Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Insert Ludicrous Cyberpunk AI Here

"Her first mission, eh?"

"I think she'll do excellent. What's the issue?"

"Ya really think a couple of mere geeks would be any good?"

"Michael! Honestly. If we're not geeks ourselves then what are we? Silly."

Michael grinned, fully enjoying acting as a foil to the new Librarian.

"Besides," Tash continued swiftly, " – WARGS have always been our supporters back in the real world. Anyone we can count on in emergencies – and they're almost a feeder group to us. Dave's a WARG and he's a full-fledged agent!"

"Exactly. So, back to Alice?"

"Alice? Yeah." Tash swivelled round and checked the monitor behind her, a recent alert detailed on its screen. "The fandom is Warhammer 40k. We were lucky to pick anything up here; the world is galaxy-spanning, bloody huge. You know it?"

Michael thought for a moment, then shook his head. "Sounds nasty."

"I wouldn't know. Unfortunately I don't know every single…"

He recognised those signs easily. "Anyway, Tash: Alice, 40k. Is she up to it?"

"I had a look, and the fandom was on the list she gave us when she signed up. It's one she knows. And it's a low-level Stu. She'll be fine."

"She may be fine, but there is an issue, Tash," he said, his hand slapping the desk. "You and I have both reviewed the rookies' training missions, and I know you noticed the ghost problem Alice found in fandoms. I will talk with her later about it, but I want to know if you are confident with sending her in."

"I'm confident, she's enthusiastic, and she's far from being the only agent with 'issues', Michael. Let's get to the Briefing Room…"

"This means I'm going to get glomped again, doesn't it?" Michael sighed.

"What? Having one's ribs crushed on a daily basis does tend to endear one eventually."


The Leader and the Librarian met with the new agent to give her the mission. Alice was of normal height and a-bit-more-than-normal weight, light brown hair to her shoulderblades worn back with a hairband and wore glasses. She wrapped her arms around Tash's thin waist and lifted her off her feet in a greeting hug, much to the Librarian's squeaks, then turned to Michael and did likewise, only without lifting him off the ground. There was nothing more to Alice's hugs than a friendly gesture, if a bone-crushing one, although it had taken Michael and others some time to realise it.

The mission was given, and accepted gladly, Alice practically jumping for joy and having to be shushed from spilling off into the ether about her enjoyment of the fandom so that Tash could give her the specifics. Alice pulled out her ubiquitous notebook for the briefing, and left to prepare carrying the purple-labelled cardboard box full of gadgets.

Michael followed her into the corridor. "Allie, d'ya mind if you and I can have a quick chat?"

"Sure! I want to go and sort stuff for going into 40k, though. I've got some old stuff jotted down in my notebook and I need to go and read through them before I go."

"You do like your preparations, don't you…" he said, shaking his head.

"'Course I do! You know how the old adage goes, be prepared. Though I think I get distracted too much and start reading up on stuff that's only barely relevant, but it's still interesting all the same…"


"…'cause yassee I was doing some research last night and if you look at the etymology of 'Sue' you'll eventually get back to Hebrew where it meant 'Rose'…"

The English student had a tendency to waffle at times.


"Eep. Sorry."

Michael rolled his eyes and grinned, but the smile dropped almost immediately. "Look, Alice. I've seen the footage of what you discovered during your training mission. It's a point of pressing concern for me."

"Oh, that."

On her training mission, Alice had performed about average but for a funny, interesting, and then mildly worrying quirk. Every so often her expression would twist and glare solidly into midair, and even on some occasions turn around and holler at the said air to shut up. Once when there were minor canon characters around too. This behaviour was explained by Alice when she had returned.

"It's a Sue, one of yours," he said, watching her face fall.

"I chopped aspects of her into little bits and sowed her far and wide. I'd hoped she was gone. Evidently not…"

"She still exists as the first generation of whatever you managed to salvage from her creation. It's now a ghost-Sue, kinda, who haunts you around. She's there in real life at the back of your mind, or not even that – but in a fandom where they have more power, she becomes visible."

"And audible."

"Yeah. But only to you. Which I appreciate is an irritant, but this may end up being more than just that."

"I can't do the Vault of Abandoned Ideas. It's not how I work – so when I got sick of this pandering, I took out all the good bits and distributed them around several other original-fiction stories…so the Sue is dead, ish, dissected and ghosty – but still she follows me around!" Alice sighed, knowing that few knew about this issue. "It's embarrassing."

"Don't be ashamed. The moment they sense weakness in you they'll pounce. Believe me, they'll take whatever chance they can. I know what it's like to have that second voice in your head."

She gulped quietly. "I can do this."

"Why don't you take someone with you? They can keep you from getting distracted."


"She fell headfirst into custard on her training mission… ya sure?"

"'Course I'm sure. I trust her, and she's one of the few people on my entire life who likes my weirdness. I've tried to tell her some things about 40k – well, mainly 30k, but that's the Horus Heresy and I hope to hell I ain't going there – so she's not completely in the dark. Plus if I can go in the guise I'm hoping for, I might need a friend…"

Michael nodded, somewhat subdued, and not being truly able to say what he really needed to say. At least the rookie was enthusiastic, bouncy and researched enough to probably succeed, which helped somewhat; must be all the bruised ribs. "If you think you need a disguise; well the Library has a three-storey wardrobe you could pick from. Although – I think the Automatic Tailorisation machine was fixed the other week – so give it a try."

"The whatty-wha?"

"Try it. It's awesome. Anyway I ought to be off; things to see, people to do – hang on, scratch that, reverse it…"

Alice laughed. "All right. Thanks for the advice. Give Claire my love."

"Will do. She sends her good luck."


"It's a little ostentatious, don't you think?"

Dave watched Alice fix the cloak around her neck in front of the mirror, the Automatic Tailorisation machine chugging in the corner before shutting off. The machine was a fun discovery on the unisex floor of the costume cupboard, hidden behind a curtain and initially broken but now back to full use, though so far few agents had given it a try beyond a bit of fun. The brass box-like control-festooned machine looked straight from Steampunk, and the user would push buttons and move levers and wheels before stepping inside the machine, a brightly-lit space about the size of a photo booth, to allow the machine to effectively sew the chosen clothes around them. Where the machine got its sources of fine cloth, thread, trimming and fasteners was anybody's guess, and several had made lewd jokes about 'defabrication' and whatnot. Now Alice, with a book of the Imperial Inquisition at her side, had designed herself an incognito disguise.

Dave thought she'd gone a little far.

"It's not that bad, is it? Fits like a dream, too."

"Well, yeah, no, it's not bad, but it's a little… flashy? The cape's nice and all, but the skirt's to the ankles, and the breastplate? And that… thing that hangs down?"

"Considering, Dave, that this – " Alice said, handing him the open book, " – is what they expected female Inquisitors to wear…"

"Gaaah!" exclaimed Dave. 'This' was a rather atrocious suit of too-ornate black plate armour, wrapped with linen and ribboned with red, the woman armed with far too much and topped off with a white beehive. "Yes, fine, God that's hideous."

Alice grinned at his response. Compared to the picture her dress was simple. The cloak was pale blue and plain except for a thin gold trim, the skirt dark blue. The breastplate was a brushed silver with faint scrollwork on the joins, fastened by a white belt. The 'thing that hangs down' was an arrowhead of fabric that came from the belt to hang down half of the skirt and was the same colour as the cloak only marked with Inquisitorial symbols in gold and white. A few more trims of pearl, more 'I' icons and arm coverings and the costume was complete. Dave was right, it was far too ostentatious for home, but even though she wore blue and silver when most of the pictures used black and red, it was plain enough to bear and looked adequate enough for fitting in. And she loved cloaks.

Alice lifted the last piece of her disguise and belted it on: her short sword, again plain and unadorned but well-used. It was her weapon of choice; not exactly a master with it but knowing and trained enough for her skill to be somewhat reliable. Dave gave her a nod. "Good luck on your mission, Alice. Sorry, but I'd better toddle off, FYP and all that…"

After a big hug he was off, passing a short woman with dark brown hair entering the room. Alice smiled widely. "Louise! You're alive!"

"Am I?" said Louise, her usual return.

Alice and Louise were housemates, friends from university, members of the gaming group who now had close links to the Society. Following in Dave's stead, they had handed their applications to join in to Adrian himself, then heard nothing back for several months…meanwhile the Society itself endured the war which followed, and only once they had stabilised enough to consider following the applications were the pair called in by Tash to sit the entrance exams, to everyone's great amusement. Now, after only a semi-disastrous test mission, Alice had her first real assignment and had requested that her best mate join her.

"Wow," Louise said. "You mentioned something about disguises but I didn't think to this extent! …What am I wearing? I can go and get my long skirt if you want."

"Nope! Lemme get the Tailorisation thingy going again, 'cause you're going to be my Interrogator and you need to be 40k-i-fied too. I've got most of our kit, soooo… yet again, we're waiting for you – so strip to the underwear and get in the machine!"

"All right, all right…"


"God the skies here are even worse than underneath Eyjafjallajökull…" mumbled Louise as the two walked up the snowy and dirty path that led to the higher entrance of a gigantic hive city. The sky above them was liberally coated with thick, greasy-looking dark clouds, didn't smell too good, and the wasteland below was totally devoid of any other soul.

"Welcome to 40k and it's God-awful welfare schemes," said Alice, testing out a set of silver-rimmed goggles that she had found coming with her outfit. She wondered whether the Tech labs should go up and have a look at that machine in the costume cupboard – it had interesting surprises. "These are pretty nice. Some kind of -punk, not sure whether it's steam- or cyber- or both… ooh, is that night-vision? Ow the sun hurts!"

"Lemme see that," said Louise. "Night vision, infrared, magnification, zoom, X-ray, blue filter, dunno, sparkle-O-vision…" She jerked the goggles away from her eyes, saw Alice laughing, and threw them back at her.

"Come along, composure! Dignity! You are a servant of the Emperor!" giggled Alice, placing the goggles on her head and struggling to regain her own as they approached the entrance.

It was a very large entrance that towered above them for at least ten times their height and festooned with gribbly gothic architecture. Armed guards and living gun platforms protected the door into the higher tiers of the hive.

"What am I again?" whispered Louise.

"Interrogator. Think apprentice Inquisitor. Just that should be enough to get us in."

Alice then stopped on the path, allowing Louise to walk on for another several yards. She turned, and saw her friend glaring into space, her fists clenched.


"I'm OKAY!"

"Just asking, jeez!"

They were permitted entry with little trouble at all. A couple of people who looked very frustrated were still engaged in arguing with the guards, and they even saw one being dragged away to some lower level. There was a gangway to cross before they could reach the main part of the upper hive, and down below they could both see the lower levels, reaching down into the depths and looking murkier the further it went. Giant fans blew just below the gangway to eradicate the stench which still existed, if barely, and tiny figures could just be seen trudging their way around what both of them loathed to call a daily life.

"It appears this section is the affluent rather than the effluent… murmured Alice.

"Shirley will hit you whether you use a thesaurus or not, Alice," replied Louise.

Alice didn't answer, as over the gangplank she could see what dogged her. Ignored in real life, brought uncomfortably back in her training mission, warned about by the Leader and now full of constant mirth at her predicament, was Misty, the dissected Mary-Sue of Alice's literary past. She was a ghost, literally; made out in shades of pale blue-grey and hair vanishing off like clouds, she hovered in the empty space; and when she spoke, only Alice could hear her.

~ You are so funny! Really, hilarious! What are you doing here, what a waste of time, all dirty and gritty. No-one can find anyone here, let alone you, so why are you even bothering? Go home to your cocoa. ~


Alice's shout echoed considerably over the thoroughfare and down the void. Everyone stopped at the shout, including some of the ants down below.

Louise, red-faced, yanked her friend away from the rail and into the levels proper.

~ Tee hee hee! ~


"Alice, what…?"

"Don't ask."

"No, seriously. What?"

"Louise! Please."


"Okay! Sorry. It's just a problem. I'll sort it out."

The two agents traipsed quietly through the halls and galleries of the upper tier, their enthusiasm somewhat dampened. Their surroundings were opulent enough, full of gilding and statues and LCD screens full of programmes proclaiming their love for the Emperor. The latter caught their attention for a few minutes, but soon became rather boring, though the patterned silver borders were amusing to watch as they changed and shifted. Their plan, what little there was of it, was to wait in the large public areas for the Stu, what little they knew about him, to show up; they always did sooner or later.

A faint heavy marching sound echoed over from the far side of the square in which they chose to flop. Looking over, they saw a column of dark blue armoured giants crossing the ground in perfect lockstep. Their enormous bolters were held at rest, but they could be brought to bear in less than a second.

"Space Marines?" asked Louise, seeing the wide-eyed grin on Alice's face.

"Oh yes. Crimson Fists," she said, recognising the red fist livery on the giant shoulder pads.

"We're not going to see Sanguinius or anyone like that, are we?"

"The Primarchs are long dead. Now they're canon Mary-Sues if ever I saw them. Super Space Marines! No, no Primarch for me…" Alice sighed comically; she had a mild infatuation with a few of the Space Marine primogenitors.

The two wove closer, Louise having to stop Alice from getting giddy with excitement and even dope-slapping her when she whispered something about glomping one of them.

Then from behind them came a male, haughty and totally indignant voice.

"You two have been following me all over! I demand you explain."

They turned, and were faced with a short man in a red-yellow-blue and white jumpsuit, thick luscious black hair and eyes that changed colour every few seconds, like a set of traffic lights.

"I know who you are. You're those damned spoilsports who delight in ruining everyone's fun! Well you aren't invading my territory, that's for sure!" He ran a gloved hands through his liquorice locks, causing many of the sparse passers-by to stop and stare in adoration. Alice and Louise merely exchanged glances.

"Hello, Stu," said Alice sarcastically.

"Stu? How dare you! My name is McLaren Mercedes TVR Lexus-Lotus Corvette Ferrari the Fifteenth! And I am your lord and master!"

"Bollocks you are!" said Louise, through giggles.

McLaren was clearly annoyed at the laughter, and marched forwards, his eyes flashing red. Alice whisked back her cloak and drew her short sword, and Louise sighted down the laspistol attached to her outfit.

"Want to carry on, or shall we go back quietly?" Alice said, both of them reaching for a Prohibitor.

"Eep." McLaren jumped to the side, and ducked through a fountain. The two agents gave chase, not hearing the shouts from the other side – and they ran into a wall of navy and crimson.

"Ah, Space Marines – "

Louise managed to skid to a halt, but Alice tripped and placed an outstretched hand on the closest Space Marine's massive breastplate. The frightening helm tilted in derision and his hand came up, gripped her sword blade tightly, and with but a twitch snapped it from the hilt.


Alice back-pedalled, bumping into Louise and knocking them both to the floor, shoving what was left of the trusty weapon back in its sheath by rote. "Okay, look, sorry guys, we didn't mean to bump into you – ow! Louise?"

"You're on my foot!"

"Sorry! I mean, uh, did you see the – "

She cut off abruptly as the entire squad, some eleven Space Marines with a helmet-less Sergeant and a lighter blue-painted Librarian – yes, she reminded herself, Librarian was a Space Marine rank, one with extremely powerful psychic abilities – in the lead drew their bolters and pointed them at the two women.

"This is NOT how I wanted my first meeting with Space Marines to go!" squeaked Alice, near-paralysed with fright from being faced with thirteen gaping maws. "Please, gentlemen, we're…"

Then, to the girls' horror, McLaren stepped out from behind the Librarian.

"It's the Stu…" whispered Louise.

"Hello, agents," said the smug little brat. "The tables have turned now, eh? The Crimson Fists are my friends… and they know all about you."

The Sergeant nodded.

"I think I should kill you. It disgusts me how they dare to send rookies after me. I find it rather amusing, actually…"

"You – you wouldn't."

"Oh?" Half the Marines took a step forwards, cutting off any lateral escapes. "I think it would be a great victory."

The Librarian frowned at his words and lowered his weapon, glancing to the small man behind him in puzzlement.

"McLaren, isn't it?" said Alice. "Look, McLaren, please, listen. Listen to me carefully. You don't need to do this. Death is never a good thing, huh, is it? We're not trying to kill you, or your associates, far from it; we're trying to help you. We don't want you dead, that's not how we work. Please, just think about what you're – "

"No! I don't need you to tell me what to think!"

"Why should we not just take them to the relevant authorities and let them deal with these two?" said the Librarian.

McLaren coloured at the protest.

Alice thought she could see the way out.

~ Ruuuubish! ~

Alice twitched visibly; Louise grabbed on to her to keep her from doing anything stupid. "We're here from the Inquisition, on a special mission, and our objective is – " She tried to tilt her head towards the Stu.

"They are lying," said McLaren.

"Please. Don't let him win."

The Librarian blinked, and gave the most miniscule of nods. But McLaren was having none of it.

"I've had enough! You are traitors and liars! I'm fed up of hearing your voices."

McLaren turned to the Librarian, placing a hand on his bolter arm.




"Natasha THINK! Those are .75 calibre weapons – "


"They're not firing! They've stopped for something – "

"If this DOES turn into a firefight, you sending more agents in at this point is just going to get their heads blown off!"

Five or six agents were struggling to keep Tash in her seat and prevent her from jumping into 40k herself. The Librarian had drawn on the same strength that allowed mothers to lift fallen trees off their children, and keeping her from entering the horribly tense situation was getting tougher by the moment.

"Alice is getting through to him. You need to give her a chance!"

"But – "

"Tash! Look at the scene, you could ruin it – "


Someone – nobody could pinpoint who – screamed into the fray, and in the pause that lasted for about five yoctoseconds they all heard one word said by the Crimson Fist Librarian.

Some did not register it for several more moments of struggling, several now sporting singed hair and colouring eyes.

"Tash, please – "

She relaxed at last after studying the scene. "Michael, get in there and bring them back."



The Space Marine Librarian's electrifying word froze the entire scene.

"What?" said McLaren incredulously.

"No. This isn't right."

"I order you to shoot them! Now! Don't fuss about wondering whether it's right or not!"

The Librarian turned to the Stu, glared at him and flicked his ear. With a suit of power armour and the strength of a psyker Space Marine, the clip round the ear sent him spinning on the ground.

"We shall take them before a real Inquisitor. He shall decide their fate. I will not have the Holy Ordos come down on my Chapter because of a mistaken summary execution."

"I – "

The Librarian nodded, and the bolters were lifted. Some Space Marines stepped forwards and helped the two women to their feet; surprisingly gentle despite the above emphasis that saw the Stu on his arse.

"Come, Lord Ferrari."

McLaren made a noise that sounded like a strangled owl, and the girls fought down giggles even through their trepidation. These stopped as the Space Marines loomed, and they swallowed their laughter at once.

~ Oh Alice… you're failing again… ~

The Stu's consistent whining caused the Crimson Fists to form a very solid guard around the two hapless women, escorting them to the large gothic palace set into the walls of the upper tier. They were shepherded through level after level of tight security, eventually leaving the two agents with the Librarian – and allowing the Stu to reclaim the Crimson Fist squad without the moderation of their senior member. They watched as McLaren looked over his shoulder and blew raspberries at them as the heavy blast doors closed behind them.

They stopped outside an office door, the Librarian showed them in. There was a figure in this office; a brown-robed unassuming man with a small red Inquisitorial rosette on a chain.

"Lord Ario Barzano?"

Louise glanced at Alice as recognition washed over her face.

"Yes, Librarian?" he said, his voice pleasant and just as unassuming; also sounding unconcerned and out-of-the-loop. Neither agents were fooled.

"I have brought these two to be questioned. They maintain they are Inquisitors like yourself but Lord Ferrari thought otherwise. I thought to seek a third opinion."

"Ah, yes. Thank you Librarian. Would you leave us?"

He nodded and left.

Through the massive setting of this fandom, few characters were repeating and those that did remained on their planets. Those of the Inquisition were not like this; they could be posted hither and thither across an entire galaxy, used as the hundreds of authors needed. Knowing and using these little quirks of this universe was vital for survival here. Alice liked the Ultramarines Chapter of Space Marines; in reading the books about them, she had come across one Ario Barzano before. He was an Inquisitor, a real one, a very good one – but he was also an empath, and his interrogation and lie-detecting skills were now against them.

"So! Inquisitor, are you?" he said after a few moments.

"Yes, Lord Barzano."

"Ah." His face twisted up at the corners – Alice was loath to call the expression a smile. "See I know the names and whereabouts of all the Inquisitors in this subsector, and you aren't among them. The location I could have dealt with; after all, missions abounds. But no matched name, or even a known pseudonym? Well. That only tells me that you are not what you say. So I will have an explanation, before I advise the Crimson Fists to deal with you."

The colour drained from the two women's faces.

"If you please."

Louise, who didn't know this fandom at all beyond the waffling of her housemate, could only glance at Alice out of the corner of her eye and struggle not to speak. Alice herself was drawing a blank. She felt up against the wall.

~ Ha ha! ~

"We are… on a special mission. To, um, er…"

Gradually Louise could see Alice's bullshit-cogs work harder.

"We have been sent to this planet by our superiors to catch a dangerous man."


"He is… uhhh… hard to categorise. He's dangerous because he's powerful, but not in a way that would interest the Ordo Malleus. We're a special group set up to catch these people, but they're few and far between so there's not many of us and we're pretty much under the radar."

"Is that so? Then who are you?"

Alice's words stuck there; Louise was trying to stop her from rattling off about the Society any more than she had. A large parade of 'DAMN's were marching through her head with every sentence.

Then she swore she could see the lightbulb going off.

"We are the Ordo Maria-Rosa, a subdivision of the Ordo Obscurus."

Barzano's eyebrow raised in puzzlement, before he nodded. Okay, it was cheesy, barely fitted with the canon and really was the result of too much pointless research, but he had accepted it. After all the Ordo Obscurus was just that; obscured and always in the shadows, even among the three larger Ordos of the Inquisition which were all much larger and much more feared. Alice knew he was an empath from reading the books; did he have a vague inkling of what they were on about?

Louise's thoughts were interrupted as there came the sound of shouting outside.

"Just how dangerous is this man, exactly?" Barzano asked urgently.

"He has the Crimson Fists under his power; they're obeying him with no…with little question. The Librarian seems to be fighting it off, but it's not enough."

There was a loud explosion – not too close, but closer than the shouting was. The two girls clamped hands over their ears, and Alice's goggles fell from her head.

"Are either of you armed?" he asked.

"Um," said Louise.

"We were," said Alice, holding up the broken hilt of her sword.

Another explosion – closer this time. Alice panicked a little, struggling with her goggles. She heard Misty's hilarity in her ear.

"What do I do, what do I do?"

Barzano, without much more than a moment's hesitation to size her up, marched to a chest filled with sharp, explosive, projectile and other death-bringing or maiming things; he then plonked a bolt pistol into her hand. Alice was completely unprepared for the weight of the half-size bolter, and gaped at it.

"I don't know how to use this!" she blurted out, holding it by fingertips.

The Inquisitor turned, sighed in frustration, and swung it out of her hands. "That sword of yours. Was it just for show?"

"Er, no, I kinda know how – "

"Good enough for me. Take that," he said, pressing a sheathed sword into her hands and throwing the bolt pistol back into the chest, " – and make sure you use it."

The Inquisitor strode off, leaving Alice and an ever-curious Louise to look at what he had left. Alice tugged the blade out of the elaborate Inquisitorial-stamped sheath, breathing out as she let the engraved metal catch the light.

Then she depressed a button on the hilt, and with a soft whomph the sword hummed into life; waves of crackling energy suffusing the power blade ready for dealing with bad guys.

The blue light from the sword underlit Alice's grin.



The three legged it through the corridors of the palace, bursting out through the front doors. Ario Barzano carried a large plasma pistol in both hands, Alice with her sword buzzing with the energy electrifying it, and Louise with her trusty laspistol which had been pronounced 'adequate' and with a new Inquisitorial battery that gave it slightly more oomph.

Outside, the squad of very confused Crimson Fists were facing each other; the constantly feared 'brother verses brother' scenario. The hollers of the Stu turned into a yelp and he ducked out of sight.

The Librarian joined the three, nodding to the Inquisitor and marching forwards to calm his brothers. A shout from the side of the square alerted the two agents.

"Michael – Claire!"

"Aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" cheered Alice, who proved that a one-armed glomp was just as crushing as a normal one, her other hand holding her power blade.

Barzano waited a few moments, watching the greeting with some bemusement. "Ordo Maria-Rosa, I presume?"

Claire looked confused; Michael blinked, then glanced at Alice and her big grin. "Oh dear. Yes," he said, nodding to the Inquisitor.

"I believe our quarry has jumped the wall…"

"I've had enough of him," said Claire. "One lucky break and he think's he's all that – well Tash has a few words for him, I'd imagine!"

"Replace 'words' with 'a good paddling' and you might be closer to the truth…" murmured Michael, Claire giving him an odd look in return.

The four agents split into their pairs to corner the Stu, or at least to chase him back out into the square where the bamboozled Space Marines stood. At sight of Barzano McLaren turned one-eighty and hurried past a large row of the LCD screens, their currently black surfaces being slowly filled up with row upon row of silver hearts.

Alice, spotting him, hesitated a moment, then chased him to the other side of the row. McLaren pulled out a large shiny sword shaped like the Corvette symbol, gave a kind of gargled squeak of fury and swung at her – but she brought her own sword up just in time to meet his. He drew in breath, ready to draw upon his super Stu strength, but Alice readjusted her hands so she could flick the switch on her hilt, and her sword flared into hot powerful life and seared through his blade, the lightweight magnesium splintering and catching fire. He skipped backwards, pulling out a longer and stronger blade covered in BMW roundels, but the power blade on its highest setting plunged through the blade like sellotape, wedging the two weapons together. Michael then took advantage of the distraction to grab McLaren's jumpsuit collar and kick him in the back of the knees, sending him once again on his arse.

"This suit's getting filthier by the minute – ah ha ha, uhhh…hello?" he trailed off as Michael's livid face glared into his own.

Alice smiled as she turned her blade on and off, and Louise kicked the other sword a number of times and eventually enlisted the assistance of the actually rather pleasant Crimson Fist sergeant to dislodge it. The target had been captured – her first real mission wasn't a total failure after all!

Then the screens around them flashed to white, startling all those with normal eyes enough to make them jump The Space Marines were merely alerted enough to train their enhanced ocular implants on the VDUs, ready for any danger.

An immaculate swirl of silky white hair, crowning a chocolate-brown face, fashioned itself from the white pixels.

"Is that normal?" asked Claire.

"No. The broadcasting station doesn't have any worship shows that look like that."

The face on the screen smiled softly, large and all-encompassing silver Matrix-code-patterned eyes near hypnotising. The figure pulled back, revealing a slender female form floating in silver cyberspace, dressed in a pure white gloved bodysuit - or was it simply a part of her? – and spread her arms in welcome.

Michael, while confused at the appearance, easily recognised the signs after so long and so much spent working diligently for the Society. Claire watched as he flipped up his communicator.

"Tash?" he spoke down it. "I think we have a second Sue here… get Phoenixia to come see, will you?"

"Phoenixia? Why?"

"I think she's – "

He cut off abruptly as Tash's face vanished, replaced by the same figure that was still on the monitors above. Text punctuated with silver hearts scrolled across the bottom of his communicator's screen.

+++ Warmest greetings, dear sweet Agent. I am @, one with the computer…and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your introduction to your Library's system…+++

"Um," said Michael.

"Um…" echoed Claire.

"Um!" squeaked Tash.

Simultaneously, @'s visage had impressed itself on all computerised mechanisms in the immediate vicinity, causing them to shut down with their power completely drained and leaving only silver hearts on any screens, or tinny laughter from speakers – but Michael's communicator lit up, unresponsive to his frantic button-mashing and even his removal of the battery.

In the Library, Tash and many others watched this strange event, that familiar feeling of apprehension growing – but only for a moment, as suddenly silver hearts popped up on the Monitor Room's screens and laughter tittered through the speakers. Immediately she pulled up the powerful antivirus system, but before she could do any more Phoenixia shoved her off her chair.

"What the hell?" she cursed as she stared at the screen. She slapped her hand onto the wide keyboards, plunging her will into the computer and causing a red border to appear around every monitor in the Library. She laid a hand on the control interface. "She's in the computer – "

"The antivirus isn't stopping her!"

"It will," growled Phoenixia. "It's the best in the Multiverse and it can stop any digital Sue that dares approach – "

But the antivirus came up with an unexpected message: NO THREATS FOUND.


The ex-hologram practically tore off the covering to access the interior of the computer, reaching her arms inside and allowing herself a better, and unique, look at the workings. A diagram appeared on the screen, detailing the thousands of layers of antivirus and firewalls she and Adrian had built up over the centuries; (a) was an eighth of the way through to the core, farther than anyone had ever reached. At last, the antivirus window caught on to the invasion as Phoenixia waged her digital one-woman war.

"She's not – ! She's not even in the system, she's in the base wiring – or in the wireless – "

She jerked upright and whirled around, arms still tangled in wire. She stared towards Tash – or more accurately, to her laptop, sitting innocently on the table with Facebook and a Word document half-open on its desktop… linked in to the Library's wireless with nowhere near the level of protection needed.

This was the second time Tash found herself sprawling to the ground. "Phoenixia, what kind of – !"

Phoenixia jerked out Tash's headphones only to hear @'s chuckle emanate briefly, before the screen shone bright silver. She fought the influence of the Sue to get through to Tash's own commercial antivirus system; but it was already corrupted, filled with mocking profuse thanks and silver hearts. Windows started appearing and vanishing as Phoenixia rushed to close them, but they came too fast, leaving her to recognise what @ was really doing. The windows used were websites, forums, internet and intranet pages, email clients…the glow started fragmenting into hearts, each one disappearing with every window.

Phoenixia drew in her breath sharply and looked back to the monitor of the Library computer, unchanged since the laptop had started to glow. The other agents and the Librarian watched as, past the baffled antivirus, the silver hearts vanished one by one, shooting off in many different directions. Unfortunately Phoenixia knew exactly what had happened, and she slammed the laptop shut.

"What has she done?"

"Damn that Sue! She's used us a conduit!"

"A what? Phoenixia – "

She jerked her head up and glared at the others. Her eyes almost seemed as though they were smouldering with rage. "The attack on the Library was a dupe. Tash's laptop was all she needed. (a) has sneaked in, photocopied her arse, and all of them have left the building."

There followed a moment of blinking as they translated this; but then the Monitor Room exploded into activity as everyone present raced to now-completely functioning terminals and ran high-level searches in every fandom with Internet access.

In 40k, the four agents watched the pseudo-invasion over Michael's communicator, at a loss for words. (a)'s travel up through the computers had taken less than forty seconds, and now there were any number of her spread across the Multiverse, and in every personal computer in the Library at that moment.

McLaren broke the silence, his eyes wide. "Cool."

"You!" Alice marched over to him, sword in hand, and grabbed his shirt. "Who was that? What was that? What are you up to?"

"Not me, not me! I've never seen her before! That was awesome though; she just got into the computers like that – "

Alice wasn't the only one who silenced him again. Ario Barzano met her gaze over the now gagged and kneeling Stu, and he nodded to her.

Michael and Claire prepared the device that would make memories of the Stu and the agents fuzzy, with Louise watching in curiosity, having being banned from helping. Alice, however, took that wonderful power blade off her belt and walked up to the Inquisitor.

"What should I do with your sword, sir?"

"Yours is broken, and if you plan to continue on you will need to go armed. Take it with you, and don't let it break this time," he replied.


"I just said, didn't I?"

"Eeee!" Alice squeaked before wrapping her arms around the genial Inquisitor in what had to be the closest public non-threatening bodily contact he had had for a long time.

"Did she just glomp the Inquisitor?" asked Claire in bemusement.

"Yup…" sighed Louise, head in her hands.

The Crimson Fist Librarian stifled his laugh as the glomp-shocked Barzano blinked, patted her on the back and asked if she would let him go now. He turned to the captive, who had always struck him as odd and now he had proof. He was a resourceful little brat, he gave him that, even with the Ordo Maria-Rosa Inquisitor's shackles now on his wrist.

McLaren had managed to chew through his gag, and now he spat out the remains, struggling to rise from beneath his guards. "Smile all you want, Librarian! I know stuff now! Even the great and mighty Crimson Fists fall before me; but hey, you're bound to anyway, seeing that you worship some Imperial doofus who can't get off the can!"

At the astounded silence, Louise went "Ooooooh dear."

Michael applauded sarcastically. "Well done old boy, well done indeed."

Then the bolters came up, pointing straight at the Stu's head.

"Wait! Hang on, don't kill him!" Louise shrieked. Alice scurried forwards and yanked the Prohibited McLaren out from certain death, ignoring the whisperings of Misty in her ear and throwing him unceremoniously to Michael.

"Gentlemen, while it's quite gratifying… the Ordo Maria-Rosa will take him from here."

The Librarian studied her face. It wasn't worth lying to him, but with McLaren having thoroughly pissed them off he gave them the benefit of his doubt.

"You take the heretic, and deal with him as you wish. But ensure he is punished for his blasphemy."

"Just one thing before we go…" said Alice, a mischievous grin coming over her face. The three other agents and Barzano recognised this grin. It was the smile that preceded bruised ribs.

"Yes?" said the Librarian.

"Can I glomp you?"


Tash silently marched the captured Stu into the Library basement. He had all but resigned himself to being locked up, for his mind was burning with what he had seen. She pushed him down the corridor, glaring at the captives who considered it a good idea to heckle, or fire questions, or complain. It never worked, but they did it anyway and were relentless about it.

She stopped at an empty cell, unlocked it and pushed McLaren inside.

"Hey, what kind of treatment is this? I have rights, you know!"

"Oh yes, dearest Librarian, I've half a mind to report you to Geneva for this!"

"We're treated like animals! It's unsanitary!"

"Not to mention demeaning."

McLaren grinned at the support. "If this is the best you can do, Tashy-washy… you can barely capture us, barely keep us contained… it's rather pathetic, is it not? Perhaps your leadership status here needs a review, and your agents retraining, mmm?"

She was still for only a few moments before the rage flushed her face, and she seized his shirt and hauled him painfully against the bars.

"Listen to me you little PIPSQUEAK! You almost got my agents killed and believe me when I say that is the LAST thing you should do! You are made of construed bollocks and you are doing oh-so-well in making our lives an utter misery! How would you bloody like it if I did the same to you, huh? HUH?"

McLaren's eyes bugged as the usually calm Librarian screamed at him. All the other inmates had silenced at the unexpected outburst, and the boy could only make small squeaks in response.

Tash's face screwed up, and she dropped him, turning on her heel and fleeing the basement. McLaren slumped against the bars and slid to his knees, letting out the breath he had been holding.

"Yeeeeesh! What leapt up and bit her in the butt lately?" came the slightly-humoured comment.

"Shut up, you," snapped a miserable Sue sat in a corner.

McLaren listened to the banter, considering the knowledge he had to share. And share it he must. "Guys, listen. I've got some news for you. I saw something today that I think you might be interested in…"


Tash walked the corridors of the Library slowly, furiously ashamed at herself for losing her temper at the stupid boy in the cage. For all their immense faults they were human beings, and she was angry at herself after going over what she had said to him – and the other Sues – because it could easily be construed as a threat of death. Something which she was very much against, even for them.

The thought bubbled up hot inside her again and she turned towards the wall, her forehead impacting the panelled wood as she cursed at herself under her breath and struggled to remain calm.

Slowly she released a sigh, and as she breathed in again, an unexpected smell came with it.


Tash whirled around in alarm, sniffing the air around her. If part of her Library was on freakin' fire

Wait, it smelt good. Mellow. Crispy.

She followed her nose to an open doorway, her baffled curiosity deafening her to the cordial banter within.

"…but she hit the Total Author Lock barrier thingy that's on that fandom, and kinda slid down it with a broken nose. So we scooped her up and hogged her on back here."

"Total Author Lock?"

"Yeah, Adrian told me about them once, and how they worked. Well she kept wailing that she wanted to go and play with the Liveships, and we didn't have to say no there. She was stuck."

"Tis annoying though, 'cause we can't get through either, and Sues only two levels above her can get through TALs like they were mosquito nets. Doesn't stop them all, even though thanks to them there's very few Sues in those fandoms screwing things about. So generally we don't worry about them."

"Ah, all right then."

"More toast, chaps and chapesses?"

Tash now stood in the doorway, trying to take in the scene. Lots of hungry agents were in this kitchen, sat on chairs or on the floor, most munching on a copious supply of toasted bread. Loaf bags littered the worktop at the back of the room, tubs of butter and jars of varying spread were loaded onto the table. The Acacia honey had been hidden somewhere nobody wanted to go and there had been negotiations over the Nutella. Standing at the head was Alice, that wide cheeky grin on her face and her sword in her hand.

"Hey Tash, want some toast?" chorused a number, punctuated by laughter.

"How'd ya like it done? Warm bread or charcoal'd?" asked Alice, lifting the crumb-scattered engraved power blade up and thumbing the control switch. The crumbs vaporised swiftly as white and blue energy coruscated up the steel, settling down to a pale glow as she placed it on its lowest setting.

"Urk." The noise Tash made as she rebooted her vocal cords made the whole kitchen hoot with more laughter. "Alice, please tell me you have not stolen that buzzing thing from the 40k fandom!"

"Um," said Alice. "The Inquisitor gave it to me and told me I could keep it. Kind of. Don't think he thought I was going to take it out-universe…and it's not one-of-a-kind, they make these small little, um, non-special power blades by the dozen…"

"Fine, all right." Tash threw up her hands, in no mood to argue. "What are you doing with it?

"Making toast." She slid the sword through a half-cut loaf of bread she had in front of her, and in what had to be described as a truly Hitchhiker's moment, toasted the bread with a fizzle as she did. Dave caught the toast with his plate, nodding to her with a grin and returning to the loganberry jam.

"That is not how you're supposed to – "

"Hey Tash, we have Marmite!" said Jess, flicking the round glass jar so it came to a dancing stop in front of her. The Librarian stared down at the spread, and smelt the lovely toasty buttery smell…

"Oh sod it, give me three rounds. I'm bloody hungry," she said, pulling out a chair to join the others, who welcomed her with gusto.

On a screen in the corner of the kitchen was a visual representation of the extensive clean-up of the Library's computer system. @'s attack on the computer and her momentary express visit through the wireless had provoked the resident digital being into a full-on defensive mode, adamant that she was going to sweep her computers clean of any Sue influence and ensure this would not happen again. Nobody had ever seen Phoenixia like this before.

The monitor bore a Pac-man maze to one side. Phoenixia, represented as a purple Mrs. Pac-man, had been wakka-wakka-wakka-ing her way through the labyrinth, giving the computer a thorough clean-up of all the dots and discarded fruit which lay around. Any ghosts that dared to show up before her were unceremoniously dealt with.

However the forlorn purple figure now had the maze to herself, empty of all detritus. But every now and then a silver heart would pop up; Phoenixia would swoop down upon it, rip it to shreds and resume her wanderings. Michael was watching her exemplary efforts to rid the system of (a)'s miniscule effects, keeping note of when the silver hearts showed. She had been sweeping for over six hours now, and only four hearts had shown in the last two.

A digital Sue?


He hoped they'd seen the last of her… it… them? Probably not, but riding on this thought was the hope that she wasn't as powerful as they feared. Though if she could use their systems as a slingshot…

Nothing had emerged thus far, not even in the agents' inboxes, and as far as he knew she was a new discovery. Either she was only just created, or any other powers she had were much lower than this.

Or she was spreading and biding her time to strike…

He bit violently into his toast, nearly chomping on his lip too. He was sure they'd find a way to work out what @ was really after, and that Phoenixia could use what she had discovered about her to develop an antivirus Prohibitor of some kind.

He was sure he was sure.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shipping Contest: MichaelxClaire

"What are you wearing?" Tash pulled a face, fanning herself with her stack load of paperwork. In the midst of the Library's sub-tropical temperatures, Michael looked completely uncomfortable and completely out of place in his current attire. A thick, dark red winter jacket covered him from neck to waist, puffing out his form somewhat with the extra layers. Fleece lined jeans covered his legs, and black snowboots elevated him by a couple of inches. His face, which peeked out from somewhere underneath a woollen hat, was flushed from the heat. He also carried a rucksack, which was bulging with who knew what.

"I'm taking Claire on a date," he explained. "To the coldest, most romantic place I can think of. In other words, as far away from the Library as I can possibly get."

Tash fanned herself harder, ignoring the creases developing in her mission reports. This was what happened when you denied Phoenixia the chance to "blow off some steam (and a few guys)" in a fandom. The ex-hologram in a fit of spite, had shut off the air conditioning, and was threatening to keep it off until Tash let her out, or until someone screwed her into submission – whichever happened first.

As both agents muttered various insults, grievances, and threats to Phoenixia's person under their breath, Claire appeared from her own room, dressed in a similar winter jacket of bright sparkly purple, and boots. Her hat was also purple, and had ear flaps, which she was playing with quite happily.

"All ready!" she announced, beaming. Tash grinned at them both as they linked hands, fingers intertwined. Claire's engagement ring was proudly displayed on her left hand.

"Aww, you're both so cute," she smiled, at the happy couple. "I'd hug you both, but I'm so hot and sweaty, I don't wanna touch anyone right now..."

"Yeah, thanks Aneki," Michael pulled a face. "We'll be leaving now. Have fun stewing in your own body fluids."

"Shut up," the leader muttered, wandering back to work. Bumping shoulders as they went, the couple opened a plothole and vanished through it.


Snowpoint City was a beautiful place, no matter what time of year you visited. In early January (as it was at the point of time where Michael and Claire arrived) snow topped the buildings like a layer of icing on fat cakes, with trees framing the entire city as it sat in the shadow of the mountain. A small flock of bird Pokemon soared overhead, and the occasional cries of Sneasel and Snover could be heard coming from Acuity Lakefront.

There was no snow falling when the couple arrived just outside the Pokemon Centre. The cold mountain air and the smell of winter were beautifully refreshing compared to the humidity and ever present smell of sweat that had been floating around the Library for the past few days. Michael threw back his head and inhaled deeply, removing his hat and unzipping his jacket to fully embrace the cold that now raced over his skin. Claire took the more direct approach and just fell backwards into the fluffy snow on the ground, giggling madly.

The sky above both their heads was punctuated by thick grey clouds. Michael grinned, knowing that his timing had been spot on. The trick was finding a good location from where to watch. Maybe they could head a bit further up the mountain...

He was snapped out of his thought process by Claire glomping him around the waist.

"This is the best place you could have picked!" she informed him, before turning around and pointing at the area of snow she had just been sprawled out on. "And look! Snow angel!"

"You're a snow angel," Michael told her. Claire grinned wider still, bending down to poke a pair of eyes and a mouth into her angel. Taking advantage of her back being turned, Michael scooped up a handful of snow, packed it lightly together and threw. It caught Claire in the shoulder, and she whirled around.

"Don't start a fight you can't win!" she told him, as both of them dropped to the ground for more ammunition.
Claire squeaked as a second snowball impacted in her chest and sent her tumbling backwards onto her rear.

"Who says I can't win?" Michael smirked, approaching with another snowball. Claire scrambled to her feet, but before she could go anywhere, Michael had seized her and began stuffing snow down the back of her jacket. Claire shrieked.

"Michael! That's cold!"

"That's the point!" her boyfriend retorted. "Told you you couldn't wi – GAH!"

He released her and recoiled, as one of Claire's magical sparkly pinecones caught him in the side of the head. He staggered back, rubbing the impact zone.

"Baby! That hurt!" he whined.

"Yeah, well now I'm cold and wet!" Claire replied. "We're square."

Michael pouted. "Fine... and before I forget," he rubbed the side of his head, before plucking four small round red and white balls from his belt. He tossed two to Claire.

"I had to borrow a few Plot Devices, but we have at least a little company." He rummaged in his pocket, and extracted two small red pills. "And I brought Oneshots so we can understand what they're saying."

Beaming, Claire took the offered pill and gulped it down, before enlarging the two Poke Balls and tossing them into the air. A flash of light later and two creatures stood beside her. First was her Squirtle, who gleefully began racing around in the snow like a happy child. The second was Cubone, who glanced around once, twice, and then a third time in curiosity, before picking up his bone and drawing in the snow.

Michael's own Poke Balls were released, and two more creatures appeared in the middle of the snow. The first was Infernape, who hopped around, hooting and screeching about the cold indignantly. The second was Combee, who wore a pink bow wrapped around her head, and who's three faces split into identical wide grins.

"DADDY! MUMMY!" she squealed in joy, tackling Michael in the chest, and nuzzling him through his jacket. "Ooo! We're in a cold place! This will be fun! Can I go play in the snow? Can I Daddy?"

Michael hugged Combee tightly, so as to prevent her from taking a dive into the slush that covered the ground. On instinct, Claire dove one hand into her jacket pocket and pulled out a Pecha Berry. Combee was instantly distracted, and devoured the berry.

"Mmm! Nom!" she giggled. "Thanks Mummy!"

Infernape sweatdropped, running a hand over his flaming head. "Oh we go again..." Out of everyone in Michael's party, Combee was probably best known for her seemingly endless state of curious hyperactivity.

"We should get further up the mountain," Michael suggested, zipping Combee up inside his jacket, as Infernape hitched a piggyback ride on his trainer. "We'll have a better view."

"Better view of what?" Claire enquired, as the two began their walk leisurely up the hill. Michael checked his watch again, before glancing up at the sky above them.

"Well its January twelfth," he explained. "Which means at some point today, Diamond Dust will start falling from those clouds. I thought we could sit up here, watch it, and cool off from the Library."

"Diamond Dust?" Claire tilted her head to one side, contemplating, before her eyes suddenly went wide with excitement. "Ooo! Sparkly!"

She yanked on his hand. "Come on! We'll miss the sparkles!"

And giggling evermore, she charged up the hill, pulling a surprised boyfriend with her.


The eyes watched the couple race up the hill, their feet leaving prints in the snow, deep and fresh.

"Two Society agents? They found me quickly. I haven't even been here that long."

A smirk, as cold as the ice around him, formed on a white face.

"Well... I'm sure I can deal with them. I don't plan on leaving this fandom just yet..."


"Daddy!" in Michael's arms, Combee wriggled and squirmed. "I want to get down now!"

"What do you say?" Claire asked automatically. Combee thought for a few seconds, then all three of her faces smiled imploringly up at Michael.


Half an hour after they had first arrived in the fandom, they had walked a fair distance, and Michael decided that this clearing would be as good a place to stop as any. Kissing her on the head, Michael released his charge, who immediately buzzed off to explore. She found the nearest tree, and flew straight into it, sending a downfall of snow from the branches above plummeting onto her.

"Weeee!" the bumblebee giggled, as she backed up for another try. "I wanna do it again!"

To the casual observer, this act may have appeared masochistic, but the other Pokemon knew that this was just a by-product of Combee's natural hyperactivity.

"Combee!" Michael called. "Stop that baby. You'll hurt yourself."

"Aww..." Combee pouted. "Kay Daddy..."

And she buzzed around the clearing, trying to find another tree. Cubone took it upon himself to keep a watchful eye on her, and began following at a slight distance.

Assured that Combee was being watched, Michael reached into his rucksack and pulled out a large, thick picnic blanket, which he spread on the ground. Claire plonked herself down on it, laying backwards to watch the clouds form above them. Still fishing in the rucksack, Michael extracted a sandwich box, two plastic mugs, and a thermos. He passed the bag to Claire, who pulled out two large subs stuffed full to bursting, and poured her a mug of chocolate.

"You thought of everything, didn't you?" Claire commented, accepting her drink. Michael just shrugged and poured himself a mug.

"I was going to bring champagne, but I thought something warm would be better. Plus Rhia would kill me if she caught me raiding her kitchen again...don't laugh!" he objected, as Claire giggled. "Those knives of hers are scary!"

They were both distracted as Combee's activities caused a small avalanche of snow to fall from a tree, burying poor Infernape completely.

"Cold, cold, COLD!" Infernape screamed, evaporating the snow on his head with a small burst of flames. He hopped around the clearing to exercise some warmth back into his limbs.

"Yay! Inferny is dancing!" Combee began bobbing in midair. Deciding to play along, Cubone began to beat out a rhythm with his bone on a nearby rock. Squirtle just fell over giggling, as Combee drew a deep breath and began to sing.

"La, la, la la laaa! Ha ha, ha ha haaa! Dah dah, dah dah daaah! Want your bad romance!"

Hearing this, Infernape made a mental note to inform Michael that Miriku and Tash had been teaching Combee inappropriate songs again.


"Its tractor baby. Trac-tor," Michael enunciated slowly.

"Trac-er," Claire poked him in the ribs, dropping her T on purpose this time. Her fiancée rolled his eyes.

"Farmer... crazy farmer with a strange accent..."

"I'm not a farmer!" Claire retorted. "I'm from Dorset! What's your excuse for speaking funny?"

"I'm American," Michael replied promptly.

"That's not an excuse."

"You use being British as an excuse all the time!"

"But being British is a status symbol!" Claire saluted as she spoke. "And besides, if I'm a farmer, then that means Harriet is too. She's a Dorset girl."

"Too bad you have no sheep any more since the Welsh girls left," Michael pointed out.

"We've still got our Guernsey Donkey's – Tash and Jess."

Michael was about to reply, when something warm burrowed against him.

"Daddy?" Combee appeared, snuggling against Michael's neck like a shy child.

"Yes sweetie?" Michael patted her on the head. The bumblebee sniffed.

"I'm cold!"

Unsurprised in the slightest, Michael unwrapped his own scarf and tied it around Combee, taking care to keep her wings free.

"Yay!" Combee nuzzled him and then buzzed off again. Faint snatches of song were cast to the wind as she left.

"She's singing now?" Claire asked, wondering if the peace was forever gone for their group. Michael shook his head.

"She didn't get it from me-" he paused as he saw Claire's shoulder shaking with laughter. "What?"

"Oh please! She so got it from you, Mr-I-Rickrolled-My-Opponent-In-A-Battle!"

"Hey! That was a good strategy!" Michael defended. "It won me the match!"

"Ah but you lost your dignity in the process," Claire reminded him sombrely. "And you taught the Darkness one of the most annoying songs ever!"

And just like that, the mood was broken, and the temperature around the couple seemed to drop by a few degrees. Michael's face turned dark and brooding, and Claire seemed to deflate, before putting both arms around over his shoulders.

"I'm sorry..."

"Its okay," Michael muttered. "I just... miss him, y'know?"

Claire didn't really know, but she could imagine fairly well. However much Michael had complained about the Darkness, and its annoying and hazardous presence in his mind, the parasite had become a constant in his life, not to mention a significant boost of strength.

"And... I suppose I'm annoyed too," Michael admitted. "It sucks not to even know the reason why he's gone..." He grumbled, throwing his head back to look at the sky. "All those months I wished he'd just shut up and leave me alone... not that I regretted getting him at the time." He quickly smiled at Claire, who squeezed his hand.

"You're a crazy man..." she told him. "Selling your soul just to save someone..."

Michael cut her off with a kiss, which seemed to linger a bit longer than normal, and Claire realised he was remembering that mission and everything that had come with it – the panic when he had realised that she had been kidnapped. The fear when his mind had tormented him with what could be happening to her. And the determination to rescue her whatever the costs. Neither of them noticed the clouds getting thicker above their heads, or the commotion Infernape made when Cubone smacked him over the head for pulling faces at them.

"You are worth it," Michael eventually said. "And if I had to give my body up to another parasitic demon to keep you safe, I'd do it in a heartbeat."

"...well there's a promise most women don't get," Claire smiled, reaching for her hot chocolate. She sipped it for a second, thinking. "Since we don't know where the Darkness went, maybe it'll come back."

Despite the possibility, Michael did not feel very hopeful.

"Maybe... but until then..." he looked nervously at the ground. "I'm scared Claire... all these Sovereigns running around... and all these Sues that are stupidly powerful cropping up all the time... if another Alastor came up right now... I just don't know if..."

"You would," Claire put her cup down and folded her arms firmly. "You would be able to defeat him again. And anyone else." She tilted her head as she spoke. "Why do you think Tash and Harriet made you Chief Agent? Because they know you kick butt with or without the Darkness."

" think so?" her boyfriend asked with a smile.

"Duh..." Claire muttered. "The Darkness showed you that it is possible for you to be powerful – that you are powerful. Now its gone...its time you proved that, without its help. And you are." She smiled. "I've seen you training long after I've gone to bed, and not coming back until I'm getting up the next morning."

"Well if you will insist on being on crazy British time..."


"Daddy?" Combee's voice interrupted.

"Yes sweetie?" Michael turned to his charge.

"The snow is tickling my nose!" Combee gave a giggle, which turned into a sneeze. Michael absently placed a tissue in front of her nose, which Combee blew into quickly.

"Yay! "

She buzzed off again.

"And aside from being kick ass," Claire continued. "You're adorable too."

"Combee is adorable," Michael blushed.

"Nuu, you're adorable," Claire poked him in the side.

"You are," Michael retorted, poking back.

"You are."

"You are!"

"You are, and I'm British so I'm always right!"

"Unless we take your tea."


Michael swung his head around to see Combee again, wearing her inquisitive face this time. "Yes sweetie?"

"What's a vertical stick?" Combee inquired, blinking at him imploringly. "Inferny is being mean, and won't tell me."

Michael's mouth fell somewhere around his collar, as Claire burst out laughing.

"Combee, who has been teaching you Lady Gaga songs?" he asked.

"Auntie Tashy and Auntie Miri," Combee smiled proudly. "They told me all the words... I don't remember them all though, so I make them up. But I do remember that one, because I don't know what it means..."

"I'll explain it when you're older," Michael promised, as Claire unwrapped one of the sandwiches. "Now go play."


The Chief Agent shook his head in exasperation as the honey bee Pokemon buzzed off. Distraction arrived in the form of a sandwich, which Michael happily took. With so much paperwork to do, he hadn't eaten all day. He had tried to have waffles for breakfast, but when Miriku had bent down to give him a good morning hug, her hair had swept them clean off the plate and chomped them down. Evidently, she need it cut again.

"These subs are huge..." Claire stated, though from her tone she wasn't complaining at all, as she took her first bite. "Where on earth did you get them?"

Michael looked very nervous all of a sudden. "Well... I cornered Rhia a couple of days ago and asked her for a bread recipe. Took me four tries. She could probably have done them better..."

He trailed off as Claire leaned over and kissed him sweetly.

"They're awesome. And you made cheese and ham! My favourite! I wonder... did you make dessert?"

Michael smirked. "Oh I have dessert planned back at the Library. You just have to wait..."

"Daddy?" a familiar voice interjected behind the couple, at what was probably the most inappropriate moment thus far.

"Yes sweetie?" Michael sighed, swallowing the bite he had just taken. The bumblebee gave him very big, imploring eyes.

"Can I have a sandwich?" she asked, before opening all three of her mouths wide. "Aaaaahhh..."

"No Combee, you can't have Daddy's sandwich," Claire said firmly. As Combee's eyes began to water sadly, Claire reached into her pocket and pulled out a Watmel berry. "But you can have this instead."

Like a set of traffic lights, Combee's eyes switched back to wide and imploring. "Aaaaahhhh..." she opened her mouth again, and Claire parked the berry into it. Beaming as best she could with her mouth stuffed beyond capacity, Combee buzzed off with her prize.

"What do you say?" Michael called after her.

"'ankoo 'ummy!"

Rolling his eyes, Michael took a bite, pleased with himself for pulling off the food without a hitch, pleased with the company, and also pleased that so far everything was going without a problem...

As if to make things perfect, a tiny sparkling flake landed on the back of his gloved hand. It shimmered like a rainbow as he moved it back and forth against the dimming light.

"Its starting," he announced. Claire pulled her eyes away from her ham and cheese, just in time for a dust flake to land on her nose. She went cross eyed trying to see it. Michael leaned over and blew it off.

"You looked silly," he told her.

"You're a silly," Claire poked her tongue out, flicking diamond dust off his hair.

"You are."

"You are."

They continued muttering back and forth, watching as the dust began to fall heavier, scattering to the ground like glitter, and turning Snowpoint city, and the whole mountain top into something out of a fairytale. Trees sparkled as though covered in rain drops, and the buildings in the city below them looked as though they had been coated in diamonds.

Claire giggled abruptly, brushing a few flakes of dust away from where they had settled on Michael's cheek.

"You look like a Twilight vampire," she informed him. Michael paled, and immediately tried to bury his head in the snow in horror.

"Nuuu! I've committed the ultimate sin! I can never show my face again!"

Laughing helplessly, Claire pulled him upright by his shoulder, and rubbed his cheeks, which had turned pink from being pressed into the snow.

"You're no vampire," she told him. "I thought we established long ago that you're the grim reaper?"

Michael grinned as he remembered that particular nickname. "Yeah... but now my cheeks are cold..."

Rolling her eyes, Claire kissed one cheek, then the other, then kissed him full on the lips with a cheeky smile. Slipping his arms behind her back, Michael pulled her close and deepened the kiss – after all, he was very cold.


"Aww!" Squirtle cooed. "They're so cute!"

Squirtle and Cubone were spying on the couple from behind a nearby tree, having delegated the task of watching Combee, to Infernape, who was about to pull his fur out in frustration by this point. Combee had been thrown into throes of utter delight upon seeing the shiny snow fall from the sky, and was buzzing around in it at top speed, not caring who or what she ran into.

"Ooooh! Shiny!" she giggled, bouncing off another tree. "Inferny! Look at all the shiny!"

"Yes Combee..." Infernape said in a long, suffering voice. "Very shiny..."

"You're not listening to me," Combee pouted, coming to a hover, and bouncing on Infernape's head. "What do you think I am? Stupid?"

Infernape wisely decided not to answer.

Cubone and Squirtle giggled, the former sneezing as a sparkly flake landed on the end of his nose.

"It is pretty..." Squirtle nodded, holding out his hand to catch some of the flakes.

"Not as pretty as those two," Cubone nodded to the couple, who had now abandoned their sandwiches. Now perched on Infernape's head like some kind of headdress, Combee nodded in agreement.

"Yup yup!" she agreed, before tilting her head to the side curiously. "Why has Daddy got his hand in Mummy's shirt?"

Her eyes were immediately covered by Infernape's hand, while Squirtle and Cubone burst into more giggling.

"Hey!" the bumblebee Pokemon complained. "I want to see Mummy and Daddy's kissy time!"

"Combee, go play with the shiny again," the monkey Pokemon ordered. Combee's eyes lit up as they were uncovered, and she instantly forgot about watching the trainers make out.

"Yay! Shiny!" she dive bombed a tree in excitement. "Oooo..."

Cubone shook his head. "Oblivious."

"Very," Infernape agreed, as Combee began to barrel roll in mid air.

"Inferny!" Combee whined. "The world is spinning around..."

"That's just you," Infernape sighed, creeping closer to the clearing where the trainers were cuddling, in the hopes of getting a better view.

"Oh yeah..." Combee grinned sheepishly, before peering somewhere into the distance. Her eyes went wide in sudden excitement. "Stranger!"

"You're a stranger..." Infernape replied absently. Combee pulled a face.

"I'm not strange! Daddy says I'm special!"

"Yeah... special needs maybe..." Infernape muttered, before sitting up straight. Something was making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. "There's someone coming."

"Told you!" Combee declared proudly. "My bumblebee senses are jingling!"

"I think the phrase is 'tingling'," Squirtle corrected sweetly.

There was a man approaching up the hill, cutting a large, perfectly even trench through the snow, with his firm, strong looking body (which despite being covered in a thick jacket, was still easily noticeable). His dark eyes scanned everywhere, missing nothing, and as he spotted the Pokemon, his face broke into a pleasant smile, which showed perfectly even, white teeth, and inspired trust in every sane mind in the universe.

...fortunately for us then, that Michael and Claire's Pokemon, were not sane in the slightest. Infernape and Squirtle had both seen a Gary-Stu before, in the form of Alastor, and could remember quite clearly the effects that he had had upon them. Cubone was suspicious as he noticed his friends shift to battle stances, and he wisely gripped his bone club a little tighter.

And Combee... stopped grinning. This man had a smart face – but it wasn't a nice, funny smart, like Auntie Tashy's Thoth, or Auntie Miri's Tails. It was the same smartness that Team Rocket always had. The bad kind.

The man paused, observing the small party, before holding up his hands, in what was supposed to be a non-threatening gesture. "Hello there... are you all lost?"

Infernape rolled his eyes. "He is so stupid... does he really think he'll be able to understand us if we answer back?"

"But I can understand you," the man smiled. "My name is Jackson Carey Marlin Bryon-"

"You're hair is so shiny I could use it as a mirror," Squirtle muttered quietly.

"I heard that!" was the slightly ticked off response.

"You two are being rude," Combee informed her friends. "Mummy and Daddy always say to be polite."

"Except to fictional characters with God complexes," Squirtle added.

"I do not have a God complex! I am a Gary-Stu!" Jackson proclaimed, proudly.

Cubone blinked several times. "A... gary stew?"

"Mmm! Sounds tasty!" Combee declared, licking her lips.

The Stu was completely frustrated now. All Pokemon usually took to him wonderfully – heck he was only a few steps away from having a team strong enough to catch every legendary in the world, trample all the Pokemon Leagues, and defeat every evil mastermind in this fandom. And now this mishmash of Pokemon were standing here, on the mountains of Snowpoint, completely immune to his charms?

It had to be their trainers, Jackson thought to himself. These Pokemon belonged to the Society Agents who had shown up recently. He smirked. Maybe he could use this to his advantage...after all, he was sure they wouldn't want their precious Pokemon hurt...

"A Gary-Stu is the kind of people that Clairey and Michael hunt," Squirtle explained. Cubone narrowed his eyes through his mask at the man, and drew back his bone club threateningly.

"But I thought a stew was a kind of soup..." Combee blinked cutely. "I'm so confused..."

"Oh don't worry, I can enlighten you," the man before them smirked. "You see, if your trainers are Society Agents, then I'm afraid I can't let them leave here. They've been causing my friends a lot of trouble."

Infernape's hair and fists seemed to blaze with fire. "You won't get near our trainers! You'll have to go through us first!"

"Oh that won't be a problem..." Jackson smirked, fingering the Poke Balls in his belt. Before he could pull one out to use however, he was tackled full in the face. Combee.

The Poke Ball landed in the snow, as Combee backed up and dive bombed the Stu again, all three of her faces registering rage of the most dangerous variety. She impacted painfully in his solar plexus, and the man doubled over howling in pain. Combee immediately shot like a rocket into his spine, sending him careening face first into the snow.

"WHAT THE HELL?" Jackson wheezed, once he had enough breath to speak.

"You are a bad man!" Combee declared, ploughing into the man's knees as he tried to stand. "A bad, stewy soupy man! No one interrupts Daddy and Mummy's kissy time! That's just RUDE!"

All three of her faces blew raspberries, before she tackled him in the shoulder.

"Gah!" the Stu ran around in circles, flapping his hands at his assailant. "Get away from me, you insane bumblebee!"

"I'm not insane!" Combee protested, giving him a particularly painful bruise in the neck. "And I have Nurse Joy's cyclematric reports to prove it!"

"Psychiatric," Infernape corrected wearily.

"Bless you!" Combee paused to smile sweetly at Infernape, who facepalmed in response.

" we actually need to do anything?" Cubone asked, scratching his head with his bone club.

"...Nah," Squirtle shrugged.


"I don't think his head is on straight baby..."

"Its artistic, Michael," Claire huffed, shoving her gloved hands under her arms in an attempt to keep them warm. She felt like she had icicles laced through her joints, but it was so worth the effort. Their snowman was four feet tall, and with the recent shower of diamond dust, he sparkled like he was encrusted with diamonds. Claire's scarf was wrapped around his waist, and Michael had fashioned one of the tinfoil wrappers from their eaten sandwiches into a hat for him. The hat was sliding off due to the tilted angle of the head.

Michael spotted her shivering, and hurried to her side, wrapping his hands around hers, and blowing on them. "Cold?"

"Mmm... not anymore," Claire muttered, resting her head on her fiancée's shoulder and yawning widely. "Tired though..." She leaned up to kiss him, warmth spreading right through her frozen limbs as he pulled her closer and kissed back. "Thank you Michael," she smiled, as they broke apart. "Today has been wonderful."

"Well, I try," he grinned back. "I got the location right, and the sandwiches right... and we made an awesome snowman..." he frowned suddenly. "But the Pokemon were strangely quiet. Where are they?"

Claire peered around, as though expecting them to come leaping out from behind the trees at any moment. "Maybe we should go look for them..."

No more prompting was needed, as Michael hastily repacked the blanket and remains of their food, and they set off. They did not have to look very far, as they entered the next clearing and were confronted with one of the most bizarre sights ever.

"I want your cycle. Your vertical stick. Want your piano, and a big shiny brick! I want your lo – Daddy!" Combee squealed, from where she bounced happily on Jackson's back. She sounded very pleased with herself. "I caught the soup man!" In her glee, she began to spin around like a top.

The poor Stu lay face down on the ground, appearing to be in some kind of paralytic state. Infernape was anxiously keeping him warm with the occasional blasts of flame, but the tips of his fingers were starting to turn blue, even as the fire monkey worked. Cubone was prodding him in the side timidly, the Stu's occasional moans of pain, the only sign that he was in fact still conscious. And Squirtle was racing towards Claire, tackling her in a relieved hug as they entered the clearing.

"You... caught... a Gary-Stu," Michael stated slowly.

"Don't ask," Infernape suggested. "All you need to know, is that Combee was very upset with him...and thought she could get him to move again by singing..."

The bumblebee nodded, before frowning. "I tried singing a million green bottles, but he didn't like that..."

"Please..." Jackson finally spoke, lifting his head to stare pleadingly at Michael and Claire. "Lock me up...just get me away from her..."


" how's the Stu doing now?" Tash asked, folding her arms over her chest, and leaning back in her office chair. Beside Michael and Claire, Valerie sighed.

"He's stable, but he keeps muttering about bumblebees and Lady Gaga...I don't think he needs to go in the basement. Once he's sane again, we can put him on parole."

The Society leader nodded, before running a hand over her forehead. "I'm sorry your date got spoilt by this, guys. We should have spotted him sooner..."

"Are you kidding?" Claire grinned. "That was still an awesome date!" She gave her boyfriend a side look. "Though we did miss dessert to bring the Stu back here..."

By her side, Michael blushed, and Tash's face took on a knowing smirk.

"Ah I see... okay. Well you're all dismissed then. I have paroles to do..."

Outside the door, four figures were eavesdropping.

"What are they saying?" Squirtle asked, as Cubone pressed his ear against the door again.

"Something about putting the stew on a roll..." he frowned. "That can't be right..."

"Mmm! Stew on a roll!" Combee began to bounce hyperly. "Let's go find the kitchen!"

And she buzzed off down the corridor, with the other three in her wake.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Insert Victorian-Age Slash Here

In the second of three kitchens in the Library Arcanium, two agents were well on their way to getting so hyper, they could bounce to the moon if they wanted. The dregs of a mocha espresso sat next to a still-warm percolator, and an empty 20 oz. bottle of coke lay on its side in the sink.

The two agents had long ago left coherency behind and were well into the taunt-and-giggle stage. Or just the plain 'giggles' stage.

"Miri! The ribs are-! Eee! Off limits!" Rhia jumped away and clutched at her ribs. She couldn't help the stray snorts that escaped her. It tickled.

Miri crossed her arms and glared half-heartedly. "It's your fault for trying to tickle me in the first place."

Rhia pursed her lips. "Well then, I'll just have to finish what I started. I'm sure I have a feather duster around here somewhere."

"Feather duster?"


Miri ran for it. Rhia was after her like a shot. Even though there were only two of them, they made their way through the hallways like a herd of elephants. Agents moved to hug the walls or were run over, only to cough on the dust cloud created by Miri and Rhia's passing.

"C'mon, Miri, it's only a feather duster! Rhia yelled as she brandished said tool over her head.

"I don't care!"

Alice and Louise took one look at the two as they ran by, and decided to join in. Now, Alice and Louise were the faster runners (the flying tackle glomps did do something for their average speed) and they quickly caught up to Miri and Rhia. The two groups collided and turned into one large mass of squeaks and squeals.





The mass tumbled past Cristoph, who took one look and promptly turned around. He did not want to know.


Tash, Hati, and Claire were sitting on a sofa in one of the many lounges in the Library. Each of them had had a long day in keeping the paperwork population down. Claire had about dozed off against Hati's shoulder when Tash felt a small rumble reverberate through her. She dismissed it as a Fourth Wall breakage until she realized it was getting stronger, and louder.

"Hati, do you feel that?"

"Feel what?"

"That rumbling."

"No… wait. That shaking that's getting stronger?"


Hati looked up, and saw it. "Oh dear God."

The mass plowed into the sofa, knocking it over and dumping all seven of them onto the floor.

The mass had finally stopped, tangled in a mess of limbs on the floor. Poor Tash, Claire and Hati were completely dazed.



"Your hair ate my feather duster!"

"It did?"

"Uh-huh." Rhia sounded somewhat put out. Alice started to snicker. Louise's shoulders started to shake. Before any of them knew it, they were all laughing.

Michael came in to a large group of seven girls laughing for absolutely no reason. He leaned over them. "Are you ok?"

They only laughed harder.

Michael was nonplussed, completely used to this happening at least once a month. "Hey, Rhia, you in there?

"Yeah. How'd you find me?"

"Only had to follow the path of dazed agents and dust in the air." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

"Really?" Rhia craned her neck in the direction they had come from, and sure enough, dazed agents stumbled around, trying to figure out exactly what had flew by them. She grinned. "Cool!"

"Mission for you. There's a Sue in the Sherlock Holmes 2009 movie 'verse. Low level, but she's clever. She's gotten Watson to break it off with Mary, whatever that means to you." Michael shrugged. He didn't know all that much about the Sherlock Holmes movie, or the books.

"Really." Rhia's eyes narrowed. "Well then." She stood up and dusted herself off. "C'mon, Miri!"

Miri was dragged bodily from the dog pile. "Why me?"

"Because your hair ate my feather duster!"

"Is that it?"



It was 1891, just after the Blackwood case. Watson had moved out of Baker Street, but had not yet tied the knot with Mary. It was odd. He had been anxious to get out of lodgings with Sherlock Holmes, but now that he was out, he was having second thoughts. One would think after a month he would have made up his mind.

Nearly a week after Watson had moved out, an eighteen year old girl had moved in, claiming that she had been kidnapped, was unable to get home, and wanted to find out who her kidnappers were. And, until she was able to get home, she was willing to work as a maid. Both Mrs. Hudson and Holmes agreed.

It was the most intriguing case he had had since Blackwood, and it was sure to keep his mind of the encroaching ennui and Watson.


Her name was Roxelana Ambrosia Aurelius Terelli, and she was here to make a few tweaks. Nothing too big, just some changes in some inter-personal relationships.

Roxelana smirked. The Fourth Wall shivered.


"I am Sherlock Holmes, and this is my associate, Doctor Watson. Let me assure you that any difficulties you may have will be kept in complete confidence." Holmes settled down into his armchair and threaded his fingers together.

Rhia began. "Well, you see… we're looking for someone. But we're not quite sure what she looks like or what her name is."

"Then how, exactly, do you expect me to help you?"

"We do know that she has been here." Miri broke in. "Recently. Has any young girl, about in her late teens, besides us come here for your advice?"

Watson stood up and put his hands on Holmes' shoulders. "Yes, there has been. What do you want with Roxelana?"

"Oh! So she's here then. And she's got you on a first name basis. She's fast." Rhia's grin was predatory.

"Who are you?" Watson asked, uneasy from the look in Rhia's eyes.

"We just have some business with 'Roxelana'." Miri shrugged. She reached down into her handbag where she kept the Prohibitor and some Copyrights. Both Holmes and Watson tensed, expecting a gun.

Suddenly, a knock sounded on the sitting room door. "Holmes. I have your—!" The maid stopped short and dropped the tea tray, spilling tea everywhere and shattering the pot.

It was her. Roxelana. Her hair was raven's wing black, matching obsidian dark eyes; her skin was nearly alabaster pale, and was completely flawless.

Roxelana's eyes narrowed at the two agents in a glare, but then she promptly turned around and fled.

"You! Stop! In the name of the Society, you are under arrest!" Miri yelled.

"After her!" Rhia said as she sped out the door after the Sue.

Roxelana dashed down the stairs, not once losing her footing. Rhia and Miri, on the other hand, nearly tumbled down the stairs in their haste.

Miri and Rhia chased Roxlana past the front door and into the kitchen, where they cornered her by the kitchen table. "Oh, so this is who they send after me. Two pathetic girls who can't even catch one sue. Seems standards have dropped since Willowe invaded." Roxelana sneered. "I've heard of you, Agent Rhia, the agent who can't stand slash, and can only tolerate it if it's canon."

"Miri, give me the Prohibitor." Rhia's voice brooked no argument. "This one's mine."

Rhia stalked up to the Sue. The Sue was cornered between a wall, the table, Rhia, and Miri. However, that didn't mean the Sue wouldn't give up without a fight. Rhia leapt, and they both fell down to the floor with a thud.

There was a scuffle, and a dust cloud formed that Miri couldn't see through. There were some grunts, a yelp of pain, and then screech of indignation. Roxelana shot out of the dust cloud and back up the stairs before Miri could grab her. Rhia sat on the floor of the kitchen, a blush rising on her face.

"Rhia, are you ok?"

"That - that - she felt me up! And she enjoyed it!" Rhia was incensed. "She's a slasher sue. Oh, this isn't going to be fun." She groaned.

"She ran back up the stairs! C'mon!" Miri grabbed Rhia's hand and for once was the one dragging her around. They wrenched open the door to the sitting room and were completely shocked by the sight inside. The Sue had pulled out her final weapon.

Holmes was wrapped in Watson's arms, their lips locked together in one very passionate kiss.

Miri and Rhia immediately started twitching. Roxelana giggled from her hiding place behind Holmes and Watson, patted Watson on the head—who probably didn't even notice—and opened the window.

Rhia shook her head and raced towards the Sue. Too late, Roxelana had slipped out the window and was dangling over a plot hole. "I'll see you next time, Agent Rhia!" She giggled again, blew Rhia a kiss, and fell into the plot hole.

Rhia shivered, completely disgusted.

Holmes and Watson were still kissing each other, but it had moved from a long passionate kiss to small nips up and down each other's necks.

Rhia started twitching again. "Miri, for my sanity, please, slap a Copyright on those two."

Miri smirked, pulled two Copyrights out of her bag, and whacked them onto Holmes and Watson's backs. The two blinked, realized what they were doing, and shot apart like repelling magnets.

"Don't worry; you'll forget everything that happened as soon as we leave." Miri still had that smirk on her face.


Rhia and Miri arrived back at the Library, bearing the bad news that yet another Sue was on the loose.

"What's worse is that this Sue is a slasher Sue. She's completely willing to screw up canon pairings and stick people together that would normally never even think about getting together." Rhia sighed. "It didn't help that the relationship between Holmes and Watson was so close that it was easy to pair them together."

"You think she'll make another appearance sometime soon?" Tash asked.

"Yeah. She was only about level four in this fandom, so she's gonna want to get stronger as soon as she can."

"Right." Tash crossed her arms, and attempted to place some sort of authority on her face. It didn't work. "Well, you know what this means."



"Awwwww…" Rhia whined.

"If you don't do it now, it'll just breed and multiply and then you'll really have to do it."

"Yeah, yeah, I know."

Five minutes later…

"Oh my God, when did the paperwork grow legs?"

Monday, February 18, 2013

Insert Really Difficult and Complex Written Test Here

"You're late," Michael sighed. "Both of you."

"Sorry baby," Claire gave him a kiss on the cheek, but it did not hide the look on her face, which mirrored that of Miriku. Both of them looked as though they had just seen a demon, which put everyone in the briefing room immediately on edge. Michael placed his hands on his hips.

"What did you do?" he looked between his girlfriend and his sister accusingly.

"Nothing!" they both answered in unison.

"I was just walking along, minding my own business," Miri began. "When suddenly..."


"Get away from me with those things Clairey!"

Miri ran for her life down the corridor, jumping over discarded piles of books which threatened to thwart her escape attempt. Claire was equally nimble however, keeping close behind the redhead.

"Pleeeeease let me do your hair!" Claire begged, waving her hair straighteners madly. The plug had come free of her grasp, and was trailing on the floor behind her, clunking loudly against the wooden floorboards, and snagging stacks of books as it went past.

"No way!" Miri retorted, skidding on the carpet at the corner of the corridor, and almost flattening herself into the bookshelf. "You get those things away from me, or I'll..."

She never had a chance to finish, as Claire closed the gap between them and lifted the straighteners into attacking position. Miri's hair, which was windswept and messier than usual from her impromptu exercise, suddenly reared up of its own accord and seemed to bite down hard on the straighteners. Claire gave a shriek of surprise as her best pair of straighteners were wrenched from her grasp, and seemed to vanish into the frizzy mane.

For a moment, neither girl spoke. Then Miri's hysteria finally burst free.

"Holy shit! The Darkness was right!"


Michael edged slowly away from his sister, eyeing her hair with the upmost suspicion.

"So... after all this time..." Marcus summarised. "It turns out Miri's hair really is sentient?"

"Seems like it," Miri folded her arms and huffed. "What am I going to do? So far it's just eaten hair straighteners, my hairbrush, and my fork at breakfast this morning. But what if it starts eating furniture? Or people?"

"Hmm..." Valerie appeared with a tongue depresser and began poking the frizziness that was Miri's hair. "What we should be asking is, why has it only started doing it now?"

As she spoke, the hair seemed to rise up again and chomp its way clean through the tongue depresser. Valerie yanked her hands back out of reach, and several people in the briefing room screamed.

"Its aliiiiive! Its aliiiiiiiiiive!" Michael cried.

"Miri, you haven't had your hair cut since joining the Society, have you?" Valerie asked. Miri rolled her eyes.

"Correction. My mother won't let me have it cut. She wants me to donate it when its long enough."

"Maybe it got more sentient the longer it grew," Michael suggested.

"That's what I'm thinking," Valerie admitted. "And I hate to disappoint your mother Miri, but I think we're going to have to cut it."

To everyone's horror, a low, feral growl seemed to work its way from Miri's hair, and a few locks snapped towards the healer. She backed away hastily, and Miri impatiently grabbed her hair and began wrestling it into a pony tail.

"Okay, after this meeting, Phoenixia is cutting Miri's hair," Michael declared.

"Why Phoenixia?" Miri asked, before turning to the ex-hologram. "I mean, no offence, but why can't we just take a sword to it now?"

Several of the sword wielding agents, including Willie and Cristoph, backed away from her fearfully.

"Truthfully, Imoto-chan, none of us want to go near that thing," Michael admitted. "We value certain parts of our anatomy too much."

"Wimps," Phoenixia muttered. "Don't worry Miri, I'll show these boys how its done."

Having thrown her hair into a hasty braid, Miri sat down next to Claire, who patted her on the back comfortingly.

"Okay, so that just leaves Jess and Dave, who are late," Michael stated.

"Where are the leaders?" Claire asked curiously. The Chief Agent pulled a face.

"Well, that's something I need to warn you all about. They're going to be in a very foul mood when they get he-"

He was cut off as a plothole materialised into existence right in the centre of the table. Vaguely through the transdimensional space, the sound of childish music could be heard, along with what sounded suspiciously like a baby laughing.

And from within the plothole, stumbled two tellytubbies.

"Bollocks," the violet one said. "We lost the Sue!"

The pink one raised its arms, and pulled its head off, to reveal a disgruntled looking Harriet.

"Don't, say, a word," she warned the Society. She reached inside her suit for her cricket bat, to further enforce the threat, but it got caught under the neck of her costume. Tugging achieved nothing, except to overbalance her and send her tumbling off the table, straight into the leader's chair. The violet tellytubby removed her own head, and shook it at the leader.

"I told you wearing heels in a tellytubby costume was a bad idea, Hati," Tash sighed. Harriet blushed.

"You're both late," Michael cleared his throat and tried to wipe away the smile that was threatening to break out across his face. "But we're still missing Jess and Dave..."

He was interrupted once more by the door slamming open, and Jess stomping in. Behind her she dragged a ripped and torn piece of material, which several agents were horrified to see was in fact an American flag. The horror was only enforced by the fact that Leonard was being dragged along on his rear behind Jess, his teeth firmly attached to the material.

"You're late Jess," Michael informed her. The girl glared.

"Tough titties," she threw herself into her seat. Leonard shimmied up the table leg and settled in front of her, still nomming on the flag. Wisely, no one dared to take it away from him.

"Okay," Michael picked up a handful of files. "Well I think we can start without Dave. Rotas are here..."
The door slammed and Michael counted silently in his head to five.

"Sorry I'm late," Dave hurried in, and everybody turned to stare. The tall agent was covered from head to foot in dirt, and the archaeology tools on his belt were caked in it. A stack of thick books were clutched tightly under one arm, and had the similar look of being deposited in a ditch.

"The archaeology section buried me again," Dave explained, leaving muddy footprints behind him as he sank into his seat. "I've only just dug my way out..." He trailed off as he caught sight of the two leaders. "Do I want to know?"

"No," Harriet informed him, placing her tellytubby head on the table. "No you do not. Let's begin the meeting."

The door swung open again, and Michael, fed up with being interrupted, threw one of the files at the door. Aramayis dodged with ease, catching the projectile inches from his head.

"I do apologise," the Counter Guardian said, handing the file back. "I checked on Aster on my way down here."

"Any change?" Tash asked, trying to wedge the rear of her costume into her chair. Aramayis shook his head.

"I'm afraid not."

Everyone's faces fell.

"Stiff upper lip guys," Harriet finally said bracingly. "She'll be better soon." There was little conviction in her voice however. On the other side of the table, Chrys's lower lip wobbled, and tears picked up in her eyes. Ossa, who sat on her right hand side, patted her comfortingly on the shoulder, and gave her an encouraging smile.

"Okay, we'll keep this meeting short, since we've got a large group of rookies to invigilate," Michael promised. "Files and reports are here. Pass them round to whoever they belong to. Those on monitor duty, keep an eye out for any Sue on our high alert list. That includes Sovereigns, Runoa and Lisa, and remember, get a leader as soon as one of them crops up."

"We have a huge intake of applicants for the Society right now," Tash warned everyone. "So there will be written tests twice a week now instead of once a week. Anyone who's invigilating, please make sure you stress just how dangerous this is getting. And watch especially for any Original Characters – a lot of our recent applicants qualify as Sues."

"Who's invigilating today's exam?" Valerie asked. She was almost always busy on days when the Society ran written tests for the rookies, since Harriet, Tash and Michael had a habit of dramatising the event and making the rookies faint in terror.

"I am," Michael waved a hand. "Tash is too."

"Oooh can I come?" Dave asked, having peered over Tash's shoulder to read the list of applicant's names. "Tash and I know two of these people."

"Sure, but may I suggest you shower and change your clothes first?" Tash leaned as far away as she could. "You smell like a compost heap..."

"As you wish, Madam Leader," Dave saluted.

"Hey! I'm the Leader, thank you very much!" Harriet reminded him huffily. Dave bowed his head towards her.

"And a wonderful, and talented one at that," he added quickly.

"Any AOBs?" Michael swiftly interjected, sensing that if Dave continued he may dig himself into a hole he couldn't get out of.

"Yes, we've got one," Emily said timidly, before a poke in the side from Charis pushed her to her feet. She blushed heavily but continued none the less.

"Charis and I have finished working out the bugs for the new holographic training program. We're holding tutorials on how to use it after lunch, and before dinner. If anyone wants to come along, you're welcome."

She sat down again quickly, and Harriet patted her head proudly.

"Phoenixia, add that tellytubby Sue to high alert, will you?" the leader asked, getting to her feet as carefully as she could. "I'm going to bed."

"Time for tubby-bye-bye," Tyler quipped.

Everyone ducked under the table as something round and heavy shot through the air and embedded itself into the wall, half an inch from Tyler's ear. When the dust and chips of concrete settled, it was revealed to be a cricket ball.

"Basement duty," Harriet barked. "Three weeks!"

The shorter agent pouted, as Harriet stomped out of the room. As the rest of the Society made to gather up their things, Tyler pried the cricket ball from the crater in the wall, and chomped down on it like an apple.


"The leaders are coming!"

The newbie who had been peering down the corridor curiously, hurried back to huddle of nervous looking authors. Most of them had gone three shades paler at the warning, however there were several people who did not look worried. A young man with black hair that looked dark blue in the right light, who merely looked bored with the waiting, and two girls, one who was grinning excitedly, and the other who was hunched over a notebook, scribbling furiously.

"Alice, put the notebook away," the grinning girl ordered. "Your novel will wait for an hour while we take this test."

"Yes mother."

One of the huddling rookies, whispered curiously. "What do you think the Society leaders will be like? I've heard they're scary..." Several people shrugged. It was clear none of them had prepared very well for this, and the girl who had ordered Alice to put her notebook away grinned wider.

"Well before they do anything they'll have to get over having their ribs crushed, because I can guarantee the second they enter the room-"

"ITS A TASHY!" the excited scream made everyone cover their ears, including the three Society members that had just stepped over the threshold.

The fact that Tash's instinctive reaction to this greeting was to slide one leg back to brace herself, and tense every muscle in her body, was a testament to the force of the glomp that now crashed into her. There was a long silence as the leader had the air forced from her lungs...and then she finally managed to choke words out.

"Alice... release... release!" she managed to gasp out, and fortunately, the command was followed. Tash staggered away massaging her ribs. Alice, who was a good six inches shorter than Tash, grinned madly, and pushed her glasses on straight again.

"Its a Dave!" she squealed again, making a run for the skinny young man, who paled and tried to hide behind Michael. Before Alice could make it to him however, her friend stepped in her path, and pressed one hand on her forehead. With a command of "sleep", Alice's head fell onto her chest and she became totally peaceful. Dave emerged, looking flustered.

"Thank you Louise." The girl just shrugged.

"Not a problem."

Tash pinched both girl's cheeks. "Well, look what Cthulhu dragged in! I thought you two would never get around to applying."

She unzipped her bag to pull out the exam papers. "And you're just in time for the new and improved litmus test!"

Alice grinned madly. Louise however, was watching Michael, who was studying the rest of the rookies with a critical eye.

"Hey!" he whined. "They frightened the newbies! That's my job!"

"We're sorry," Alice hung her head. Tash reached over and plucked Alice's blue headband off her head.

"No you're not," she declared. "Wargs live to scare the locals, no matter what dimension we're in."

"Gimmie back my fuzz layer!" Alice flapped her hands anxiously, before making a grab for the headband.

"See what I mean?"

"Alright, don't we have a test to run?" Dave reminded her. Tash snapped her fingers and casually tossed the headband to Louise, who added it to her own head.

"Greetings Rookies," the Librarian spread her arms in a wide and welcoming pose. "You have chosen to join our cause to rid the multiverse of Mary-Sues that have gone in off the deep end..." She gave them all a pitying look. "What the hell were you thinking?"

Several rookies laughed nervously, the rest just looked unsure of themselves.

"My name is Tash," the aforementioned began rustling through the exam papers. "I'm Society leader and Librarian, so any misbehaving in this building will be punished by me... and I punish harshly." She fixed them all with a deadly look, and one rookie at the back fainted in terror. The leader sighed.

"There's always one..." she muttered, as Michael rang for Valerie to come and assist. "Anyway, this is Michael. He's Chief Agent and will probably be ordering most of you around when I or Harriet are not present." She pointed to the final member. "And this is Dave. He's here to laugh at you all, and make bad puns since this is the one place in the Library that Shirley the Cliché Stick cannot come and maul him."

A young girl at the front of the group fainted into the arms of the person behind her, and another male author muttered. "Cliché... stick?" before his eyes rolled back and he joined her.

"Hold on!" Dave held up his hands. "Shirley can't get me here?"

Tash paused in ruffling papers. "It's a closed exam hall, Dave. Of course she can't get you in here. You can make all the bad puns you want."

Dave's smile stretched from ear to ear, and he rubbed his hands together. "That's pun-believable!"

Everyone groaned, and Alice seized Dave's arm and began trying to nom on it. "I kill you now," she muttered in explanation.

"Alice, you can't eat him, there's no meat on him," Louise reminded patiently. Disappointed, Alice released Dave, and fell back into the line of rookies.

"Thank you Alice, you have served the appropriate pun-ishment."

"Dave, stop or I will separate your soul from your body in the most painful way I can think of and feed it to Shirley," Tash warned.

"Which one?" Dave asked.


"I've got two soles," Dave pointed to his feet. "Which one would you like to feed to Shirley?"

Another groan came from the entire room, and Tash prodded him in the side with the rolled up exam papers.

"We'll feed one to Shirley, and one to Cthulhu," Michael suggested. "How does that sound?"

"Perfect," the Librarian declared. "Now on with the rookies."

"You're on the rookies?" a female voice enquired saucily. "Sounds kinky. Can I join in?"

"Hi Phoenixia," Tash didn't look up from issuing the exam papers. "Fainted ones are on the floor."

"I thought you were doing Miri's hair?" Michael asked. The ex hologram shrugged, causing the already tight nurses outfit she wore to strain with the movement.

"I am. I left her tied to the chair. I'll be back to finish the job once I'm done moving the bodies."

She winked at the new faces in the room. There were several thuds, as three of the male entrants joined the rookies on the floor, swooning and sporting bloody noses. Tash rolled her eyes.

"Men..." she muttered, as Phoenixia bent over to pick up the first rookie, and the young woman by her side fainted in sheer delight. "Or not," the leader corrected herself. Michael took the papers from her and prepared to hand them out.

"Alright, before we begin this test, we need to talk seriously," he said, his hands on his hips. "This is a dark time for the Society. We're being targeted by an incredibly powerful group of Sues and Stus known as the Sovereigns. The weakest of their group critically injured over half of our agents, when we engaged him in combat. Not four months ago..." he swallowed hard. "We lost our most powerful member when the Library was attacked. And we've got an enemy Society who have already proved that they're not above killing us in order to help Mary-Sues."

Tash busied herself with the giant clock, so that she didn't have to look at anyone. Michael paused for a breath, and his eyes seemed to fix on every rookie in the room.

"So this is your last chance. If you fail the test today, we'll wipe your memories and send you back – to real life, if you're a self insert, or to your home world if you're an original character. You won't remember a thing. But if you pass, there is no turning back. You could very easily be the next victim."

Another rookie fainted, collapsing backwards into the arms of the dark blue haired rookie, who looked nonplussed by the warning. Alice and Louise had both stopped grinning, their faces now one hundred percent grave with the seriousness of the situation.

"Does anyone want to go home?" Michael asked. No one moved, and the leader began handing the papers out.

"You have an hour," Tash said, finally turning around from the clock. "You may begin."

It was easy to tell which rookies were serious writers – they were the ones that had their own pencils and pens on their person. Several rookies however shuffled nervously over to the prepared ones and began to beg for writing implements. Alice and the blue haired young man both had spares, and so it was a good five minutes before they could actually sit down and begin writing themselves. By this time, the fainted rookies had been placed on stretchers and Phoenixia had left with them, locking the door behind her.

Unfortunately Michael and Tash were not making terribly good invigilators. Both had brought their DS's and their newly purchased copies of Pokemon SoulSilver, and were not interested in much else. Thus it was left to Dave to pace around the room, weaving between the rookies and ensuring that no one was cheating.

All was going well, until fifteen minutes into the exam, when a series of light footsteps resounded from the corridor outside the exam hall. Dave coughed, and most of the rookies got back to work. A bunch of them screamed however as a vicious scratching noise came from the other side of the door, like a set of claws behind scraped back and forth across the wood.

"Wow..." Michael muttered, not looking up from his DS. "She must be hungry if she found you this quickly Dave."

"What is that?" one of the rookies sounded utterly terrified.

"Its just Shirley," Tash assured everyone. "Don't worry abo- Dave! Get out of there!"

She had looked up from her DS to see the air vent cover lying discarded on the floor beside a stack of chairs, and Dave's long skinny legs flailing madly as he tried to pull himself all the way into the vent shaft. Michael, helpful as ever, put his DS down, got to his feet, seized one of Dave's legs and pulled hard. The poor man slid backwards and landed face first on the floor.

"Oww..." he groaned.

"Sorry mate," Michael shrugged. "I guess I should have warned you."

"I fell on my keys..." Dave moaned, rolling over and extracting the aforementioned offenders, along with a pen and his deck box. Several people winced.

"Ouch..." Tash muttered. "Do you want to go see Valerie?"

Dave paled. "I'm not going anywhere near that door!" he pointed at said entrance, which was still taking a beating from the Cliché Stick's formidable claws.

"Suit yourself," Tash shrugged. Michael went back to his seat, before noticing something.

"What are you all staring at?" he asked the rookies, before pointing at the clock. "You've only got another thirty five minutes!"

The frantic sound of scribbling returned to the room, accompanied by the sounds of Tash and Michael tapping their stylus against the DS screen.

Dave meanwhile, rummaged in his bag. He hadn't brought his axe with him, as it was still covered in dirt from his mishap in the archaeology section earlier, and he hadn't had a chance to clean it yet. He was utterly defenceless. As the cracking and snapping sound of large chips of wood being ripped from the door joined the scratching noises from earlier, Dave seized his thick archaeology texts and stacked them against the door like a barricade, before hurrying to fetch some of the unused chairs to enforce it.

Tash looked up, rolled her eyes, and went back to her game. She knew, and Dave must have known too, that it would take more than that to stop a hungry, pissed off Cliché Stick.

The minutes dragged on, with Shirley's assault getting louder and progressively more violent sounding. Tash and Michael were finding it hard to concentrate on their games, and the equally distracted rookies were starting to look pale and terrified beyond measure. After a further ten minutes of this, Michael finally snapped his DS shut, got to his feet once more, and strode to the door.

"Shirley!" he yelled through the wood. "Keep it down! We've got an exam in here!"

"You've also got a Scotsman in there who I want a word with!" Shirley barked back. "I'm keen to be personally introduced to his intestines!"

"Thanks Shirley... you just rendered two rookies comatose..." Michael sighed, seeing two of the pale figures slump to the floor in a dead faint.

"And Dave isn't a Scotsman!" Tash added. "He's from Carlisle!"


Michael backed away from the door, as the heavy brass lock was ripped clean from the wood. He could just see the Cliché Stick hopping around angrily through the hole that now decorated the door. The chief agent whistled.

"Wow Dave, you pissed her off good..."

Everyone turned, expecting to see Dave at one end of the room working himself into a panic. What they saw instead was four miniature helicopters, winching Dave up towards the air vent. On the ground, several members of the LPGB were coordinating the complex looking mission. Strangely enough, now that they were all paying attention, they could hear the music from the Great Escape coming through the helicopters' speakers.

"Nice to meet you all!" he waved to the rookies, before looking up to the front most helicopter. "General, get me out of here!"

"Yes sir!" came a voice from inside the copter, followed by the static of a tiny radio. "Admiral Jared. We are returning with the package!"

As Dave vanished into the air vent, they all heard him asking curiously. "Am I biodegradable?"

Michael and Tash groaned in unison.

"At least he wasn't quoting war movies to make the LPGB happy," Tash muttered, as Dave's best Scottish accent floated back down the vent shaft for them all to hear.

"She may take my liver, but she will never take my freedom!"

The rookies all covered their ears as though the words had caused them pain. The leaders exchanged looks, before Michael got out his communicator.

"Valerie? Could you prepare the Cliché Stick treatment ward please? I think Dave is going to need it..."


"Fail," Michael flipped the paper facedown onto the large pile that had formed on his desk. "Next..."

His eyes began scanning the next exam paper.

"...I don't think this person wrote in English..." Tash muttered, holding the paper up to the light, as though it would magically become legible from a different angle. "Auto fail. I can't be bothered to decipher it." She picked up the next one. "Auto fail. This person got question one wrong."

"Isn't that a bit harsh?" Claire asked, entering with a plate of crumpets. "You don't think you should check the other answers?"

"Not really," Tash stated. "Question one is, "What is your name?"."

Claire blinked. " do you get that question wrong?"

Tash held up the paper for her to see, and Claire's eyes widened.

"Huh... some people really are stupid," she said.

"Pass," Michael declared, before checking the name. "Hey, its Louise's paper Tash."

"Yay!" Tash gave a cheer. "More Limey's for the cause!"

She and Claire high fived, and Michael anxiously reached for the microphone on his desk.

"Attention all American Society agents," he announced, the microphone magically projecting his voice throughout the entire Library. "The Limey's are starting to outnumber us! Recruit more American's for the cause!"

He gave a yelp as Claire sat on his lap, wedged a crumpet into his mouth, and wrestled the microphone from his grasp.

"Disregard that previous announcement!" she ordered. "Continue recruiting as normal!"

"God save the queen, what what!" Tash interjected in the most posh accent she could manage. She took the microphone, stacked it between two books, and went back to the exam papers. Claire took a bite out of the end of crumpet that wasn't wedged into her boyfriend's mouth.

"Thanks for holding my crumpet, baby," she giggled, patting him on the cheek. Michael chewed and swallowed.

"Oww... my pride..." he groaned, before getting up from his seat and picking Claire into his arms. "I must restore it!"

"Put me down!" Claire protested, but Michael was already out of the door. Tash blinked at the spot they had been sitting at, before leaning casually over to Michael's desk, pulling the lower drawer open, and reaching for the bar of chocolate that she knew to be under the papers.

"Get your hand out of there, Aneki!"

Tash hastily slammed the drawer shut and went back to her exams. She passed the next paper (Alice), before starting the last one.

"Aww those poor little fainted rookies," Phoenixia giggled as she entered the room, her nurses outfit seeming to have got tighter since that morning. She was also carrying a bag over one shoulder. "So innocent and unaware of the naughty things I had planned for them..."

"Phoenixia what have I told you about screwing the rookies?" Tash asked, without looking up from her current paper.

"Absolutely nothing," Phoenixia said after a moment of thinking.

"Exactly," the leader chewed anxiously on her pen. "Because, I shouldn't have to tell you not to molest them."

The ex-hologram sighed, and shed her nurses' dress, not caring or even enjoying the fact that Tash was in the room and the door was slightly ajar. "I know. I know. Don't worry. Most of them would probably faint upon seeing me naked, and that would be a waste." She fished in her bag for a new set of clothes, but paused as she realised that Tash had stopped moving.

"Tashy?" Phoenixia placed a hand on the leader's shoulder, which seemed to snap her out of her daze.

"Merdre..." Tash hissed, dropping the exam and diving into her bag for her communicator.

"Since when have you sworn in French?" Phoenixia asked curiously.

"Since my holiday which didn't feel like a holiday last week," Tash answered absently, dialling as fast as she could. "Harriet, Michael, we have a code ten, I repeat, a code ten. Report to Michael's office immediately."

Phoenixia seized the exam paper from where it had landed on the floor, and handed it back to Tash immediately – code ten was Society-speak for an applicant who had failed the Litmus test in such a way that indicated that they themselves were Mary-Sues. The Litmus questions had been introduced after Willowe had managed to pass her way in all those months ago.

Harriet burst in through the door, accompanied by a flash of bright light from her automatic lightning generator (now in handy pocket size!). Her eyes passed over Tash, immediately registering the anxious look on her friend's face, and then over Phoenixia, who was still completely naked, and accessing the Library's computer system.

"What have we got?" she asked. Tash slapped the paper down on the table just as Michael and Claire walked in. Both of them screeched to a halt, and Michael threw his hands up in front of his face.

"Phoenixia! Put some clothes on! This is like, the millionth time!"

The hologram rolled her eyes. "Oh honestly! It's always the American's being prudes. None of the British agents in this room even looked twice when they came in!"

"I did," Claire raised a hand. "I just wasn't going to say anything."

"And we just don't care," Harriet poked her friend in the side. "Let me see this paper..." She pulled a face at the name.

"Astron Ganera," she butchered the pronunciation. "Sounds weird."

"It sounds made up," Phoenixia corrected.

"I can't believe we didn't notice this guy before," Tash was muttering. "Michael, this guy is basically a Bleach fanboy's wish fulfilment. He seems to have mastered all the ability's and powers from the fandom."

Michael now registered the guy with the black/almost dark blue hair from earlier; how he had seemed too relaxed and sure of himself, and how he had not seemed to react to the warning about how dangerous the Society was getting.

"Y'know," he muttered. "For all that we're protectors of the multiverse, we do fail at this whole "spotting the intruders" malarkey..."

"Got him!" Phoenixia muttered, her fingers flying over Michael's laptop, which was the single computer in the leader's office. "Dark haired guy, currently sitting by himself looking cool and aloof in the rookies waiting room."

The screen showed the nine rookies that had lasted until the end of the exam without fainting or passing out. Four were huddled nervously off to one side, comparing their answers in quiet, hushed tones. Louise and Alice had a stack of plastic cones in front of them, and appeared to be playing a spirited round of Treehouse. Another rookie was reading one of the books from the shelf, and another girl was twirling her hair between her fingers and eyeing up the dark blue haired guy, who had his feet up on another chair. His head was tilted back towards the ceiling, in a manner that made him look untouchable.

"Bloody hell," Michael muttered. "How did we not notice that?" He blinked. "Wait a second Phoenixia. Did you just hook my laptop up to the Library's computer system in under thirty seconds?"

The woman in question folded her arms proudly. "I may have a physical body now, but I still am the computer system. I can make this thing do whatever I want."

"Yeah, speaking of physical body," Tash said. "Can you put some clothes on please Phoenixia? Much as I'm enjoying the show, the sight of your chest isn't doing much for my own self confidence."

As Phoenixia reluctantly pulled on something more appropriate, Emily skidded into the room, her bag over one shoulder, the contents on the verge of flying out.

"Harriet said you had a code ten?" she asked. "I brought you Prohibitors, and a Memory Bomb for the other rookies." She blinked. "Why is Phoenixia in her underwear?"

"Don't ask," Claire advised her.


"Ready?" Tash kept her voice low. Michael was spinning the key to the door before them in his hand, and Claire kept fiddling with the Memory Bomb in her pocket, as though worried it would vanish.

"I'm in the room, standing by," Harriet confirmed. "Bring them in."

Tash, Michael and Claire exchanged nods, before Michael unlocked the door and pushed it open. All nine of the rookies looked up.

"Could Alice, Louise and Astron come with us please?" Tash asked. "The rest of your will be seen by Claire."

Claire gave her sweetest smile to the rookies, and several of them relaxed. She was certainly less frightening than the leaders. Alice and Louise exchanged worried looks, while Astron just looked relaxed and cool as he had done since entering the building.

Michael led them through to the next room, where, unbeknown to any of them, Harriet waited, concealed behind the door, her cape attempting to blend her in with the wall. She didn't move a muscle as the three rookies kept their attention on Michael and Tash.

"Did we fail?" Louise asked nervously. Tash grinned.

"No, quite the contrary. You all passed."

The two girls cheered and hugged each other tightly, while Astron just smiled as if to say "of course". In the shadows, Harriet took a deep breath and began to inch forwards.

"He's at the back of the group..." she thought, gripping the Prohibitor tightly. "Perfect. Now if I can just get close enough..."



And Harriet was smothered in a patented Alice Hug. The new recruit had spotted her out of the corner of her eye, and shot at top speed towards her. Harriet flailed dramatically, the Prohibitor waving in her outstretched hand, before she lost her grip and it was flung across the room, landing at Tash's feet.

"Bollocks!" the Librarian shouted. "Alice! Let go of our leader!"

Even as a confused Alice released Harriet from her crushing embrace, it was too late. A jet black katana appeared from nowhere and sliced cleanly through the Prohibitor. It separated into two neat halves, and lay useless on the floor. Astron stood over it, sword in hand, an accusing look on his face. Michael and Tash drew their own weapons equally fast.

"You made a mistake taking out test, Stu," Michael hissed.

"I'm not a Stu!" Astron protested, levelling his katana at the leaders. "Everyone thinks I am, but I am not! I'm an original character-"

"An original character, who looks like his author, but who's powers, abilities and attitude is based entirely off a canon character," Tash interjected. "You're a fanboy imitation! You're what your author wants to be! Someone with superhuman powers, and no flaws, just like the hero you're based off. That makes you a Gary-Stu."

"That's not true!" the more he protested however, the weaker Astron's voice seemed to become. "I'm an original character! I know I am!"

"We're not going to put you in the basement," Harriet finally regained enough breath to speak. She didn't have her cricket bat on hand, so she was focusing instead on keeping herself between the Stu, and Alice and Louise, who were struggling to keep up with what was happening. "We're going to seal off your powers so you can't ever become a threat, then we'll send you back to your author with a warning."

"No!" the young man sounded more terrified than angry now. "You can't Prohibit me! I'm not a Gary-Stu!"

"You are a Gary-Stu!" Michael shouted impatiently. "Despite whatever your author may have told you, you are! And the sooner you accept that, the happier you will be."


The zanpakuto came swinging down again, but Michael was fast enough to block the blow, which would have otherwise cut his throat open. The force behind the blow was crushing, and Michael mentally swore as the blade of his sword was sliced cleanly in two. On instinct, Michael turned his body against the blow, and the sword cut straight across his shoulder. Blood soaked into his shirt.

"Damn it... that was my last good sword." the injured leader thought, as he fell to his knees.

As Astron backed away from what he had done, he sensed motion behind him, as a figure blurred out of a flash step.

"I warned you," Tash whispered, Nephthys aflame in her hand. "I punish harshly." Her flaming sword impacted on Astron's hasty block, flame licking at the youth's body as the force of Tash's blow slammed him across the room and into the wall, a nearby books shelf toppling and sending books spilling to the floor.

Astron regained himself quickly, jumping out of the hole his body had made, thrusting a hand forward and lighting leapt from his fingertip, searing the air as it lanced straight towards the British leader. She was already moving, however, flash-stepping away it the lighting passed harmlessly through the air. She reappeared right next to Astron, who lashed out with a sword slash, but Tash easily deflected it, driving her own sword into the floor and lashing out with an impressive kick that caught Astron under his chin and snapped his head back.

"This is over." Tash grabbed her sword, yanking it free from the ground as she whirled on her heel, the hilt of her sword slamming into his temple. Astron dropped to the ground like a bag of wet cement, out like a light.

"Valerie, we need you!" Harriet was shouting down her communicator. "Michael has been injured."

"Relax," Michael grunted, pulling himself up. "Its just a flesh wound."

"Don't care, you're getting it seen to," Harriet was firm. "Tash..."

"I'm on him," Tash said, parking herself onto the Stu's back, and clasping a Prohibitor around his wrist. "That should keep him down for a bit. At least till someone heavier gets here."

"Everything okay?" Phoenixia poked her head in, along with Valerie. The healer raced straight to Michael (who was protesting loudly that he was fine, and it was just a scratch), while Tash jabbed a finger at Phoenixia.

"You'll do. Sit on him for me, would you?"

"What exactly happened?" Louise was brave enough to ask.

"We lied," Harriet stated. "He didn't pass the exam. He failed a Litmus test questions." She placed her hands on her hips and faced Alice. "And may I say Alice, you've set a new Society record for botching an arrest? Barely fifteen seconds after becoming a rookie, and you ruin the mission."

Alice's confusion morphed into a horrified expression. "Wait... was that what you were doing behind the door? ...oops..."

Rolling her eyes, Harriet responded by stealing Alice's headband.

"So what will you do with him now?" Louise asked. Harriet huffed.

"Send him back to his author, and tell them to look up the definition of Gary-Stu before they try again," she sighed. "Some people can be so stupid about their creations. So short sighted..."

"Two words Harriet," Phoenixia interrupted smartly. "Willowe Foxblade."

The leader blushed, and Phoenixia was forced to duck an incoming cricket ball. "Does this mean we can't sleep together tonight?"

Seconds later, the ex-hologram was dashing out of the room as Harriet chased after her, flinging cricket ball after cricket ball, somehow producing them from nowhere. "And I was going to let you be on top, too!"

Tash just watched them go and facepalmed.


In a random bedroom, somewhere in Real Life, a young author was seething as he read the text on the computer screen before him.

"They rejected him..." he muttered. "They're just like everyone else. Calling him a Stu...they're wrong. They're just jealous. They're all jealous of my characters!"

In a fit of anger, an arm swept across the desk, and sent stacks of paperwork, and a pot of pencils flying. The pot smashed into fragments of china, and the pens clattered along the floor, marking the paperwork with random smudges of ink. The author's anger did not dissipate, despite the satisfaction that the destruction caused.

"They'll understand. I'll make them understand, what fools and hypocrites they all are."