and over Ben. As the agent slept, the leader was positive she heard him give a soft, worried moan, and the name 'Bella' slip from his lips. She frowned.

"Definitely flashbacking," she muttered.

"Charis?" Karissa was shaking her sister gently, while Valerie worked on Pete. Both agents were sound asleep, and from the flickering beneath their eyelids, were dreaming deeply.

"What is this?" Marcus demanded, crouching down next to Ossa and her friends. "Some kind of flashback spell?"

"Combined with a sleeping spell," Tash guessed. "It took the sleeping spell longer to affect us than the flashback spell, which is why we've been flashbacking all night. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to the spell though. It's just picking people-"

She was cut off as Rhia's eyes rolled back into her head and she slumped against Cristoph, who caught her easily, and gently rested her on the nearest sofa.

"- randomly," Tash finished.

"So we're all going to fall asleep?" All the agents were looking worried, and Valerie could sense that some of them were about to panic. She got to her feet, and levelled everyone with a calm gaze.

"We're not going to fall asleep," she said firmly. "We're going to find a way to counter this spell. It doesn't seem to be spreading incredibly fast, and there's nothing to say that once the flashbacks are over they won't wake up again."

Deep down, Tash was having doubts about that. If a flashback spell had been cast without anyone realising it, it was unlikely to be a friendly cause. She nodded along with Valerie however, not wanting to alarm anyone.

"Valerie is right, and we won't figure this out by panicking," she turned to Aster. "Aster, track down Adrian, wherever he's gone. We will need him. Jess," she turned to the Moulin Rouge dancer, paused as she remembered how drunk she was, and turned to Michael and Claire. "Michael, Claire, all three of you go to check on the Sues in the basement. For some reason I'm seeing their finger prints all over this."

"You got it Aneki," Michael nodded, taking Claire's hand, and leading her out of the room. Jess followed, shouldering her purple handbag and trying to perform some kind of military march as she exited the room.

"Miri," Tash pointed to her little sister. "You and Cristoph go check the monitor room. See if there have been any active plotholes into the Library, or if there is any way anyone could have broken in here."

The two agents turned and headed for the door, just as Adrian, Emily and Aster reappeared, the former two looking white in the face, and the latter fluttering above their heads in first fae form.

"Found them Tasha-san!" Aster sounded pleased with herself, and Tash smiled.

"Aster, get out of the air," Valerie ordered, from where she was arranging for her team members to fetch more blankets and pillows from wherever it was that the Library kept them. "If you go to sleep I want you to do it close to the ground so you don't have as far to fall."

"Do as she says," Tash ordered, before turning to Adrian. "You're white, love. What's wrong?"

So worried was her boyfriend's face, that Tash failed to notice that Adrian had somehow located a trench coat, and thrown it over his kitty costume.

"The Fourth Wall has been sealed off," Adrian reported, gripping her shoulders and speaking in a low voice so that no one would hear. Valerie and Aster, who were close enough to hear however, did crowd around.

"What?" Tash cried, before chewing hard on her lip as she realised that several people had looked up in fright. "Sorry... what?"

"There's some kind of spell blocking us from getting to it," Emily said, lowering her voice to a whisper so as not to alarm anyone. "I noticed that people were breaking it all night, and nothing was happening, so I went to check it out. It's not breaking because it's been sealed off from the Library."

Hearing the hushed whispers, Harriet tried to get up, but once again, failed miserably.

"Hey! I'm leader! I want in on the secret conversations!"

"Umm actually, I'm in charge," Tash corrected, pulling out a long, rolling piece of paper, with a gold header at the top declaring itself to be "The Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society Rules, Regulations And Other Minute Little Crap That We May Forget At One Point Or Another And Thus Needs To Be Written Down In Case Of Emergency (R&R for short)".

"Rule three thousand and ninety six of the Society R and R – should Harriet and Lauren fall under the influence of excessive alcohol, sugar or cricket withdrawal, Tash is in charge."

"You made that rule up five minutes ago!" Harriet spluttered. Her housemate smirked.

"It still stands! I'm in charge!"


"I'm going to check it out," Harriet stated, picking up her cricket bat and resting it over her shoulder. "Tash, you're in charge."

She stepped through the portal and vanished. Tash's jaw dropped and she morphed her necklace into her staff.

"You are not going alone Harriet! I'm coming too! Michael you're in charge!"

Michael blinked slowly as his sister vanished after their leader. He glanced at the monitor, and gasped.

"Gah! Harriet left her handbag!"

He seized Harriet's bright blue handbag, stuffed with paperwork, cricket magazines, a prohibitor and two copyrights, and raced for the portal.

"Aster, you're in charge!" he bellowed over his shoulder, leaving a small, blinking fae alone in the room.



"...Did anyone else just see that?" Tash asked. Aster and Harriet raised their hands.

"Another flashback?" Valerie guessed, from the dazed expression on their faces.

"Another? What's going on?" Adrian asked, having only just noticed that the music had been switched off, and most of the Society agents were sitting on the floor, on cushions or on sofas. Tash chewed her lip.

"We have a problem..." She broke off to glare at Harriet, who had just let out a wide yawn.

"...what?" the leader blinked, as she noticed everyone scowling at her.


"Here's an agent, there's an agent, and a bloody lot of agents. Fuzzy agent, funny agent, agent, agent, Sue!"

"Jess?" Claire looked over her shoulder at the singing brit, who appeared not to have noticed that they had arrived at the basement, and that Michael was fumbling with the keys.

"Agent, agent, Hati, agent, Tashy, Willie, Aster, agent. Agent, agent, Michael, agent, agent, agent, Sue!"


"That one's the Librarian, Tyler ate the cake. Shirley is a scary stick, Rhia knows how to bake. Emily paints naked pics, while Tyler eats the mail. Keep away, little child, for I'm about to fail."

"JESS!" Claire shouted, getting the older girl's attention. "I'll give you this cookie if you stop singing!"

She dangled a cookie that she had snatched from the plate upstairs in front of Jess's nose, and the girl thought for a second before nodding.

"I am a little hungry, so okay!"

Handing over the cookie with a sigh of relief, Claire returned to her boyfriend, who turned the key clockwise and pushed the heavy door open. Replacing the keys in his pocket, he took Claire's hand and led her down the stairs.

"Keep an eye on her," Michael advised, not trusting Jess's footing when she was this drunk. The last thing they needed was an accident at the bottom of the staircase. Claire nodded, and took Jess's hand gently. The still tipsy girl smiled in a seductive manner.

"I'm flattered Claire, but don't you have a boyfriend? Won't he mind?"

"Of course he'll mind Jess!" Claire sighed, turning to give the other girl a withering look. She made a funny strangled gasping noise. "And put it away! Jeeze!"

Michael swung his head around, but did not get the chance to see just what Jess was flashing (which was probably for the best) as with a swing of her hand, Jess pushed the heavy door closed behind her, and cut off most of the light on the staircase. Claire immediately felt cold, and she moved closer to Michael.

"Jess! What did you do that for?" Michael hissed, his eyes glowing a soft orange tone, and snake tentacles slithering from his back to bask in the darkness.

Ah this is much better the Darkness crooned in his head. So fitting, don't you think?

"What do you mean?" Michael snapped back. There was a sinister chuckle in the back of his mind.

Well... it's dark... and this is Halloween isn't it? The time of year when ghosts are said to run around and frighten you mortals into an early grave?

"Stop it!" Michael growled, taking a firmer grip on Claire's hand, and feeling for the next step.

Not to mention you're heading for the cells where your most hated enemies are kept...

"Shut up!" Michael screamed, stopping dead, causing Claire to walk straight into his back, and the Darkness to snigger.

So easy to scare...

"I'm sorry," Michael apologised to Claire. "The Darkness was BSing."

But you know I'm right, young one.

"Beware of the things that lurk under your bed..." Jess giggled in a creepy manner, as they descended. All the lights were out, and it was impossible to see anything. "The creepy crawlies sneaking under your sheets..."

"Enough Jess!" Michael told her, and Jess took another bite of her cookie. "Where's the light switch? I've only ever been down here in the day with the door open."

"Its on that wall," Jess pointed.

"...I can't see where you're pointing Jess," Michael informed her dryly.

Left, you fool, the Darkness informed him in a grudging tone. Steering the snake tentacles directly ahead of him, to stop him walking into anything that could potentially break his nose, Michael released Claire's hand and stepped forwards toward the left wall.

He stopped as he trod on something soft, and a loud shriek filled the air. Claire and Jess screamed, and Michael stumbled back in horror.

"What the bloody hell was that?" he yelled, still beating a hasty retreat. His back collided with something warm and moving and he screamed, along with Claire.


"You walked into me!" his girlfriend was breathing heavily, and he felt her fingers brush across his chest. He took them gently.

"I'm sorry... bloody hell you frightened me!"

"Shhh!" Jess hissed suddenly, and all three of them fell silent, their frightened breathing echoing in the silent basement...

...except it wasn't silent. A rasping breath was coming from somewhere ahead of them, and the stench of fresh raw meat was growing stronger, along with a shuffling sound of something moving slowly closer...

"There's a zombie down here!" Jess squeaked, tugging at her frizzy hair in fright. Michael grabbed her arm and pulled her alongside Claire, painfully aware that this was just like every bad horror movie and good horror novel he had ever seen.

"Stay quiet!" he ordered, trying to stay calm. "It's probably just the Sues playing a trick..."

The explanation fell on deaf ears, as Claire let out another shriek.

"Something just brushed past my leg!" she said, clinging tightly to Michael. Her boyfriend froze suddenly as he felt the faintest draft around his ankles.

"There's something by my feet..." he whispered in horror.

Okay, I'm sick of you acting like such a pansy! The Darkness snapped, and the snake tentacles shot out further from his back, one of them impacting with the light switch –

- at the moment something small and stick limbed, chomped down on Michael's ankle, just above his boot. The agent screamed and raced around the now fully lit room, trying to shake the assailant off. The pain in his leg was unbelievable.

"Leonard!" Jess shrieked, recognising the stick-limbed creature attached to Michael.

Sure enough, the deformed conjoined twin was hanging off Michael by his teeth, with the strangest contraption ever attached to his back. It looked like some kind of harness, attached to a pole which rose high above Leonard's head. Attached to the end of the pole, was a long piece of string with a bit of meat attached to the end, so that it dangled above Leonard's face. The intention presumably was to keep him occupied while Jess had been at the party – though it was anyone's guess how he had got down the stairs to the basement.

"Michael hold still!" Claire ordered, grabbing a chair beside the door, and taking careful aim. Michael managed to hold still long enough, biting back his pain, as Claire impacted the back of the chair onto Leonard, ripping his teeth from Michael's leg and sending him sprawling onto the ground.

"HOLY FUCKING HELL!" Michael screamed, sinking to the floor and clutching his leg, which was bleeding profusely. Jess ripped open her bag and dumped it on Leonard's head, scooping him up and zipping it tightly shut.

"Let me see. Let me see!" Claire insisted, prying her boyfriend's shaking hands away. Deep teeth marks were gouged in his skin, and blood was pouring free and soaking into the legs of his black trousers.

"Jess, that creature of yours is a fucking psycho!" Michael yelled. "And I know psychos!"

"I'm sorry!" Jess wailed, kneeling down and rummaging in the pharmacy pocket of her bag for bandages. "Here! Wrap it up with these!"

"Do you all mind?" came the snooty voice of Mary-Ann Twilight, in the nearest cell.

"Yeah we're trying to sleep!" Harold snapped, throwing an empty mug at the bars of his cell, the clang waking several of the more heavy sleeping Sues from slumber.

"Some of us perfect beings need our beauty sleep you know," Silver flicked his 'perfect' hair in the direction of the agents.

"FUCK OFF!" Claire, Jess and Michael screamed in unison, with equal venom. And to everyone's surprise, Silver actually backed off, looking mildly afraid.

"We need to get him back to Valerie," Claire stated.

"Better do what we came here to do as well," Jess added, her fear and the shock of Leonard being down here sobering her fast. She got to her feet, and faced the wide awake Sues.

"Have any of you been having strange flashbacks at all this evening?"

Several of the listening Sues exchanged confused looks, and Harold and Silver smirked.

"Having problems upstairs are we?"

"None of your business," Claire snapped. "Now are you going to tell us?"

Another look was exchanged, and every prisoner in the basement burst into loud laughter. Michael growled, and tentacles of Darkness shot from his back, through the bars, and pinned Harold and Silver against the wall of their cell. Another two lifted him into the air since he had lost use of one of his legs.

"Jess..." he growled. "You do the honours."

Claire smirked and unlocked the cell, while Jess rummaged in her bag and produced her trusty, ferocious looking, body piercing needle. Silver and Harold went pale.

"You wouldn't dare!" Harold hissed, but his pupils shrunk horribly as he saw the demonic smirk on Jess's face, and he realise with a fit of terror, that she would do it without hesitation.

"You'd all better watch closely," she smirked, drawing close to Silver, and brushing his hair away from his ear. "And you'd better stay still..."

"Nooo! My skin! My perfect flawless skin!" Silver wailed as the needle pressed gently against his earlobe. "We'll talk! We'll talk!"

Jess withdrew slightly, smiling widely. "Good... now tell us, have you been having any flashbacks at all this evening?"

"Not a one!" Silver shook his head. "None at all."

"Wimp!" Harold snapped, but he gulped as Jess advanced on him.

"I don't have to use this on your face y'know," she stated, her eyes flicking down to a certain area of the Stu's anatomy. From his position suspended by his tentacles, Michael winced.

"That's hitting below the belt Jess."

"Literally," Jess beamed, sadistically.

"How did Leonard get in?" Claire asked. "That door has been locked all evening."

Michael too was suspecting something amiss here, and was sure that even locked up, the Sues in the basement had something to do with the spell. Harold jerked his head in the direction of the air vent in the corner of the room, just big enough for Leonard to wriggle through, the grate of which was hanging wide open.

"Little bastard came in about an hour ago... frightened us all half to death. The only reason he didn't get into any of our cells was because of that thing attached to his back."

Somehow, inconceivable as it was, Jess was sure that they were telling the truth. Sighing in defeat, she dropped her arm back to her side, and turned on her heel.

"We're done here..." she muttered, shoving the needle back into her bag. Silver let out a smug chuckle.

"Knew she wouldn't do it."

Jess paused at the door to the cell, and turned slowly on her heel, a dark smirk spreading across her face.

"I'd pierce you right now if I wasn't feeling so..."

Her eyes glazed over before she could finish her sentence, and she swayed on her spot, before dropping like a stone onto the floor. Claire hurried to her side, but she knew as she rolled her over that Jess was deeply asleep.

"Damn," Michael muttered. "What do we do now?"

Dragging Jess from the cell, Claire hastily locked up behind her, and Michael let Harold and Silver drop to their feet. "We go back upstairs and let Valerie look at your leg. And we tell Tash what we've learned."

Michael tilted his head, as Claire bent down and hauled the unconscious Jess over her shoulder. "What have we learned?"

Claire gave Michael a grim look that did not match her usually cheerful personality.

"That for whatever reason, this spell is only targeting Society Agents, not Sues."


"Have you had any flashbacks tonight, Lady Miriku?" Cristoph enquired of the shorter agent. Miriku turned to look up at him.

"Oh yeah. I didn't think much of them though to be don't really think much of your memories when you're reminiscing, do you?"

Cristoph shrugged. "I would not know. I have very few memories of my past to call on."

Miri wondered briefly if this was what it would be like to talk to the Pharaoh in Yu-Gi-Oh – overly formal, and constantly having to remember not to bring up sensitive subjects, such as self induced amnesia...although whether Cristoph's apparent lack of past was self induced or not, no one knew.

"So what do you think this is?" she asked him, as they turned into the next corridor. "Flashback spells... sleeping spells. Not overly benign is it?"

"Not in the slightest," the ninja agreed. "I am sensing Sueishness all over these events. I can only hope that we have not been infiltrated."

Even as he spoke, the monitor room door was fast approaching, and Miriku picked up her pace. As she jogged toward the door however, Miriku stopped dead and slammed backwards into the floor with a cry of pain. Cristoph skidded to a halt and blinked slowly, before slipping a shuriken from his belt and throwing it down the corridor. Miriku, who was pulling herself upright, shrieked as she saw the spinning weapon flying towards her, and ducked down hastily as it clanged into a large, glass like bubble, blocking their way.

"Well... that's different," Cristoph frowned, as Miriku stood up slowly and placed one hand on the bubble. She winced a little as it was forced away.

"I don't think we're getting through that," she stated. "And you're right. I'm seeing Sueishness all over this..."

Both of them stood, and just stared at where they knew this invisible dome like barrier lay, blocking their progress, before Cristoph spoke again.

"I suggest we report back to Lady Tash."





The leader's head rose from where it had been balanced on her hands. Her elbows were pressed hard into the table, but she didn't care about the ache that had begun to build in her joints. She was still dealing with a small part of her heart that was aching at the enormity of what she had been forced to do today.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Harriet didn't need to look up at Tash to see that her face was shaken. Nor did she need to ask what she meant. But ask she did.

"Tell you what?"

The co founder stepped over the threshold to the leader's office, and into the dark room, trying not to stumble over stacks of paperwork, discarded clothes, and abandoned copies of All Out Cricket.

"Why did you never tell me that Willowe was your creation?"

Harriet still flinched at the word 'creation'. It was like calling the Sue her child.

"Lauren and I never asked where she came from, or why you were chasing her so badly... we just listened to how much you hated her, and we felt it too in time."

Oh how Harriet wished Tash would just shut up. But her friend carried on.

"All this time... these months we've been living together. Why couldn't you trust us with the truth?" Tash stood beside her desk, her eyes begging her friend to erase her confusion. "Did you think we'd hate you, or judge you? We would never have judged you..."

No, you wouldn't have, Harriet thought to herself. You're hiding your own secrets... you know why it must be done sometimes.

She got slowly to her feet, not meeting Tash's eyes.

"I know you wouldn't have judged me. None of you would have. You would all forgive me for my past mistakes, blame it on my age and my own stupidity. But even through all that, I couldn't forgive myself for any of the things Willowe has done."

Tash's eyes went wide. "You... you think... you blame yourself?"

Harriet nodded, her eyes downcast. "You said it yourself. Willowe is my creation... my child." She spat the word out. "Like a child I never wanted to have. I locked her away, destroyed all evidence of her and pretended she never existed. I'm the reason she turned out the way she is. She's my responsibility."

She paused before continuing. "I wonder every day when it all went wrong. When my innocent writing became so deadly. When I became capable of creating a monster." She gave a mirthless laugh. "We authors are cruel people. We have the power to give lives and take them away. We can start war in our books, send famine or plague, or murder a loved one with just a few words. We can torture our characters, and then abandon them in their unfinished stories and not think twice about it. I've done it. You've done it."

Her hands were shaking by now, and Tash had gone still. She had never heard Harriet sound this dark.

"We have so much power that we're capable of becoming the things we hunt..."

"Stop it," Tash finally said firmly. "You can't think like this..."

Harriet carried on regardless. "Every time I think of Willowe, I'll think of the damage I've caused by bringing her into this world. It'll take a long time to put everything she and her sisters have done right."

"Then do it," Tash turned Harriet around to face her. "Forgive yourself and move on. You know you're sorry, and you've made up for it by catching Willowe and locking her away. All that's left to do is make it up to yourself. Help pick up the pieces and just accept that its all over."

Harriet looked sideways at her friend. "Is it over? Do you really think it is?"

Tash chewed her lip. "Yeah... I think it is."

The leader nodded slowly. "Okay... I can do it."

"You sure?"

"...I don't... I don't know..."





The leader's glazed eyes became clear again, and she snapped her attention to the worried looking healer.

"I'm sorry Valerie," she smiled. "I was having a flashback."

"...that's not a good thing," Valerie informed her, pushing a mug of tea into her hands. The healer was rushed off her feet. In the last ten minutes, Chrys had nodded off, with her head on Aster's shoulder, and Valerie had tripped over Karissa, who was still kneeling next to her sister, sound asleep, clutching her sister's hand.

"Anything?" Valerie asked as she approached Adrian. The Librarian was kneeling beside Tyler and Willie, who had fallen asleep not thirty seconds ago, spilling their mugs of coffee all over the floor. Tash had a handful of kitchen paper and was trying to mop up the mess, while her boyfriend muttered various spells, all of which had no effect what so ever.

"Nothing," Adrian shook his head. "Flashback spells are mostly used for recreational purposes, but this isn't your everyday spell. It's too strong to negated by a general stopping spell. Same with the sleeping spell."

"I'd say the sleeping spell is more dangerous right now," Valerie stated, lowering her voice. "What happens if we all fall asleep? There will be no one to wake us up... ever!"

"We'll negate it," the Librarian promised her firmly. "We just need to find the right spell to get rid of it...I'm sure there's a book on it somewhere in the Library."

Aster nervously glanced around the room. "Who's doing this... and why?"

"That's what we'd all like to know..." Valerie muttered, getting to her feet. Even as she spoke, she could see Doug's eyelids drooping, and Monika seemed to sway on the spot. Dashing over, Valerie was by her side, speaking in low worried tones, as her friend closed her eyes and relaxed into the healer's arms.

"Monika?" Valerie was holding back tears. "Wake up... please?"

Stacey's arms were wrapped around the healer's shoulders, as Danielle curled up beside them both. Five seconds later, the redhead was sleeping too.

"We have to stop this," Adrian said, turning to Aster, who was still hovering in the air, and Tash, who was crouched on the floor, paper towels frozen in mid air, her eyes glazed.

"Tash?" Adrian shook her shoulder, and the leader snapped out of it, her cheeks flushing a marvellous shade of red.

"Oh... sorry... that was weird..."

"Another one?" the Librarian asked, Tash nodded.

"But it was strange...most of my flashbacks tonight have been related to what we've been talking about at the time. This time, you guys were talking about this spell, and then I started remembering about..." the blush increased. "Well...the first time you and I..."

Adrian placed a hasty hand over her mouth. "I get the picture love."

"Lord Adrian!" Cristoph skidded to a halt, next to the Librarian, with a disgruntled looking Miriku racing into the room behind him ("I have short legs Cristoph!").

"Any active portals?" Adrian asked. Cristoph shook his head.

"We could not check. When we attempted to approach the monitor room, a barrier prevented us from entering.

Adrian's face paled. "Big and clear like glass? Tried to force you away when you touched it?"

"Yeah," Miriku nodded, rubbing the sore spot on the back of her head, as she panted for breath from the marathon dash between rooms. Adrian nodded.

"That's what blocked the Fourth Wall off from Emily and myself."

At this point, Michael and Claire staggered back into the room, Claire supporting the sleeping Jess. Adrian and Tash were horrified when they saw blood still oozing through the bandage around Michael's leg, and the agent limping heavily.

"What happened?" Adrian demanded, hurrying to give Michael a shoulder to lean on.

"Leonard happened," Michael grumbled, easing onto a sofa. "And then Jess fell asleep, and as soon as we got into the corridor, the Darkness buggered off and we had to carry her."

"Never mind that," Tash stated, taking Jess from him, and dumping her unceremoniously on a sofa, her handbag on her lap. "We need to get Valerie to take a look at that leg."

"Had any of the Sues broken out?" Adrian asked, and he was unsurprised when Claire shook her head. He had not expected this to be the case – after all, the Library's alarms would have sounded.

"No, in fact," Claire paused, trying to organise her thoughts. "The flashback and sleeping spells don't seem to be affecting them at all. Whatever this spell is, its only cast on us."

Adrian froze, and you could almost see the pieces slotting into place in his brain. "You know...I don't think those barriers we've been finding were made to keep us out of places..."

"What do you mean?" Valerie asked, as she shuffled over to take a look at Michael's leg, wincing as she peeled the bandages away, and recognised the teeth marks – she was becoming a little too familiar with Leonard's attacks for her liking.

"I think they were designed to keep us in," Adrian finished grimly. "Whoever's cast this spell has done so from the outside, and they don't want us to escape it by getting out of the Library, so they've blocked off all our exits."

"But how could they cast a spell on the Library from outside it?" Tash demanded. "The Library is transdimensional space."

"I think we need to find out," Adrian stated. "And fast."


Emily raced for the second time through the Library, but this time she knew exactly where she was going. She only knew of one room in the Library with exactly what she needed in it, and she wished bitterly that it was not so far away.

She had been close enough to see the tears in Valerie's eyes as Danielle and Monika had fallen asleep, and she knew that she needed to do something. Agents were falling asleep one by one, and no one seemed close to finding a counter spell. And searching for one spell in a Library this size would be neigh on impossible before everyone finally succumbed to the sleep – herself included.

They needed a faster search. And she knew of someone that could do just that.


"When you say one of these rooms...?" Tash asked, in a dread filled voice. Adrian looked equally bleak.

"I mean one of these eight rooms in this corridor."

"And each room contains...?" Miriku was chewing hard on her lip.

"Over ten thousand books in each," the Librarian stated. "Some have fifteen thousand."

"And we have..."

"Sixteen confirmed sleeping agents," Marcus stated, one ear pressed to his communicator. Michael was on the other end, keeping the group updated on the condition of the rest of the Society. "Oh wait... make that seventeen. Terrie just fell asleep."

He hastily split himself in two to better aid the search, Emotion Marcus taking control of the phone.

"I still think I should have come too..." Michael stated on the other end of the line.


Adrian ran an anxious hand through his hair and turned to face the few gathered agents who had come with him.

"Okay men-"

"And women," Tash couldn't help herself, and she managed a sheepish grin when Adrian glared at her.

"We should split up and search. Keep the comms open. Anyone who finds anything let me know immediately." He pointed to the first room. "Tash, you take this one. Miriku you take door number two."

Both girls nodded, and split up into their respective rooms. Adrian turned to point to the two Marcus's.

"Thought Marcus, you take room three. Emotion Marcus, room four."



"And Aster, you take room five," Adrian finished. The fae nodded obediently and hurried off to the room. Adrian was puzzled as he noticed that Aster had not switched back to human form, and he wondered if she was hoping that she would have more defence against a sleeping spell as a fae.

For her sake, and all their sake, he hoped that they all stayed awake long enough.


"Oh nice try..." the Stu's voice was smug as he observed the events in the Library, through what appeared to be a hazy looking wall with a large crack down the centre. "But not good enough..."

"Can I do it?" the purple haired Sue was grinning widely, twirling a small silver key between her fingers. The white haired Stu nodded.

"Sure. It'll distract them long enough for the spell to take effect...and provide us with some entertainment while we wait."

The Sue let out an excited giggle as she hurried to a corner of the room, and dragged a large cage into the centre of the room. Placing it beside the wall, she unlocked the top, and picked up one of the small wriggling creatures from within, and tossed it casually through the crack in the wall.

"How many?" she asked. The Stu shrugged.

"Six will do," he stated. "One for each of those unlucky agents."


"Anything?" Adrian asked, frowning as he realised that his communicator was not built to accommodate kitty-hybrids. He shifted the speaker up to his ear, which twitched as the responses started coming through.

"Not a thing," Miriku stated. "Just a lot of books on how to stop magical plants, fungus and bacteria from spreading in your house...nearly all of them from different universes, I might add, and a handful of them not in English."

"Marcus...both of you," Adrian swiftly amended.

"N-nothing Adrian..."


"Aster?" Adrian enquired hopefully.

"Kyaa~...there's a book on a hundred and one ways to make a three dimensional illusion of any scene from a television show or film..." the fae replied, and everyone could almost hear the light bulb going off above her head. "Hey! I wonder if I could use this for anime..."

Adrian would have told Aster off, were it not for the loud crashing noise, and the scream of "Bollocks!" from room number one.

"Tash?" the Librarian was ready to run to the room, thinking for a wild minute that she might have fallen asleep. But then reason caught up with him – she would not have been able to swear at that volume if she had fallen asleep.

"Ow..." the chief agent's voice was pain filled. "I fell on my coins..."

"What happened Aneki?" Miriku demanded. From the long pause, it sounded as though Tash were trying to get her head together, as she staggered to her feet, the coins of her costume jingling in the background.

Then there was a long silence.

"Umm... guys," from the rapid jingling of her outfit, Tash was beating a hasty retreat away from something. "I tripped over a Potential Subplot."

That was the last thing Adrian expected to hear, and Miriku gasped in fear, while Thought Marcus gulped, and Emotion Marcus began swearing in a loud voice.

"Everyone quiet!" Adrian snapped, silencing the noisy agent half. "Tash what's it doing?"

"It's just... staring at me."

"Get out of there," Adrian said instantly. "As fast as you can."

"I can't! It's between me and the door..."

"Adrian!" Miriku squeaked suddenly. "There's one in my room too!"

Adrian's back straightened and the hairs on his neck prickled, as he felt a set of eyes on him, and he knew as he turned around, just what he would find.

It looked for all the world like a small Plot Bunny. But unlike regular Plot Bunnies, who's bodies were black and comprised of strings of compressed words rather than flesh and blood, these bunnies were brightly coloured, and Adrian could tell just what kind of subplot they were supposed to induce by their markings and colour.

His body went numb.

"Adrian, what do purple Subplots with white circles do?" Tash asked fearfully. The Librarian did not want to answer, but his lips moved anyway.

"Brainwashing subplots."

Tash let out a curse word that while very nasty, was wholly appropriate given the circumstances.

"Run!" Adrian shouted, snatching the pendant from around his neck, and yelling the chant as the bunny jumped off the back of the sofa and leaped straight for his throat.


"Adrian? Adrian? Tash? Anyone?" Valerie was doing something she rarely did – losing her patience. The search team were not responding to their comms any longer, which either meant that they had found the spell and were trying to put it into practise, they were all distracted, or worse, they had all fallen asleep.

Unfortunately, Valerie was betting the latter. Almost all the agents around her were now sleeping, covered by blankets, shawls and throws, resting on the sofas, armchairs or otherwise leaning on large cushions. Some were snoring gently away, and overs were cuddling each other in their sleep.

"We should check on them," Stacey suggested. "If they've fallen asleep we'll need to continue the search."

"We can't just leave the other agents!" Valerie insisted, waving a hand at the dozing masses in the room, the steady drone of snoring agreeing with this statement. Most of the agents were frowning or whimpering in their sleep, and Valerie could sense that the flashbacks were causing most of them incredible distress.

"Valerie, they're sleeping," Michael pointed out, already getting to his feet and forcing growling as the tentacles of Darkness dissolved to whispers of shadow in the light of the room. Claire hastily got to her feet and offered her shoulder to him, and he smiled gratefully to her.

"And you're injured," Valerie reminded him, nodding to his properly bandaged leg. "You can't carry them back if they've fallen asleep, and Claire can't either while she's supporting you."

"Once we get to the darker corridors I should be able to use the Darkness to support me," Michael argued. "We can't just leave them all!"

"And we can't leave these people either," Valerie retorted. "We don't know what might happen to them while they're sleeping. They need supervision!"

"Guys," Claire interrupted suddenly, pointing to a nearby cushion. "Cristoph is sleeping."

Sure enough, the ninja was sprawled on the floor, completely unconscious. Valerie sighed, and went to check him. Already she could sense the horror that the flashback was putting him through and it brought a lump to her throat. She couldn't leave, not when so many of the agents seemed to be recounting horrific moments of their lives...

You should go, Valerie.

Valerie blinked as the voice of Ari sounded in her head, and the small fire lizard appeared out of between, settling on the back of one of the sofas, and surveying her with sharp blue eyes.

I know you want to stay and help these people. Her guardian spirit stated. But you would do better to help the others find the means to end this spell... after all, there are not many people left awake with magical ability. She nodded her triangular head at the healer. Go. I shall watch the sleeping agents.

Valerie would have hugged her muse, but she was conscious that time was not on their side, and so she hastily got to her feet, projecting her thanks toward the fire lizard, as she turned toward the others, just in time to see Stacey yawn widely. Her determination seemed to shrink as she watched her friend blink.

"I feel tired..." Stacey managed out, before slumping forwards onto a footstool, her camera falling out of her limp hand and onto the floor with a clatter. Valerie chewed hard on her lip.


Go. Ari urged, swooping low toward the latest sleeper. I will watch them.

Steeling herself towards the door, Valerie tried not to look at her sleeping friends, less their faces draw her into staying, and focused instead on Michael and Claire. "Let's go... before its too late."

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