Saturday, January 19, 2013

Insert Mispronounced Daemon Name Here

"Alright," Harriet grumbled, pulling herself into the monitor room. "What's so urgent I had to postpone my viewing of England versus South Africa?"

Ossa jabbed a finger at the monitor, which showed several images of a grand looking city. Other information on the screen included readouts of the world's stability, which was suffering rapid fluctuations, and a large colour picture of an insanely beautiful woman. Harriet felt her breath catch in her throat. That woman seemed far more attractive than even Willowe had been! The leader gave a low whistle.

"Bloody hell, I'd do her..."

Ossa gave Harriet a long look. "If her powers are affecting you in here then we have a serious problem," she concluded, before her eyes drifted back to the screen, and she too felt a draw to the Mary-Sue's depthless blue eyes, so full of wisdom, age and painful beauty. "Still..."

There was a very long silence, which was broken by an exasperated looking Jess, pulling Leonard out of her bag and waving a bottle of cider in his face. Her sidekick gave an inhuman shriek which snapped Harriet and Ossa quickly back to their senses.

"Anyway," Ossa cleared her throat quickly. "This Sue appeared in the His Dark Materials fandom, literally two minutes ago. She's not one we've encountered before, and we're only just getting a proper lock on her powers now..."

She trailed off as the statistics flashed onto the screen. Her eyes went wide and her jaw fell open in disbelief.

"Level ten?" she spluttered, drawing away from the monitor in shock, as the readout continued to rise higher and higher. "Level twelve? Thirteen? Fourteen?"

"Are we sure the machine isn't broken?" Harriet demanded, as the count slowly ticked past level twenty.

"Of course its not broken!" the voice of the Library's sentient and highly naughty computer program interrupted. "I'd know if it was!"

With a flash of light, the holoprojectors leaped into life, and Phoenixia appeared, her arms folded across her ample chest, a dark scowl on her face as she observed the Sue.

"There must be some explanation," Harriet stated. In truth, the prospect of a Sue more powerful than her own satanic offspring had been was more than slightly horrifying to the leader. She turned to the new arrival. "Phoenixia, can you get Tash for us, please?"

Phoenixia raised her eyebrows, and was dying to tell Harriet that she didn't take orders from her, but she nodded nonetheless. The co leader needed to be made known of this.

Ossa meanwhile was giving Harriet a doubtful look. "You sure about sending Tash? She hasn't exactly been... well, herself lately."

And that was a gross understatement. Harriet nodded anyway.

"And that's exactly why I'm going to send her. She needs to get out of this Library."

Ossa shrugged, seeing her point, but shouted after the fading Phoenixia anyway.

"Careful Phoenixia. She was really bitchy when I saw her last night."

Despite this, Harriet found she did not care. Anything was better than the hopelessness that had adorned her friend's face in the weeks following the war.

Bitchy Tash was as close to normal as the Society got right now.


In the wake of Adrian's death, everyone coped with it in different ways, whether it was to internalize the grief and pain and shove it away and try not to think about it, or to rant and yell and punch the walls, or go through a period of moping and crying and listlessness and then recover their functionality, more or less.

Phoenixia got over it by watching the others.

Many of the Agents seemed to be internalizing it, working through it that way. They were subdued around one another and their eyes weren't always in the present, their minds a million miles away. A few were on the road to recovery – Tyler's appetite, after one or two days where he barely eaten, had returned full force and he was smiling a bit more often. Valerie seemed to be taking the best out of all of them-she was just as patient and bright as ever, though Phoenixia had seen through the security cameras, once or twice, the empath crying quietly at her desk when no one else was around.

Aster seemed to have gone insane. It nearly broke Phoenixia's heart to watch the fae sometimes, as she stubbornly refused to believe Adrian was dead and acted like he wasn't, like he was always missing when she found his office or commented how she'd better put the manga back in order or he'd get mad again.

Chrys was recovering slowly, bursting into tears on semi-random occasions, particularly when she got into the last of Tash's chocolate and raced off to find him and nom his ears, thinking that he was in his private quarters...only to find it empty. Luckily, Mizuho was dealing much better with Adrian's death and was able to keep the hanyou from sinking too far into her own grief.

Michael was coping better than others, thanks to he and Claire supporting one another. Indeed, he seemed more angry than anything else – angry that Adrian was dead, that his rival was gone, angry that Adrian had left Tash behind and Michael had been unable to do anything about it. Since the Darkness had apparently disappeared after his return to the Library, he had thrown himself into his training, practicing for hours on end and going through a few dozen of the Library's training dummies in short order.

But there was one that Phoenixia kept a constant eye on, so worried she was about them.

She materialized in the quarters that had once been Adrian's. The lights were dimmed slightly, casting long shadows over everything. "Tash..."

"What?" The Chief Agent – no, Librarian – snapped, lifting her head from where she was reading a book on the sofa, an irritated look on her face.

Phoenixia ignored it. "Hati says, there's a Sue in the His Dark Materials fandom, and it's playing havoc with the scanners – we can't tell if it's level six, twenty or thirty-nine or anything else. She wants you to go check it out."

"I'm busy – have someone else do it." Tash told her sharply and returned to her book. "Now leave me alone."

Noting that Tash indeed being bitchy was indeed an improvement over the zombie-like way she had been walking around (though not by much), Phoenixia calmly walked over to the leader and snatched the book from her hands. "Tash – you are the most combat capable Agent we have, and if that Sue is merely screwing with the scanners by existing, it's definitely more powerful than one of the regular Agents."

"You go do it, then!" the British girl growled and reached for the book, but Phoenixia kept it out of her reach. "Give that back!"

Ignoring the implied 'or else' in Tash's tone, the buxom woman kept it out of her reach. "I can't do it – I don't have a body capable of fighting at the level needed, and if we send another person or even a team of Agents, they could most likely die. Is that what you want?"

For a long moment, the two women started at one another, Tash glaring venom at Phoenxia and the hologram returning her gaze coolly. Then Tash growled and stormed over to the closet, yanking out one of Adrian's trenchcoats – a red with black detailing along the edge – and slinging it on as she stalked out the door.

"I have better things to do with my time – you don't need to come running to the Leaders every single time some damn Sue shows up and starts playing puppet master! If this is a waste of my time, I'll make you regret it!"

Phoenixia watched her leave and then grabbed a bookmark from the table and carefully marking Tash's page and setting the book down, dematerializing back to the Monitor Room, but not before noticing the title of the book.

Destiny's Threads: Midnight Noon
By Adrian the Librarian.


Oxford, Lyra thought, really was the most perfect place to live.

Even with all the worlds she had visited, with all their wonderful buildings and different ways of living, and all the different people, she loved Oxford the best. It was her home, with its grand buildings that seemed to go on forever, and

And yet, she knew that all the perfection of Oxford could not compare to just one more minute with him.

Sensing her straying thoughts, her daemon nosed the crook of her neck, from where he sat on her shoulder. A few snowflakes fluttered from her hair onto his soft reddish brown fur, and he shook them off. Lyra snorted in amusement, before glancing around to check that there was no one else in the gardens, and allowing Pantalamion to race across the snow covered ground to chase a group of squirrels that had nested in one of the trees.

Lyra watched the snowflakes fall and melt in with the four inches of snow that had already gathered on the grounds throughout the whole city. She wrapped her coat tighter around her body, and wished she still had the furs that she had worn up in the north. Though not nearly as cold in Oxford as it had been there, her fingers were already starting to feel the bite as she opened her book and began to read.

She recalled with a wry smile, a time when she would never have been seen sitting quietly in a garden reading a book. But things had changed. She had grown up, and now she had a purpose instead of running around with the servants of Jordan college and making mischief. She was going to study, and remaster using the Alethiometer, even if it took her a hundred years.

A hundred years would be worth it if she could just learn one small thing about Will.


It was for this reason, that a certain newcomer watched her in the Botanical Gardens now, and huffed in annoyance. Since she had entered this fandom not an hour ago, everyone had fallen over themselves to accommodate her. After a recitation of her tragic past, and after proving her intelligence, she had been offered a place at Dame Hannah's school, St Sophia's, as a teacher.

She need not have bothered Рafter all, if she had her way, she would not be spending much time in this fandom. But life had taught her long ago that being prepared was of the upmost importance if one wanted to survive. And there was always a chance after all that. She did not want to be in this fandom any longer than necessary however Рshe knew that the infamous Anti-Clich̩ and Mary-Sue Elimination Society would have detected her entering the fandom soon, and she needed the help of this girl. If by some chance she said no, she would be a teacher at her school long enough to persuade her eventually.

She stroked the soft feathers of her daemon – a pure white dove in this world – and received a coo in response. The woman smiled. Ultimately, divine providence would see her through this difficult time, and she would eventually have what she most desired, exactly as she had always done.

Slowly, she stepped across the snow into the gardens, and approached the girl on the bench.


"Who is that Sue?"

"Not a clue," Harriet declared. "That's why I'm assigning you this mission."

There was a moment where the leader's eyes locked and a brief battle of wills took place, Harriet's gaze informing Tash that she was going on this mission and got no say in the matter, and Tash's returning that leaving the Library was the last thing she wanted to do. Eventually, Tash felt her will resolving. She may be the Librarian now, but when it came to matters of the Society, Harriet still outranked her.

She sighed heavily, and her eyes drifted over the fandom name.

"I'm going to need some help if I want to blend in..."


It had taken a long time for her to break the sealing spell she had placed on this particular fanfiction.

The walls were white, the floor was white, the ceiling was white, the table was white, and the closed portal doors were white...

She was sure it hadn't felt this sterile the last time she came here. Then again, the last time she had been here had been four years ago.

The only splash of colour was six animals, curled up asleep in various places on the floor. Her eyes zoned in on a small bundle of silvery fur, rippling with each breath, small triangular ears twitching occasionally against some unseen annoyance.

She looked so much like Adrian in kitty form that she thought her heart would break.

Squashing her feelings down, she tiptoed to the creature, and place a hand gently on her side. A head swivelled around, and wide green eyes got even wider at the sight of her.

Tash drew a deep breath.

"Hi Sati..."


Harriet looked at the stony faced agents who shared the monitor room with her. She wasn't even trying to look at the cricket, which was now being displayed on one of the smaller monitors, for her benefit.

"So... no one wants to take bets on the survival of this trenchcoat?"

Several very ugly looks in her direction answered that question for her.


"Bollocks," Tash muttered. "This always happens when I go on a mission!"

The second the plothole had sealed up behind her, Tash had realised that she had picked the worst outfit ever to wear to this particular fandom. Not only was she wearing a bright red trenchcoat, but beneath the trenchcoat she wore jeans, black boots, and her Society t-shirt – hardly inconspicuous in this fandom, where most of the girls wore dresses and skirts, and denim was an unknown entity. Not to mention that snow had begun to fall softly to earth, and she had already begun to shiver.

The sensible thing to do at this point would have been to duck into an alley and stay out of sight, but the leader was taken aback by just how grand the buildings of Oxford were. She had never been to Oxford in real life, and while she knew there were some gaping differences between Lyra's Oxford, and real life Oxford, the grandeur of the buildings was something that did not change. The snow only added to the magical effect.

"Bloody hell..." she whistled, before catching sight of a group of children gawking at her from a nearby doorway. Cursing, she proceeded with her original plan of ducking into an alley, wondering briefly why she was talking to herself... before remembering that she was not by herself anymore.

"Your language hasn't improved much in almost five years, has it?" was the dry voice of the grey cat, which bounded to a stop two feet from her, kicking up a small drift of snow beneath her paws. Tash determinedly looked dead ahead toward the other end of the alley, and started to fish out her Plot Summary.

"We're just here to catch a Sue," she said firmly, focusing on triangulating the position of their target, whilst scanning for damage done to the fandom so far.

"Of course..." there was a sarcastic tone to Sati's voice, as she sat back on her rear, her tail swishing from side to side in the snow as she surveyed her human. "You've got taller too..."

"Its called getting older," Tash said shortly, syncing the Plot Summary with the Library computers, and pausing to stuff her hands into her fingerless gloves.

"Hmm... you weren't this blunt when you were seventeen Tash...what does everyone at home think of the older you?"

Several areas of Oxford, including St Sophia's school, were coming up with traces of Sueish energy. Tash tried to focus her mind to what the Sue must have done in her limited time here, but she found she couldn't stop her attention from drifting to what Sati had said.

She knew who the cat really meant when she said "everyone at home".



It had been four whole days...

It felt like four years.

The Library looked as good as new, books stacked neatly, rooms clean, tidy and organised, wood polished, and all electronics fully functional. It was as though there had never been a war.

Yet the faces of the Society agents betrayed the awful truth, along with the horrible empty feeling that the Library's very walls seemed to emanate since the death of their master. There was no full, happy laughter in the halls, most feeling it was disrespectful to the deceased to even be thinking cheerful thoughts.

Or maybe that was just how it felt to her because she felt so dead inside.

She wasn't quite sure what she was doing, as she found a quite room to shut herself into, collapsed onto a sofa and pulled out her phone. But as soon as her fingers touched the keys she knew she needed to do this. She needed to talk...

Zero... one... four... eight... one...

Why did her fingers feel so heavy?

Five rings... and then.


The voice made her throat constrict painfully.

"Hi Jen."

She winced. She sounded hollow to her own ears.

"Hey chicken! I've been trying to call you. Stuck in the Library?"

Not stuck Jen... The Library was ripped to shreds. People died at our hands. The skies bled. I murdered a woman who was trying to destroy the world. I'm now the Librarian and I don't think I can handle it. And Adrian is... is...

"...something like that."

She was chewing hard on her lip, and she tasted blood.

"So, you coming home today? Tomorrow?" the voice took on a joking tone. "In time for my birthday?"

She drew her breath in sharply, and she could almost see her best friend frowning.

"Hey, I'm only joking."

The breath came out as a half sob.



"What happened?"

"...bad day."


Sati didn't even need to look at her human, as they set off down the alley without a word, to know what she was thinking. It didn't matter that almost five years in an untouched fanfiction had greatly dulled the bond between them, she knew enough about Tash's mannerisms to know she was thinking about home. She might not know much about the older Tash, but she did know when her thoughts involved her sisters.

The fact that Tash was being difficult was something she would have to work on. She knew of course, what had happened. She wasn't so far removed from her human's life that she did not know when she had lost someone dear to her – and Adrian had been more than just dear to her. She could already guess how Tash had been dealing with this, and she was determined to do something about it.

And Sati was a cat, who like her human, had a habit of digging her claws into an issue and not letting go.


"I heard about you, when I visited Dame Hannah this morning," the young woman's smile was enchantingly beautiful. Blonde hair had been tucked beneath a warm looking hat, and her coat was of the finest quality, over a perfect figure. Her blue eyes seemed to spell out a tale of horrors and tragedy, and ultimate loneliness.

Lyra was not falling for it. She had seen plenty of beautiful people in her life, and she was wise enough now to know that talons often hid beneath a pretty face. Pantalamion stood at her feet, his eyes fixed on the dove that was perched on the stranger's shoulder. It was a strange creature, and seemed intoxicated by the presence of its own human. And there was something about them both that put both girl and daemon on their guard. Something that felt old, and very very dangerous.

"Did you?" Lyra decided to spin this out, and see what the woman wanted. It would be easier to tell this way, what kind of trouble she was bringing. The woman let another enchanting smile, and Lyra felt her cheeks flush, and for the briefest moment, she wondered why she was so suspicious. Surely someone this friendly could not mean any harm...wasn't it just so much nicer to think that everyone meant well...? Then her reasoning seemed to snap back, as the dove daemon gave a small swoon. Lyra silently berated herself for letting her guard down. After everything she had been through, she should definitely know better than to be swayed by apparent friendliness.

"I did," the woman nodded. "Dame Hannah is very proud of you. With such a unique and interesting area of study, it must be very hard for her not to be. And the Alethiometer is such a difficult discipline..."

Lyra was an experienced liar (though not as much as she had been as a child), but she did not need to be to see through that. The demeanour of this woman indicated that she did not lie very often, and if she did, it was only the tiniest white lie, which she would later regret forever. Besides, Dame Hannah would never have told her about the Alethiometer. It was too dangerous to let people know – they were incredibly valuable to collectors, being that there were only six of them in the world.

She exchanged a brief look with her daemon, before deciding that they had listened to enough. Besides, it was almost time to head back to Jordan College, and she did not want to be caught in the snow for too much longer.

"You're lying," Lyra declared, and continued as the woman looked hurt. "Dame Hannah would never tell anyone about the Alethiometer...and she couldn't have told you I was here. I didn't even plan on coming in here till I passed the gardens on my way back."

She lifted her jaw firmly, as she realised from the expression on the young woman's face, that she was indeed spot on with her accusations. "What do you want from me?"

Two patches of pink appeared on the woman's fine cheekbones, and she looked ashamed of herself. "Forgive me... you are right. I was lying... I hate doing it, but I thought it was the only way."

She fixed the full power of her gaze on Lyra. "I need your help Lyra... I need you to use the Alethiometer for me."

Questions were racing around Lyra's mind, but she did not ask any of them. She corrected the woman first. "I can't read it. I'm still just learning."

Desperately, the woman touched her shoulder. "I have a gift that allows me to grace people with power temporarily. I can give you the ability to use it again, just this once..." she looked at her beseechingly. "As long as you help me. Please?"

This statement evaporated the questions in Lyra's mind, replacing them instead with the promise that the woman had just given. She could give her the power to read the Alethiometer, just once more? Could she really do that? How? And more importantly... if she did, Lyra thought to herself, would she let her use it for one more question... one she had wanted to ask for a long time...

"Hero contemplates helping the Sue? That's my cue."

The two humans, and two daemons whirled toward the gates of the garden, to find the Society leader, shivering in her borrowed trenchcoat, along with an equally grumpy looking cat daemon next to her.

"I hate winter... so much," Tash grumbled, shaking snow out of her hair, and wishing she had brought her hat with her. "Anyway, under the authority of the Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society, I'm placing you under arrest..."

The Sue got to her feet fast. "You found me already... and from your age, you must be a leader..."

"Don't interrupt my arresting speech!" Tash spluttered, going pink in the cheeks (though whether this was from anger or cold was debatable). "Anyway, you're under arrest for manipulating this fandom, trying to give Sue powers to a canon character in order to meet your own needs, for making the Society computers go haywire, giving us all a headache, making Harriet miss part of the cricket..."

She paused to think. "And I think that's about it. You would have the right to parole, but you caught me on a really bad day..."

"...and from the fact you have not stopped talking since entering the gardens," the Sue concluded. "You must be Tash."

"What of it?" the leader huffed, and the Sue looked at her curiously.

"From what my sources told me, you've been locked away from the public eye for the better part of the last few weeks..." she sighed a little. "Hardly surprising though given the circumstances. You feel so lost without him..."

She was forced to stop as Tash flashstepped to her side, Nephthys in her grasp against the Sue's throat. To the leader's surprise however, the Sue vanished and reappeared five meters away just as quickly.

"Don't you dare pretend you have any clue!" Tash hissed and brought her sword up between her and the Sue. "I can see the way you're looking, pretending you understand, but you don't have any idea!"

"You're so frightened," the Sue continued. "Of facing a world without him. The prospect that you might have to go the rest of your life alone...and you're terrified of me. I can see it. Because I'm saying everything that you have not had the bravery to say...because I see right into your heart and see all the things you refuse to think about."

Her eyes flicked toward Sati and then back at the leader. "He was so strong and powerful, you thought he would always be there, always protect and love you...but then he died. And you can't imagine life without want to die and be with him, but you're afraid to and you hate yourself for it... you don't know how to handle your new responsibilities and you're afraid you'll let everyone down... of failing yourself, of failing him... You can't even really handle that traumatising event in your past – though you don't tell anyone about that..."

Tash lashed out with Nephthys, striking a blow for the Sue's head, but once more, the Sue was gone before her sword could meet its target. She appeared again just behind the garden gates. Sati gave a hiss at the dove, which had fluttered into a tree above the Sue's head, but she was reluctant to go too far from Tash when Lyra was watching, wide eyed from the bench.

"I know what you're trying to do," the leader struggled to keep her voice calm. "Mind games, and asking the canon characters for help. For a Mary-Sue, you're a bit pathetic to be honest. What kind of Sue asks a character for help?"

The Sue flinched. "One who needs to find someone...

Tash frowned. "What do you mean?"

The Sue did not give an answer, and instead waved a hand, causing a plothole to appear behind her. Cursing, the leader raced for it, but it had sealed up again before she could reach it.

"What was that?" Lyra demanded, as soon as the Sue was gone. Tash rounded on the canon character. Every inch of her screamed that she was angry.

"What did she want you to do?" she asked. A stubborn expression appeared on Lyra's face.

"Why should I tell you?"

"Because that woman is dangerous and I need to find her!" Tash snapped impatiently. "Tell me what she wanted!"

Her attitude did not endear her to the young woman, and Lyra looked pointedly at Nephthys, still clutched in Tash's hand.

"If she's dangerous, why are you the one holding a sword?" she asked, but she clearly did not expect an answer, as she turned and left the gardens, Pantalamion leaping to her shoulder as they disappeared into the snow, leaving a confused and highly distraught leader behind.


In the monitor room, Ossa let out a low whistle.

"Bloody hell..."

Despite the fact that they had all seen the Sue activate a localised plothole on the monitors, no one was making any attempt to trace the location. Harriet was completely ignoring the cricket on one of the smaller monitors, her attention completely focused on the events in the fandom.

"She knew way too much to be just your average, garden variety Sue..." the leader muttered. "There's something really wrong about..." she frowned. "What did she say her name was?"

"She didn't..." Jess filled in. "She hasn't given it yet, and she hasn't been in the fandom long enough to tell it to anyone...except Dame Hannah obviously, but there's no time to go there and find it."

They turned their heads just in time to hear Tash's Plot Summary lock onto the Sue, and the leader, exit into a quickly generated plothole with a stony expression on her face.


It was bitterly ironic, Tash thought, that the Sue would hop to Will's world in escape, when the city the male protagonist of this fandom happened to live in, was the very city in which she was at university in real life.

She and Sati had popped out of the plothole in the basement of the Royal Oak pub, however there was no sign of the Sue. Fortunately the basement was empty of customers, else she knew she would have had a really difficult job explaining where she had her cat familiar had appeared from (though the fact that the basement was haunted might have done a good job of covering it up).

"Damn, that Sue is fast," Tash muttered, checking her Plot Summary for any traces of her. "Well she can't have gone far..."

Her hand was trembling and she clenched her fist tightly until it was stable enough for her to continue.

"No signal in this basement...we'd better get above ground in case the Society need to communicate..."

Sati knew she was talking to herself, rather than to her, and a frown crossed her face as she looked closely at her human, before marching to the foot of the stairs, and sitting herself firmly down. Tash looked up from her Plot Summary, and gave her daemon a long look.

"We're not staying here," She snapped.

"Until you talk to me properly, we are," the cat stated. Tash's arms fell to her side, with a heavy sigh.

"Don't make this difficult Sati."

"Me?" A mirthless laughter caused the human to shiver. "I'm not the one who's a walking wreck."

It was satisfying to see that she could still stun her human into silence, and make her eyes widen like that.

"Yeah, you heard me," Sati repeated more firmly. "You're a wreck."

"You're helping the Sue get away," Tash insisted, and Sati rolled her eyes.

"And now you're making excuses to avoid the problem! You call the Sue pathetic, but you're just as bad! Look at yourself Tash! You have no control over your emotions. You're not even trying to catch the Sue, because you're feeling so damn sorry for yourself! You're so anxious about the possibility of failing everyone that you're shaking. And you're being a total coward about Adrian!"

Her human's shaking was getting worse, but Sati didn't care. She just ploughed on. "You mope for weeks over it! You lash out at anyone who comes near you! Every time you think about him you push it aside because you're terrified of hurting more!"

"Shut up!" for once, the leader did not sound angry. In fact, her tone was bordering on terror.

"You can't even say it!" Sati cried. "He's dead, Tash! Dead and not coming back! But you can't accept it because you're too much of a coward to even try living without him! Well, he's not going to come back just because you wish it so!"

"Stop!" The Plot Summary clattered against the stone floor, and the leader's energy seemed to drain out of her. "Stop it!" she begged, her hands pressed hard against her eyes as though that would hold back the tears. "Just stop it!" I can't... I..."

The shaking seemed to have killed off her voice, and Sati marched to her human's side, and butted her legs gently with her head. That was all the encouragement Tash needed to fall to her knees and curl up into a tight ball of misery.


"Any trace of her?" Harriet demanded, having gone back to watching the cricket just in case something interesting had happened. Ossa turned to look.

"What, of Tash, or the Sue?"


"Oh, no sign of the Sue," Ossa stated. "Tash is in the basement of some pub. There's no signal down there though, so we can't get a visual of her, or even call her."

Given the amount of irony surrounding the Society, Harriet could take a very well educated guess as to the pub, and she frowned.

"Actually that's not true. Tesco mobile phones get a signal down there. So we should be able to too."

Ossa shrugged. "I'm sure the author must have a reason for not wanting us to see down there."

As if in agreement, the Fourth Wall rumbled quietly.


"Feeling any better?"

The leader shook her head. "Not really..."

"I knew you'd say that... you stupid girl."

Tash gave a weak chuckle. "You were right though... you always are. And all this emoness has probably upped my Sueish factor by a million too..."

Now it was Sati's turn to laugh. "May I suggest a holiday?"

There was a brief silence, as the leader contemplated this. "Actually...that's not a bad would be nice for you to get out of your fanfic for a bit too..."

She was cut off by Sati snorting in laughter. "Tash, you can't get me out of my fanfic, because I'm a familiar that comes from your soul - it's how I exist in this fandom. But because I'm from your soul, I don't exist anywhere else. I'm you, in a sense."

"...I've got to leave you?" Five minutes ago the thought had not even crossed her mind, but now, Tash realised, she did not want the cat to go.

Sati shrugged. " need to reseal me in the fanfic. You know what will happen if you don't. You'll get worse. And that's the last thing I want."

The Plot Summary chose this uncomfortable moment to beep loudly, indicating the presence of, not only the Sue, but a main character nearby. Tash looked at it, but made no move to pick it up, and Sati headbutted her hand.

"You know you have to do it... its for the best."

"...I hate doing the right thing sometimes," Tash muttered, seizing the Plot Summary, her eyes going wide.



It had been a stroke of luck (or divine providence, as she was insisting to herself) that the mystery Sue had caught sight of Will Parry just leaving the supermarket. But before she could step from the side street and glide effortlessly over to him, a voice spoke from behind her.

"What, you can't get Lyra to agree, so you're going to bribe her with Will? You're really not following the usual Mary-Sue traits of this fandom."

The Sue was getting tired of these constant interruptions, and with a brief nod, her daemon appeared from the roof above her, and glared down at Sati. Tash frowned in confusion, before her face went slack in disbelief.

"Oh please!" she snorted, before pointing at the dove, and then to her own daemon. " Are you really that stupid?"

Sati surprised them all by bursting into laughter. "You are such a hypocrite!"

And with that word, she pounced.

Or at least, she tried too. The dove daemon was apparently just as fast as her human, vanishing in the blink of an eye and reappearing on her shoulder, leaving Sati to crash painfully into the cobbles. Tash winced as the ache rippled back into her own skull.

"One last chance," she stated, trying not to sound as though that had hurt. "Come quietly, and you go on parole..."

"I can't," the woman's eyes filled with tears. "I must find him, and you shall not stop me..." Her eyes went wide suddenly and she pointed over Tash's shoulder. "Distraction!" she cried in her melancholic voice, and Tash and her familiar snapped their heads around.

" that's the statue of King Alfred, not a distra... damn it!" Tash screamed, turning her head just in time to see white tail feathers vanish into a plothole. "I can't believe I fell for that... again!"

"I can't believe you called her stupid, after you made the same bird–cat mistake when you met me," Sati muttered. "You certainly haven't got much smarter in the last four years..."

Tash sighed, as the Plot Summary helpfully informed her that the plothole had been non local. The Sue had vanished to another fandom... or wherever Mary-Sues went in their downtime.

"Guess I'd better get back..." the leader muttered, turning and looking hopefully at her daemon. Sati shook her head.

"Yes you had. And no, I really can't go with you. My work for this story, is done."

She smiled at the human. "When you see Jenny and Kiara, tell them Bandit and Kait send their love."

The leader remained expressionless... and then, with a sigh, she smiled. "Sure."


Unbeknownst to many of the Society's residents, Phoenixia was quite the gardener and so one entire room of the Library was dedicated to her garden. It was filled with roses and daisies and tulips and flowers of every kind and shape and size and even a few trees. Walking into it was like walking into a jungle and one would wonder if they had stepped through a plothole instead of a doorway.

It was in this place that Tash found Phoenixia, the busty woman dressed in pair of overalls and a wide-brimmed hat, strolling among the roses and giving them a few sprinkles of water with the watering can she held, humming quietly to herself.

"Wow... there are so many of these flowers..." Tash murmured as she wandered over to the hologram and staring out at the rainbow of roses laid out along the trays in front of her. "Did you really grow all of these?"

"Sure did." Phoenixia flipped a length of her green hair over her shoulder and smiled. "With hundreds of years worth of free time, there's not a ton to do, but I love growing some challenging plants...I've got orchids of all types and shapes and some rare, delicate trees that aren't supposed to be transplantable... even a rare Black Hole Orchid that only blooms once every thousand years and it's only two years till the date!" She grinned happily at the thought. "And with all the travel Librarians and Counter Guardians do, Adrian is always getting me new ones..."

Her voice trailed off as she saw Tash flinch heavily and her face softened. "What's wrong, Tash...?"

"Oh Phoenixia... I don't know what to do anymore." Tash said, looking nervous and doubtful as she played with the cuff of the trenchcoat. "Adrian's gone...and I'm the Librarian now, but I can't do that and be Chief Agent, I don't have the experience he did and now I've got a request to go and negotiate for this Tome of Ur-Back at some interdimensional conference and I don't even speak the language, let alone know how to negotiate..." She looked at the older woman with a pleading/hopeful look on her face. "He always said you were his best advisor... can you advise me?"

Phoenixia smiled gently at her and then turned to tend to her roses. "If you can't handle that burden by yourself, Tash, then why not split the burden? You are a Librarian – that's a job enough for anyone. So get an older Agent to be Chief Agent – Adrian mentioned you guys were talking about Michael taking over Lauren's paperwork, so why not him? It'd be a big boost to his confidence and a big load off your shoulders... everyone wins."

Tash nodded. She had already more or less settled on that course of action, but hearing it being confirmed by someone else made her feel better. "Phoenixia... how do you do it? He's... dead –" She nearly choked out the word. "– and you're so strong, to be able to go one like you"

"You know, a very familiar kitten asked me something like that a long time ago, when someone he loved died..." The green-haired gardener let her hands wander over the roses before grabbing a blue one and gently breaking the stem off and hand it to Tash." And I'm going to tell you the same thing I told him."

"What's that..?" Tash took the rose and sniffed it gently, smiling a bit at the sweet scent.

"Love is a flower you plant in the soil of your heart. And if you take care of your heart and have good soil, then that flower will grow and sprout into something beautiful and it will last forever... but if you don't take care of your heart, the flower will grow twisted and frail and rot..." She smiled gently. "And even if the person who gave you that seed for the flower of love is gone, then as long as you tend the soil of your heart, that flower will always bloom, no matter what."

Tash nodded slowly and stared at the flower in her hands. "I know what to do, then..."


"Thanks for coming guys."

Harriet, Michael and the Counter Guardian Aramayis, stood in the office that had once been Adrian's, facing the new Librarian, who was sitting on the desk, fidgeting nervously. Finally she decided to just come right out with it.

"I'm going home, for a week... if that's alright. I need to see a few people who can maybe help me get over... well... get over his death."

Harriet might have protested that Tash had had several weeks now to get over this, but she knew that a whole lifetime wouldn't really be enough. And running a Society with a leader who's heart was not truly in it was neigh on impossible. More than that though, a week with no Society to worry about, might bring a smile back to her face, and as her friend, Harriet wanted that badly.

"Sure Tash. We can handle things, can't we guys?"

The tone in her voice stated very clearly that if the two men had any objections, tough luck for them. She was not going to give them a chance to voice them. But it seemed neither of them did. Michael however, did have a question.

"Not that I'm disagreeing," he stated. "But why did you want me here to approve this?"

The two leaders exchanged looks, before Harriet spoke up. "Well, Tash and I have been talking, and we've decided we need a third leader since Lauren ran away to the Canaries, and since one of the leaders now has to be a Librarian too."

"You're the highest ranking agent in the Society who isn't a leader," Tash explained. "And more than that, you've been here since the start. You're our first choice."

Rather than be stunned speechless, Michael's forehead was creasing into a frown.

"Have you really thought this through?" he asked. "I mean, there are other agents who would make way better leaders. I'm just-"

"Don't you start!" Tash interrupted in a sharp voice. "Don't you dare give me any of your "I'm just a grunt" crap. You're more than worthy of the job. People look up to you, even if you don't damn well realise it – good Gods Michael, I look up to you, and you're younger than me! Even before..." she paused to collect herself before continuing. "Even before the war, we were considering offering you the position anyway. We need someone to help share Lauren's paperwork."

She drew a deep breath. "Now we need you to help more. I need you to help more. But not just because we've got too much paperwork, or because things are more dangerous. Because I want you at my side when things go to hell again... and they will go to hell."

Now was the moment when Michael was stunned into silence.

"You don't have to say yes," Harriet assured him. "But, to be honest, we'd like you to say yes."

The moment seemed to drag on and on, the anticipation building with each second. Until finally, Michael raised his head, and nodded.

"Yes. I'll do it."

Harriet smiled widely. "Great! I'll use this week to train you up, and Tash can have a nice rest back in Real Life. And Aramayis you can... do Counter Guardian stuff, I guess."

The man merely smiled at her. "Of course."

"You really sure about this, guys?" Michael's face held a hint of a smile. "After all, you know what my first decree as a leader shall be..."

Everyone looked curiously at the newly appointed leader of the Society, and Michael gave a fully fledged grin, before striking a dramatic pose.

"From this moment, all female agents will be required to wear... TINY MINISKIRTS!"

There was a brief silence. Harriet was blinking very slowly at Michael as though she were having trouble seeing him (or perhaps she was imagining trying to do missions in said miniskirt). Aramayis merely looked amused. And Tash looked torn between sweatdropping or bursting into laughter...

...and ever so slowly, the laughter won out.

"Michael, Roy Mustang, you are most definitely not," Harriet informed, him, before checking her watch, screaming loudly in alarm, and legging it out of the room.

"I'm missing the cricket!"


The phone was purring in her ears, and she mentally begged her friend to pick up soon.


"Hi Jen."

Her voice was a little better this time. Less shaky.

"Hi Tash. You okay?"

" I'm really not..." She drew a deep breath to steady herself. "I'm coming home for a bit...are you and Kiara doing anything tonight?"

"Umm... we were going to watch anime at mine. You're welcome to join us." It was hard for Jenny to keep the enthusiasm out of her voice.

"I think I will...something bad happened Jen," the tears were reappearing, and this time she let them run down her cheeks. "Really bad... I need you, and Kiara. If you can't help me... I don't think anyone can."

"Of course. We'll see you tonight then? Seven thirty?"

"Definitely..." she remembered something and quickly added. "I've got a message for you two as well... from a few old friends..."

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