Sunday, March 18, 2012

Insert Casual Battle in the Dead of Night Here

The majority of the clocks within the Library currently read 11:30 pm.

Even at this time of evening, Charis obediently let herself be pulled away from her lab for what was to be the fourth time that day. The first three times her removal had been justified by the reason that, otherwise, her sister would have starved if she hadn't cooked something for her; however, Charis was curious what Karissa wanted this time around.

"Where are you taking me now?" she complained half-heartedly as she was led around by the light grip on her wrist.

When she was safely ensconced inside her laboratory, Charis could usually convince herself that only a few inches of pathetic drywall separated her from fresh air. But as her field of view was faced with row upon rows of a countless number of books, she began to feel a bit queasy. The book stacks were impossibly high, too, emphasizing just how much space separated her from the Library's exterior.

"Where are you taking me?" she repeated a second time, but her cheerful tone had taken a turn for the worse, and additionally she chafed slightly against her sister's hold.

Karissa turned wide eyes on her. "Oh, sorry, Charis, I forgot about your claustrophobia. Tash sent an e-mail saying she wanted to see us in the conference room." The younger girl noted the sudden paleness that afflicted her sibling. "I've been trying to take the shortest possible route to get there, but since your lab is out-of-the-way downstairs...there isn't really a short route, just one shorter than all the others."

Charis offered a weak chuckle. She perked up a bit once they'd passed into a part of the Library with no books – there were a scattering of Agents' personal rooms in this hallway. Most of the doors stood open, and she could see that almost no one was in bed at this hour. A large majority of the Society were Night Owls. They passed one occupied room, though, and both girls felt obliged to call a greeting.

"Night, Pete!"

"Are you going somewhere? Off for a midnight snack, or out on a mission?" Pete came to the door of his room, and seemed genuinely curious about their passing.

"We're pretty sure it's a mission," Charis spoke, but her eyes were fixed shyly past his face as she replied to him. The corners of her mouth kept trying to twist into a smile of their own accord.

"Mind if I tag along?"

"You mean you want to walk with us, or you want to accompany us on the mission?" Karissa asked slyly. Her eyes darted knowingly between the other two.

Pete only shrugged noncommittally, and then he reached with his hand for a pair of glasses folded up in his pocket. Putting them over momentarily closed eyes, Himuro spoke afterwards, "Charis, have you seen my Genderbender? Pete had it last, and he's hidden it and won't tell me where it is."

"Ah, Himuro." Charis' eyes finally made eye contact. "No, I don't know where Pete might have put it, I'm sorry." There was no flush in her cheeks anymore.

"Walk with us," Karissa commanded. She seemed annoyed for some reason that Pete's alter-ego had popped up. Together, the new group of three continued the trek to the mission room.


"It took you long enough to get here." By the time they arrived, the Society leader wasn't in a bad mood – or else they would have immediately run back from whence they came – but they had without doubt seen her in better moods than this.

"I'm sorry," Karissa apologized to Tash. "Charis' lab is pretty far away-"

"Hey, Charis, were you just going to leave without telling me? We have things to talk about regarding the Anachron device before tomorrow." Douglas interrupted from the wheelchair he had been put in after his last mission in the Surrogates fandom.

Karissa's eyes boggled. "How did you get up here so fast?"

Charis was intrigued as well. "I'm sure you were still next-door in your lab when I left with my sister."

Doug gave them both an exasperated look. "There's a winding ramp at one end of the Science hallway that terminates right around here. You must have gone up the stairs next to Jared's lab; that route takes twenty minutes longer, I might add."

Charis shot her sibling an accusing glare. She had undergone how much extra anxiety during their journey, and for what?

Tired of saying sorry, Karissa communicated an apology in silence instead.

"Charis?" Doug pressed.

"Um, I honestly forgot about our discussion, Doug. We can reschedule for after I return from this mission, right?"

"Alright," he grumbled. Looking to Tash, he said, "Sorry for bothering you. I'll leave you to them for the present."

"Thank you." Bursting with irritation at the number of delays, the leader asked, "What about you, Pete? Why are you here?"

"I want to go with you on your mission, of course." Pete recovered the conversation from where he remembered leaving off. Apparently, this wasn't one of the times where he was aware that Himuro had taken over from him.

"My mission?" Tash raised an eyebrow. "Fine, if you want, you can team up with Charis and Karissa on their mission." Business-like, she addressed the sisters, "Which one of you has the better knowledge of the Midnighters trilogy?"

"That would be me," Karissa said with a scholarly air.

Tash deferred to the younger sister. "I guess you're the best-suited to lead this mission. I want you to enter the fandom in the time between Touching Darkness and Blue Noon, and you must try again to capture Lela and Viva."

Charis gritted her teeth upon hearing the Sues' names, and a pitying sort of look came into Karissa's eyes at the same time. The only one who wasn't affected personally by the announcement was, of course, Pete. He pounded one fist in his hand, and said, determinedly, "We'll do our best, Tash."

"Good luck, girls... and Pete." Before she lost her composure, Tash turned around and stifled a giggle. She hadn't intended for Pete to escort Charis and her sister, but now that she thought about it, she couldn't have orchestrated events any better herself.


"We left so quickly," Pete protested. "Is there a reason to be in such a hurry? I couldn't grab any gadgets besides what I'm wearing on me, which is my belt."

"You won't even need that," Karissa said dismissively, without any regard to the connotations other more twisted Agents might assign to her words.

Charis was the last to jump through the Plothole, and as she pocketed her Plothole Generator with one hand, she hoisted a bulky sack up on her shoulder with the other.

"Let me carry that for you," Pete offered.

"Okay," Charis agreed, but when their hands drew close, she let go of the bag a little too quickly. Her fingertips tingled as if a spark had run through them.

Pretending not to notice the same sensation, Pete commented, "Wow. That's a lot of metal. What's it all for?" He stared at the sheer quantity of metal that had been dumped over the ground when the sack opened up.

Karissa smiled broadly at something that had pleased her. "It's stainless steel. Steel and other advanced alloys are the most effective tools to fight the antagonists in this series. The Darklings are ancient creatures that were once the dominant species on the planet, but maybe because they're so old they hate anything new or considered 'technology'".

"We can just throw this stuff at them?" Pete asked sceptically.

"Don't worry, we have a plan." Whereas Karissa's words might not have reassured him, Charis' speech put a stop to his questions.

"Enjoy your welcome to the Secret Hour."

The Secret Hour, also known as the Blue Time, was limited to this town of Bixby, Oklahoma as far as anyone knew. True, at the end of Blue Noon it was suggested that the Secret Hour might have spread to other cities located at certain coordinates - it really had to do with the latitude and longitude being multiples of 12, a number strongly associated with the Darklings - but thankfully the series had never spawned the oh-so-popular money-making unplanned-sequel, and so the theory had never been confirmed.

The buildings of the small town of Bixby looked more or less as they should in a few hours' time – that is, in daytime – but in the light of the hidden 25th hour the surrounding area was awash in a mysterious blue not seen normally. There was an absence of polluting sound or movement as well, but that was as a result of the overall lack of humans out and about outdoors. According to canon only those born precisely at midnight could move around in the Blue Time. The Agents had freedom of movement because they'd each taken an Oneshot accurately in the split second during which they crossed over to the fandom.

Pete and Charis looked around wonderingly at the nightscape as they walked jaws ajar. Karissa seemed more nonplussed about the whole situation, and on top of that there was a fresh skip in her step.

"No fair! You've acquired the abilities of an Acrobat!" It hit Charis abruptly why her sister's jumping had struck her as strange. During the Blue Time, acrobats experienced reduced personal gravity, allowing them to jump dramatically farther and higher. They could appear to fly when they took a great, running jump.

Karissa smirked. "What skills do you and Pete have?"

Charis ran through a variety of mental exercises in her head. "I think I'm a Polymath," she said dejectedly. "Pete, what's the square root of 1024?"

"32," was his instant reply.

"You're a polymath too, Pete. All we have is the inherent aptitude for mathematics."

"Don't say that like it's a bad thing." The Agents spun around to the voice of Desdemona ("Dess"), the premier polymath of the series. Beside her were acrobat Jonathan Martinez and Flame Bringer Jessica Day. Jessica had been the primary protagonist in The Secret Hour, and she continued to carry a great importance throughout the rest of the series, although she was by no means more endearing than her other teammates. "I don't remember any gossip about new kids in town. Where are you from, Midnighters?"

Although there shouldn't be any reason for Dess to mistrust them – when it came to Midnighters, it was more like every new one that was discovered was cause for celebration – Karissa thought that, from the start, Dess' voice was guarded. Equally wary, she replied, "You're right, we come from out-of-town. We just happened to be visiting, and thought we'd stay through the Secret Hour." She told no lies, but there were gaping holes in her story, if Dess cared to find them.

Boldly, Jessica dropped her boyfriend's hand and stepped forward. "Are you the ones who kidnapped Rex and Melissa?" She held a heavy flashlight in her left hand, its beam on. Her power to bring technology into the Secret Hour was especially dangerous to Darklings, but she could damage the Agents too if she chose to swing the thing at their heads.

Charis spoke up immediately in their defence. "No! We don't know anything about any kidnappings!"

Jonathan made a move to recapture his girlfriend's hand. "Calm down, Jessica. They're not the ones responsible. The kidnappers I saw were two females, yeah, but one of them was an adult. They are just kids like us."

Hardly! Pete thought, but he didn't dispute the fact that he was actually 20.


"Ow! W-what you just said. Rex and Melissa are missing?" Karissa forcefully took hold of the conversation and dragged it back on-topic, but she nursed a new bruise from the author's not-too-subtle nudging as she did so. "Why would Lela and Viva target main characters? Sues usually try to befriend canon characters; they don't get them out of the way."

"In my opinion, they are the strongest Midnighters. I didn't want them available to help you. If I could, I would have removed these three before you arrived, as well."

Following the trend she'd started in Insert Evident Demonic Contract Here (somewhere in transdimensional space, a tremor rocked the Library), Lela appeared as if from nowhere, and Viva stuck to the Sue like a second shadow. "Surprise! You've walked into a trap, Agents. Congratulations!"

Pete immediately passed a hand over his belt buckle, revealing a relief of a white dragonfly, and his Lightdrake armour covered his clothes. However, neither Karissa nor Charis moved to produce any weapons. Charis simply held out a hand to her sister. "A trap?"

Karissa slapped a five-dollar bill into her waiting palm. "Yeah, it was a trap. There, paid in full."

"How could you willingly walk into a trap, knowing it was here?" For a moment, Lela put aside her enmity for a tone of true puzzlement.

Karissa rolled her eyes. "If you're the one who springs the trap, you have to be at the centre of it. And how will I ever capture you if I don't come to the source of the trap– to you?"

Heavy silence emanated from the Sues' side. Lela flipped her short hair away from her face impatiently, and just like that the silence disappeared. "In any case, I've got you where I want you. Let's see you try to defeat a whole army of Darklings."

"How will you summon–" Karissa began. Before she'd finished speaking, Viva dropped to the ground, threw her head back, and began to morph. The lines separating the separate pieces of her clothing ran together – black on black – and her spine contorted dangerously. The Sue's arms and legs became heavily muscled, and with a terrible sound a long black tail uncoiled behind her. The transformed Sue was nothing more than a large cat, but she was frightening nonetheless.

"Voila! A makeshift Darkling. They alone can make their kind heed a call." Lela grinned madly. This time, when Viva reared her head, she let loose a deafening roar. Wing beats began to be heard in the sky, not far from where they all stood.

Jonathan spoke up mildly. "Besides the fact that we've found our kidnappers, and besides the fact that I just saw a human change into a cat – to think I thought what we do was pretty unbelievable – why do I get the feeling that things are about to get a lot more interesting?"

"Because you're right!" Karissa shouted. She tore the sack of metal from Pete's grasp, and began to rapidly distribute its contents to both Agents and characters. "I know you already have some weapons," she told the Midnighters. "They might have names as well, but we brought along a list of words ourselves, and now we don't have the time to compare vocabularies. Please take a part of our list, and use it anyways. Knowing Lela, I anticipate that a lot more Darklings than you're used to are on their way."

At the same time, Charis was explaining to Pete, "The materials that we use to fight Darklings have to be blessed with names; thirteen-letter words. Take a piece of steel in your hands, hold it to your lips, and call its name just like this." Charis near-kissed a two-pronged fork, uttering "Abbreviations," and in one fluid movement she turned and skewered a snake-like Slither on its end. "Got that memorized?" she asked him sweetly, and then she called to Karissa, "The cavalry has arrived!"

The initial scene of the battle was too chaotic to describe. Above the din, the oddest words were bellowed out: "Abiogenically!", "Abnormalities!", "Abolitionists!", and then some.

Aboriginality Abortifacient Absorbability Absquatulated Absquatulates Abstractional Acariciandote Accelerations Accelerometer Accentuations Acceptability Accessibility Accessorizing Acciaccaturas Accidentalism Acclimatizers Acclimatizing Accommodating Accommodation Accommodative Accommodators Accompaniment Accomplishers Accomplishing Accordionists Accouchements Accountancies Accouterments Accoutrements Accreditation Acculturating Acculturation Acculturative Accumulations Adulterations Affectivities Affirmatively Affordability Anfractuous Antifeminists Appropriation Arachnophobia

Bloodcurdling Brainstorming Brogdignagian

Cardiologists Categorically Coeducational Congregations Conscientious Conspicuously Constitutions Contortionist Contraception Contradiction Coronaphobiac

Daguerreotype Decaffeinated Deceitfulness Decompression Deliciousness Demonstration Dependability Dictatorships Disappearance Discomforting Dysfunctional

Electromagnet Encyclopedias Exaggerations Explosiveness

Felicitations Foreshortened Fortification

Geostationary Globalization Gratification Gynecologists

Hallucinogens Heterosexuals Hyperinflated Hypochondriac

Illuminations Illustrations

Anytime a Midnighter faced off against a Darkling, the human combatant won, albeit with some difficulty. However, for the first time that Karissa could remember, Lela immersed herself personally in the fight as well. Karissa came face-to-face with her fated rival with no little astonishment. "How do you think you're going to fight me?" she taunted the Sue, remembering their encounter in the DGray-man fandom where Lela's repertoire had consisted of various – yet functionally limited – blocks.

Lela thrust a hand out, and Karissa barely phased out of the visible spectrum in time to throw off her aim. Her invisibility didn't faze the Sue for more than a second though, and Lela reciprocated with another jab that arced through the air eerily close to her real location. "You've never tested the powers of a Pureblood have you?" Lela held back a laugh. She sent forth a barrage of wind that shouldn't have posed a threat to Karissa. The Agent moved to take a step out of the way, but against her will she walked into the attack. She cried out against the improbable pain of a slip of a breeze slicing into her skin like razors.

"My ability will not only distort your sense of balance and direction, but it will then cut you to the bone when you enter its embrace." Lela pushed more wind towards Karissa, and true to her word, Karissa felt more cuts open up all along her arms. "My empathetic connection wouldn't let me access my Pureblood powers before, but among other things, my demon is an unnaturally good teacher." Two paces away, Viva pounced upon Jonathan – still in her quasi-Darkling form – and when she spread her jaws she might have been smiling in response to her master's praise.

"Jonathan, no!" Charis distantly heard Jessica scream, and from the spot where she fought back-to-back with Pete, she came to realise that they were losing. The conclusion of this battle wouldn't turn out well for the Agents and their allies, unless good fortune intervened. "Pete, cover me!" she yelled, breaking the connection of their bodies. Fishing around in her pocket – no, the other pocket, she didn't want her Plothole Generator – Charis pulled out what appeared to be a Nike swoosh-shaped keychain. Pete cleared a path for her as she headed towards the centre of all the destruction.

Although no one paid her any mind, Charis still hesitated before she used her device. She didn't do so out of dramatic effect, but she wanted to make sure her sister wouldn't be hurt by what she was about to do. "Reality check!" she announced, as she hurled the keychain-object to the ground. Instantly, a visible Karissa stopped screaming in pain; Lela stared at her hands dumbly, at a loss to the reason why her powers had vanished; Viva shuddered before returning to a human form; last of all, Pete's armour disappeared without a trace.

"What did you do?" he asked in a panic. The struggle still raged on around them, and Pete raked a steel knife he still held down a Darkling's side, in the only way to ward it away from Charis. If the yowl it gave was any indication, enchanted metal was effective all the same.

"A reality check works in fandoms where the setting nearly parallels the real world. It causes any foreign invaders of the fandom to temporarily lose their powers, be they Agent or Sue," Charis panted. As she made her explanation, she too continued to brandish her canon weapons. "Any powers we brought in with us are nullified from this point on. We can only continue fighting with these weapons because the metal was powerless until we named it, and we did that after we entered the fandom."

Karissa caught on quick, although she hadn't heard Charis' full-length explanation. She staggered over to her fellow Agents, running rapidly through her remaining list of words and losing weapons in Darklings for every inch of ground she covered. Jessica had helped Jonathan recover from Viva's lunge, and the Midnighters were grouped together once more, just like the Agents. Dess hardly looked battle-weary at all as she nodded to Karissa, "Those two seem a bit shell-shocked by whatever you did. Should we finish off these Darklings before they snap back?" Of course, by 'those two' she meant Viva and Lela.

Karissa concurred whole-heartedly with Dess' strategy. Clutching the scrap of paper she had left, along with everyone she raised her voice and called the names of every weapon she possessed.

Immunizations Impassiveness Impersonation Imprisonments Inconceivable Indescribable Individualism Individuality Instantaneous Instinctively Intentionally Investigative Irresponsible Irresponsibly

Jurisdictions Jurisprudence

Kaleidoscopes Kleptomaniacs Knowledgeable


Machiavellian Magnetosphere Magnification Magnificently Manipulations Materialistic Miscellaneous

Nonconforming Nonconformist Nonconformity

Obstructively Omnipresently Opportunities Oppressiveness Organizations Overzealously

Particleboard Penultimately Perambulation Personalities Preproduction Prescriptions Psychosomatic Purposelessly


Resplendently Revolutionize Rubbernecking

Sadomasochism Scintillating Selectiveness Serendipities Serendipitous Splendiferous Spontaneously Stereotypical Stratocumulus Superfluously

Technological Televangelist Temperamental Therapeutical Transorbitals

Unanticipated Uncomfortable Undergarments Undergraduate Unfortunately Unintelligent Unjustifiable Unpretentious


The Darkling forces stood no chance against the ultimate onslaught. Any live ones turned tail and fled, leaving the Sues and six humans standing in the shadow of their flight. When the sky had cleared, Karissa made herself turn to Lela, and she saw that she was being comforted by her demon and governess. Lela was crying. "I don't suppose you're ready to turn yourself in?" she enquired softly.

Lela raised a tear-streaked face, and answered defiantly, "Never!" Disgracefully, she threw her arms around Viva's neck, and while being carried she was spirited away by Viva.

"How long do you figure your Reality Check will last, Charis?"

"It won't hold out for five more minutes."

"So we've got five minutes to try and chase them down, or else they'll be gone. They'll be able to produce a Plothole at the same time we can."


Karissa set off first, and after watching her gain a decent head-start, Charis and Pete thought to go as well. "Goodbye, Jess, Dess, Jonathan," Charis politely made their goodbyes. "In five minutes you won't remember any of this. Rex and Melissa will be at the edge of town being embarrassingly romantic as usual. Go find them." She and Pete left before the Midnighters could find any words to express how they felt. Maybe that was best.


"Is this how your missions normally end? I mean, I have a strange rival in Anuhs Weedy, but compared to Lela his motivation seems almost sane." Pete was walking Charis back to her lab, which served as her bedroom whenever she was Inside. They walked closely so that their hands practically touched, but they wouldn't hold hands while others about might see.

"I maintain that Lela is a nutcase because she wants to kill me and Karissa, but she can't because she's related to us," Charis said shortly. She wavered between disdain and compassion for the Sue, right in front of his eyes. "If only Lela weren't so pig-headed. Our Author put her into a comfortable retirement when she decided to stop writing Lela's story, but she treated that the same as if she'd been tossed into the Vault of Abandoned Ideas. Both Karissa and Lela hunger for Cay's affection so much that it skews their perception entirely."

"Oh?" Pete didn't say anything more for a while. Eventually he wanted to suggest to Charis that they talk about something else, but they'd already arrived in front of her door in the Science corridor.

"Thanks for coming today, Pete," Charis said tiredly. "You really didn't have to."

"But I wanted to." When Charis opened the door to go inside, he belatedly called her back. "Charis?" With her searching eyes gazing straight at him, he deliberately stuck his head into her room and kissed her. He took advantage of the closing door to shield them from view. "I wouldn't mind going on other missions with you, some time," he mouthed against her lips.

Charis brushed brilliantly. "Off with you now. G-goodnight."

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