Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Insert Inconsistent Timeline Here

"Look Alice," Louise was not in the mood for further discussion on the topic. She knew the fandom and she knew the Sue; and she was not prepared to put her best friend within Merle's reach.

"I took you into a fandom" Alice was not backing down. She and Louise, whilst being the best of friends, were both as stubborn as mules when it came to giving in. "You didn't know much about it..." she started

"Yeah, and if Michael and the others hadn't arrived, we'd probably not be standing here" Louise's temper was beginning to flare.

"Yeah, but I got through to the Space Marine Librarian all by myself" Alice's mouth did that little pout thing that she knew Louise could barely resist.

Louise merely poked her friend on the arm. "We got there at the point of a bolter, Alice. Not something I care to repeat." The quarrelling pair had reached the door to the Monitor Room, and continued bickering as Louise pushed it open.

"This is a different fandom," Alice's protests were reaching up an octave, "and you know this one like the back of your hand"

In the room, Tash, Dave and Michael were watching this exchange.

"Yes! And so does Merle. She is more at home in the LOK fandom than in the majority of others..."

Tash decided that now was a good time to step in and break up the warring pair.

"Look at you two," she laughed, "Bickering like a married couple"

Louise fell silent, and Alice glared playfully at her friend across the room. It took a couple of seconds for Tash's comment to sink in,

"HEY! I resent that statement..." Alice's literary mind whizzed for a suitably appropriate word. She settled on, "... blondie!"

Everyone watched Tash to see her reaction. She merely smiled, walked alongside the rookie agent, and dope slapped her. Alice placed a hand on the back of her head.

"Oww" Alice's pathetic voice was almost laughable. Everyone knew Tash hadn't hit her hard, so they all laughed at Alice's mock indignation.

The Librarian turned back to Louise, but before she could give out the mission to her, Alice threw her arms around the petite woman, picked the poor girl off the floor, spun her around and not so delicately placed her back on the floor.

"Euurrr" Tash's legs wobbled and she collapsed into a chair, swiftly produced by Michael. "My life flashed before my eyes"

"D'you see anything good?" Dave asked in his broad Northern accent.

"Lots and lots of Snotlings" Tash commented dryly.

Dave and Michael all looked confused. Louise and Alice, however, snorted with laughed. Snotlings were a group of Real Life helpers at the girls' recent gaming competition, and there had been many bad puns created in their wake. All concerned were grateful Shirley could not reach them in the Real World.

Once Alice and Louise had laughed themselves into exhaustion, Tash gingerly got to her feet and began pushing buttons. She spoke as she did so,

"As you are aware, Louise's most recent fandom unearthed a possible high level Sue in the form of Merle Ravensclaw in the Stargate universe. Whilst I would not usually send a rookie against such a Sue, Louise has explained to me the background she has with Merle, and she is, at present, the person best placed to bring this Sue down."

Alice opened her mouth to protest, but held her tongue at the sight of Tash's upraised finger.

"But from what she has told me of this fandom, Merle is going to be a lot more powerful here than when we last encountered her." Louise nodded meekly in confirmation. "This means that I am not sending you in by yourself." Tash's statement hit home with finality.

"YES!" Alice's inappropriately timed outburst caused heads to turn.

"But Tash..." Louise began to protest,

"No, Louise. Listen to me. From what you have told me, Merle is dangerous, possibly more dangerous than even you know. Who knows what she has picked up? It is not as if she's..."

"Yes, Tash... I get the picture."

"So..." Alice walked up and placed a one-armed glomp around Louise's shoulder. The agent winced at her friend's strength.

"So...?" Louise prompted when Alice didn't continue her comment,

"So, what's this fandom like then?" Alice's assumption that she would take her into Nosgoth caused Louise to push Alice away. She seized the Librarian by the arm, and hauled her out of the room and into the corridor. Michael watched, knowing Tash was in no danger. Dave chuckled under his breath. Alice merely giggled, pulled her notebook from her bag and began jotting things down.

Outside in the corridor, Louise was begging Tash to stop Alice coming into the Legacy of Kain fandom with her.

"Tash, this mission calls for stealth and tact, and those are the exact things Alice is lacking. If she says something without thinking, it could end up worse than the 40K fandom." Louise thought for a second, wanting to say something else, but knowing it was very much below the belt. "One of us may not return."

Tash grasped the rookie by the wrist. Louise winced; the Librarian was stronger than she looked.

"That was low, Louise... very low."

"I'm sorry Tash, but I am worried what will happen if Alice comes with me"

"Louise..." Tash's voice was low and full of authority. "Of course I don't want to lose anyone else, but I think you are more concerned about people finding out about your dealings with Merle, rather than the safety of the mission." Louise went to protest but couldn't. Tash was right, she knew it; the path she had walked with Merle was not something she wanted the entire Society knowing about, not yet in the very least. "See, I'm right, aren't I?"

Louise nodded.


Having left Tash and the others in the Monitor Room scanning for Sue-infected fandoms, Louise decided to fill Alice in on the Legacy of Kain fandom, so that, when they eventually entered it, she would have some idea of what she would face.

After about an hour of listening to Louise drone on about the background to the fandom, and how the varying races on Nosgoth had come to be in the current political and social positions, Alice had almost fallen asleep.

"ALICE!" Louise's voice cut into that pre-sleep realm. Alice jerked her head up.

"I'm awake, I'm awake" she murmured. Louise wasn't fooled.

"You fell asleep. Please try to stay conscious Alice. Some of the things I am telling you will probably save your life if things go wrong."

"I know, but all you've been telling me is about the beginnings of the world. I and the reader (the fourth wall rattled ominously) don't need to know that."

Louise sighed. "Fine, what do you want to know?"

"Who are we likely to run into?" Alice knew a little from watching Louise play on her Playstation2, but the intricacies of the fandom were still lost to her.

"Probably Kain... maybe Raziel..."

"Oooo," Alice interrupted, "can I glomp them?"

"NO!" Louise near enough shouted, "Alice, you do not GLOMP vampires!"

"Vampires..." Alice groaned, "They're not going to be all sparkly, are they?"

"Hell no!" Louise retorted, although the thought of Kain sparkling in the sun did bring a slight smile to her mouth. The smile dropped as the prospect of entering the fandom crossed her mind again. She was nervous, but wasn't about to let it show to Alice.

"Good!" Alice wasn't a fan of the Twilight fandom, unlike Louise, and didn't think twice about telling people what she thought of the vampires, werewolves and other canon characters located within.

"Alice, these vampires are not vegetarian. If we piss them off, they will kill us." This was something Louise had been trying to get across to her friend for the past hour or so.

"Then why the hell isn't it a black listed fandom?" The same thought had crossed Louise's mind not too long previously.

"I don't know. I don't think Tash knows the fandom, and if it isn't on the black list now, you can bet Adrian didn't know about it."

There was a knock on Louise's office door, and Tash peered into the room.

"Ah, there you two are," she didn't appear to have been looking for long. "Are you going into the Legacy of Kain fandom or not?"

"I'm just briefing Alice on what to expect" Louise got up from her chair and, with a gentle poke at Alice, followed the Librarian from the room.

"You going in those clothes" Tash glanced down. Louise was still wearing her smart trousers; shirt and entry pass from a day at work.

"Oh crap!" she grabbed Alice by the arm. "We need different clothes. Alice, you certainly can't go into Nosgoth still wearing your pyjamas."

Tash listened to the agents argue again as Louise dragged her friend along the corridor. It was almost laughable. She knew Alice and Louise were best friends, but they always seemed to rub each other up the wrong way whenever they were together.


"So, what are we wearing this time?" Alice asked as the two agents entered the cavernous wardrobe.

"Well, we can't go too high-class, so you'll have to leave your cloak behind."

"What? I love this cloak" Alice waved the light blue fabric with gold trimming in Louise's face.

"Alice! We are going as peasants. That way we are less likely to arouse suspicion," she threw Alice's cloak into a heap in the corner.

"You have no respect for fine fabrics, Louise" Alice rushed to collect it.

"Neither do you..." Louise retorted, "I've seen your bedroom."

"Quit nagging me woman! You're not my mother"

"Be thankful for it" came Louise's quip as she pulled a medieval-style outfit from one of the racks. "Here, try this on" she threw the clothes at Alice.

Alice ducked behind a nearby screen. She didn't care whether Phoenixia saw anything, but Louise was her housemate. In the meantime, the other agent removed a second outfit, and slipped into it. When Alice poked her head around the screen to check whether her friend was decent, Louise was already dressed in a red version of Alice's skirt and top combination.

Alice stepped around the divide. The brown skirt and top – typical of your fantasy wench – was accented with a sash; trim and corset of blue.

"Hey," Alice gasped in mock surprise, "We match"

"Very funny" Louise prodded her friend. "Come on, Tash will be waiting for us."


The Librarian was indeed waiting for them, with the door held open,

"Come on you two..." Tash tapped her foot. Michael too was waiting for them.

Alice and Louise ran as best they could in their costumes into the Monitor Room. The red skirted agent's shoe caught on the hem, and she fell sprawling on the floor. Alice laughed, but Michael helped Louise to her feet.

"Thanks" she blushed slightly.

"Now," Tash called from the controls, "you are going into the Legacy of Kain fandom. Louise, I believe you know a little about it." The agent nodded. "Please try not to run afoul of anything this time..." Alice and Louise both blushed scarlet. Neither of them could forget their last joint mission, when they had required the assistance of two senior agents to bring in the Stu; a Stu who was now, thankfully, locked in the Library basement.

"We'll try not to," Louise promised Tash.

"Good," the Librarian didn't look overly convinced, "have fun..."


Now, the Legacy of Kain fandom is not your run-of-the-mill vampire fandom, nor is it populated with twinkly vampires that do not object to daylight. Nosgoth is a land of magic; sorcerers and a large amount of time travel. It is protected by the Circle of Nine, a group of sorcerers whose mission in life is to be guardians of the Pillars of Nosgoth. Each Pillar is aligned to a specific element and it is this element that each sorcerer focuses on. They functioned at a lock, keeping the demons out of the land, but now they were corrupted and crumbling. The lock is failing.

500 years prior to Alice and Louise's arrival, a group of warrior priests known as the Sarafan organised a purge of the vampire population. They were only stopped when the senior priests were murdered, and the Circle attacked. Now, with the Circle in the depths of madness following the Balance Guardian's murder, the vampire Kain attempts to restore balance to the land...


It was night when Alice and Louise arrived in Nosgoth. The two agents stood in a long dark chasm in the cliff. The moonlight filtered through the overhanging branches casting long, ominous looking shadows on the already gloomy floor. Around them, the bare rock face presented few openings for escape should anything, or anyone, come searching for them.

"So..." Alice was unusually cheerful, "now where?"

Before Louise could answer a scream shattered the stillness. Both girls jumped.

"I'm guessing that is not a good sign" Alice's face had gone pale.

Louise sighed. "I don't know what era we have landed in Alice. For all I know, that could be a pack of vampires on the hunt." Her friend gulped. "But," she put her hand on Alice's arm, "we need to go see. If this is an era with lots of vampires, I'm going to tell Tash that Merle is welcome to it because I'm not risking getting bitten for her. I'll just wait until she's in a less hostile fandom."

"The scream came from over that way" Alice pointed down the chasm, and it wasn't long before both girls were tip-toeing along the path. They dodged the occasional long grass that crossed their route.

"Eurgh" Louise shivered at one point as she inadvertently walked through a path of the grass.

"Are you alright?" Alice asked

"Yeah... just felt as if someone walked over my grave,"

"And how the hell would you know what that feels like..."

"Oh shut up Alice. Let's keep moving."

After what felt like forever, but was in fact only 20 minutes of walking, Alice and Louise came to sheer drop which led into what initially looked like nothing but blackness.

"Woah" Louise grabbed her friend around the waist to prevent her plummeting to her death. Alice, realising this, threw her arms around her housemate.

"Thank you," Alice's voice was breathless from the shock of the event. She held the fellow agent tight, until a voice from the darkness drew their attention.

"KEEP IN LINE YOU WHELP!" It was a female voice, and it made the hairs on the back of Louise's neck stand on end. She seized Alice by the shoulders and the two agents lay on the ground. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they could make out the shape of nine tall pillars standing on a dais above the surrounding land. On the dais were the speaker and her entourage.

"Merle?" Alice whispered, her eyes firmly glued on the female figure in the clearing,

"Oh yes..." Louise's eyes drifted to those people stood with her foe.

"Who are those people she's got with her?"

Louise's eyes roamed across the group. At the head, Merle was distinctive with the moonlight glittering on her steel armour. Following was a line of chained men and women, and at the rear stood...

"Oh my..." Louise started as she recognised the man.

"What?" Alice asked, "What is it?"

Louise's mouth formed the name but no sound came out. The jet black hair stood out against the man's pale skin. In fact, the only thing other than his exposed face that shone from his form was the sword hanging from the man's hip.

As the pair watched, the woman at the back of the chained line collapsed to the floor. Her hands grasped at the man's clothing, and her voice drifted up to the watchers on the cliff.

"Please... my Lord... please have mercy"

The man merely lifted the lady's fingers from his trousers and dropped her back down.

"NO!" the captive's piercing cry echoed off the pillars and surrounding rocks. Without so much as a vocal order, the shining sword swished through the air, and the woman screamed no more. A metallic thump told the two agents that the chain had been cut.

"GET MOVING" Merle's cold voice yelled from the front of the group, and the man at the rear gave a shove to the young child now standing at the back of the line of prisoners. The little girl fell to the floor as the line lurched forward, pulling the infant to her feet.

Alice and Louise watched the prisoner caravan move out of sight; both agents lying silently on the cliff. Neither of them had witnessed a death before, and definitely not in this gruesome fashion. Louise's hand snaked down and grasped her friend's, squeezing it tight for comfort. Alice silently returned the gesture. Once both of them had retrieved their stomachs, they sat up.

The grey light of dawn was turning the black chasm into a silvery-grey hued expanse. The Pillars came into sharper focus, and the two agents could see that they were blacken and cracked.

"Oh my... what happened there?" Alice asked

"Long story..." Louise wasn't prepared to launch into a full description of the events that led to the corruption of the Pillars, by the time she would have finished, Merle would have completely taken over the fandom, and there would be no hope left in Nosgoth. Alice, however, would not take no for an answer.

"But they're all..."

"Alice, we need to focus on catching Merle." Both agents' eyes fell on the neglected and discarded corpse of the young woman.

"What's going to happen to all those prisoners?" Alice's voice, whilst usually confident and occasionally arrogant, waivered a little as she gestured into the morning.

"I don't know..." Louise too had lost the normal timbre to her voice. She knew the fate likely awaiting those prisoners, the same fate that had befallen the innocent woman now lying dead on the ground below.

"Do not like..." her friend's voice was hollow, almost dead sounding.

The elder agent took her companion's shoulders. "Alice, we have to focus."

"Focus... right. Sue... needs squishing."

Both agents gazed at each other. Alice could see the glint of a tear in the corner of her friend's eye...

The both friends burst out laughing...

"Squishing... Alice? I think Merle is going to need more than a fly-swatter."


The two girls, having climbed into the clearing containing the Pillars, had followed Merle's careless trail through the woodland. Louise was nervous. She knew her quarry would not usually be so clumsy as to leave a well signposted route for the pair to follow. Alice, meanwhile, knowing little about the Sue they were pursuing, had perked up and was positively skipping along the trail.

"Alice... will you please calm down. Something feels wrong."

The agent knew her friend well enough to know when she was being serious, and when she was acting grown-up. She fell into step beside Louise.

"It's at times like this when I wish I hadn't insisted upon authenticity when we came here. I wish I had my pistol." Louise's hand patted her empty hip to indicate the lack of weapon.

Alice's hand wrapped around her sword, "I've still got this..." she tapped it.

"Don't rub it in, girl" Louise was bitter about her short-sightedness and hoped and prayed that it would not lead them into a battle that they could not win.

"You're worried, aren't you? Worried that we won't find her"

"Oh no, I'm perfectly confident that we can find her. It's whether we'll get out again."

The pair continued in the same vein until a shoreline came into view. Looking out over the water, the two agents stared in wonder at the large defensive structure towering over the other side of the lake.

"What's that?" Alice had to ask,

"Oh Lord, please tell me she hasn't gone in there." Louise wasn't listening to her friend.

"Hey..." the taller agent poked her companion. "What is that place?" she gestured towards the castle-like structure that stood before them.

"That's the Sarafan Stronghold." Louise's voice sounded dry and full of fear. Her eyes were wide.

"What's up?"

She didn't answer. Her eyes were glued on the Stronghold, and its overhanging balcony. As the pair watched, a figure emerged onto it. His skin shone green against the pale stone behind him. Louise gasped.

"What? Who is tha...?" Alice paused as she watched the figure on the balcony lean down and he launched a naked corpse over the edge of the balcony. The body landed with a splash and sank like a stone to the bottom of the lake. The two agents watched on in silence. When the whole episode was over, the figure on the balcony turned on his heel and retreated back into the building.

Louise collapsed against her friend, breathing heavily. "That..." she panted, "... that was Kain."

"KAIN!" Alice nearly screamed. Her friend hushed her quickly back into a whisper. "That was Kain?"

"If my knowledge of Nosgothic history is correct, a Kain from the future." Louise's teeth were gritted together. She knew Alice had watched her play the Legacy of Kain games enough to know what kind of threat Kain posed. "Let us hope that he hasn't brought anyone else from the future along. I, for one, don't particularly fancy running into Raziel or Moebius. What bothers me is why the hell he is in there."

Both agents knew very well that Kain, as a vampire, was the scourge of the Sarafan. None of the warrior priests would have hesitated in putting a sword in him. But Louise knew that only one Sarafan existed in the era they had ended up in, and he was in his bastion high in the mountains.

Whilst corpses and Kain were not mutually exclusive, what was bothering Louise was the fact that he was acting in such a casual and relaxed manner in the Stronghold of his most bitter enemies. She knew that the Stronghold may no longer be home to the Sarafan, but she also was aware that, as far as canon was concerned, the fortress was now home to Moebius' mob. A group of vampire hunters just a zealous as their predecessors centuries before. She hissed subconsciously.

"What?" Alice took her eyes from the balcony for the first time.

"He shouldn't be here..." Louise hissed through gritted teeth. This, like her previous mission into the Stargate fandom, was a favourite fandom of hers, and she hated to see the way that it had already been corrupted. "Merle..." this hiss was barely above a whisper, and came out more snake-like than anything Alice had heard from her before. She turned to look at her friend, but Louise's eyes were fixed on the Stronghold on the opposite bank of the lake.

"Then the sooner we get her the better" Alice's words echoed the thoughts swirling around inside her friend's head. Louise simply nodded; too angry to articulate an agreement. "Good..." Alice's cheerfulness are miraculously returned, "which way's the front door?"


It was quite a trek before the Stronghold came into view again, and Louise was beginning to worry about lack of food, water and shelter. "Dumpling?" she asked her friend affectionately, "did you bring any liquid or nom?" Alice shook her head sadly. The agent sighed.

It had taken about an hour to circumnavigate the lake, but the author is going to omit that large chunk for fear of sending the reader to sleep (back in the Library, the fourth wall rattled ominously as Tash and Michael stared in its general direction)

Eventually, the two agents were stood before a large wooden door. At a mere 5 feet and a bit, both agents were dwarfed by the enormous barrier that blocked their path. They barely came up to the door handle.

"Well... now what?" Alice always had the obvious question. Louise was already running her hands across the woodwork, and didn't appear to have heard her friend's question. "Hey!" Alice poked the agent in the ribs.

"OW... what was that for?" Louise turned to her friend in mock annoyance.

"What are we going to do now?"

"I'm looking..." she ran her hands down the grain of the wood. She knew Merle was little taller than herself... she looked side long at Alice... about her height actually. So therefore there must be a way in for short-arses like them. After a few seconds searching, there was a click.

"HA!" Louise was triumphant. A small human-sized door swung open before them. "Trust Merle to overlook the obvious," she muttered to herself.

Alice peered through the doorway. It led into a long hallway, lined with the same white stone that made up the outside of the building. Down the side of the room were large stained glass windows, abstractly portraying knights with extremely large halos. As the two agents edged slowly into the room, Louise couldn't help but stare in amazement at the beauty of the place. She was an archaeologist after all, and the one thing she couldn't resist was a beautifully built stone structure with apparent medieval overtones. Her friend gave her a gentle poke in the ribs, and they kept moving.

"I think I know my way around here... roughly" Louise had played too many hours of the game to not know the general layout of the Sarafan Stronghold. "If Merle's in here, she'll likely be near the top..."

Several hours later, Alice and Louise were lost, and nowhere nearer to finding the elusive Sue. Both agents were convinced they were going in circles, although being as stubborn as mules, neither was prepared to admit it.

"It's this way," one whispered to the other,

"No, this way" the other replied.

The agents turned a corner, and found themselves facing the largest set of doors either of them had ever seen. Louise sighed, and in her most sarcastic voice bemoaned,

"What a love of doors..."

Alice, being the stronger agent, gave one of the large doors a huge heave. It swung open easily.

"Ok, that was too easy" Louise stood warily on the threshold. She knew Merle and what kind of plots and traps she would likely concoct. Alice was inclined to agree with her friend's concern about the ease of the access.

"Yeah... where's all the booby-traps?"

The doors opened into a large, cavernous, cathedral-like building. The vaulted roof towered several storeys above them. The main nave was lined with arches, leading into narrower outer ones.

Alice and Louise walked slowly up the central portion of the enormous room. They were careful not to allow their footfalls to echo too loudly.

As the pair approached the end of the nave, their path was blocked again, this time by a large metal fence. They had reached the crossing-point of the cathedral. Beyond the fence, they could see the individual chapels, all decorated with elaborate stained glass, as were the rest of the windows.

"Louise, where the hell are we going?" Alice whispered; conscious of the reverberation produced in a building made of stone.

"I'm not sure... I get the feeling we're being led," she looked around nervously.

"Well..." Alice's voice got a little louder and more defined, "...let's split up and look for clues"

Louise didn't get her friend's intentions, so turned to confront her,

"Alice, will you please keep your voice down?" she hissed.

"Don't shush me... besides, they probably already know where here."

At that moment, a loud bell resonated throughout the Stronghold.

"I think you're right, Ali." Louise looked around frantically for a place the two of them could hide. With the fence securely locked, there was only the limited shelter of the pillars. "I think a strategic retreat is called for."

"I agree..." and the two agents headed off back down the cathedral at full pelt (which, given that both were on the rounder-side, took a while).

Alice, surprisingly, reached the door first. She rattled the handle, but nothing gave. The doors were locked. Louise joined her, panting for breath.

"Damn my asthma" she breathed. Her friend placed a hand on her shoulder,

"You alright, hun?" But before Louise could reply, the sound of boots could be heard in the adjoining corridors.

"S**t," Alice cursed, "move..." she shoved a still breathless Louise behind a pillar as a group of well-armed men barrelled in at the far end of the room.

"HALT!" the leading man approached, brandishing a firearm.

Alice instinctively raised her hands in surrender.

"Don't shoot..."

The rest of the men filed into the central nave, forming a corridor-like effect, down which a young woman strode. Alice recognised Merle from Louise's descriptions. A quick glance told her that Louise was still well hidden.

Merle placed a hand on the lead soldier's shoulder, who lowered his weapon slowly. She then turned her attention on Alice.

"I know where you have come from, girl..." Merle's voice held no indecision or query. She was supremely confident in her position. "And what makes you think I am going to surrender to you?"

"It would be nice... the Society would prefer you to come in quietly."

Merle laughed. It was high, cold and completely without mercy. Alice gulped, and from her hiding place, Louise watched in horror, knowing she could do nothing to save her friend.

Merle stepped towards her quarry. The agent took a small step backwards, in order to brace herself. Her hand slid sub-consciously in the direction of her sword. Merle missed nothing. She seized Alice's wrist in one hand, and with the other, drew the agent's sword from its sheath.

Behind the pillar, Louise held her breath in fear.

"NO THAT'S MY..." Alice screamed without thinking. Merle pulled her captive forward.

"I have no intention of surrendering myself to you or to HER."

"Who?" Alice asked,

"You know who I mean, girl. That bitch you travel with."

"That's my housemate you are talking about, woman!"

Merle's voice dropped its harshness, and became oily and seductive. "Tell me where she is, and I promise I won't hurt you."

"I don't know... we got separated in this place. She could be anywhere by now."

"You lie..." Merle yanked on Alice's wrist, forcing the agent to follow in her wake. She gave an involuntary yelp of astonishment. Merle, tossing her long plait over her shoulder, called to a soldier who had been lingering in the shadows.

"Richard..." She hauled Alice forward. The agent fought all she could, but soon found herself in the soldier's very firm grasp.

"Tell me where Mirani is, and this will all be over,"

*blink, blink, blink* "Who?"

Merle slapped Alice across the face, forcing her to fall further into Richard's hold. "Don't be foolish girl. I know you arrived here with her, and I know she is not stupid enough to leave you on your own for too long... so where is she?"

"Up your bum" Alice retorted before sense took hold.

Merle's hand caught the helpless agent around the throat. She smiled. "Maybe I could use you as a grand-daughter..." she looked up at Richard. "Go... take her... teach her a lesson for disobeying me."

Richard hauled the protesting Alice towards the door, as Louise clambered to her feet.


"Louise..." Alice's cry of help was cut off by the knife that drifted to her neck. She looked up at Richard, whose serious, unpitying eyes stared down at her.

"Not another word" his voice, whilst deeper than Merle's, was just as cold. Alice's eyes locked on the form of Louise, not wanting to look away.

"Ah..." Merle turned to face the second agent. "So... you are just as weak as I remember you."

"Do what you want to me, just let Alice go" Louise's voice almost begged.

"Oh, I most certainly am going to do what I want to you, Mirani... but why waste a good opportunity for Richard..."

"Merle no... please. I beg you. Take me in her place. I don't care what you do to me..." Louise was frozen to the spot with fear for her friend. She knew Richard was not kind, and would likely take pleasure in torturing the defenceless agent.

"Richard... I gave you an order"

"Of course... sire." Richard seized Alice's arms, and dragged her from Louise's view.


"ALICE" Tash's voice echoed around the Monitor Room. She was the only person present, watching her two best friends suffer at the hands of a Sue. She hit a second button in order to view both scenes at the same time. If her presence was needed, she didn't want to have to hunt for a specific room.


"Now..." Merle's hand gripped Alice's sword. "I see you have been travelling. Warhammer 40K, if I'm not much mistaken"

"Merle, please... we both know Richard will likely kill Alice."

Merle smiled, and looked Louise's dress up and down. "I seriously doubt you are hiding any form of weapon in there, so there is little point in fighting."

The agent backed up against the pillar. "You have abducted my best friend, and now handed her over to Richard to do things unthinkable. Of course I am going to fight you Merle."

Merle launched herself forward with Alice's sword. Louise dodged, sliding round the pillar, and appearing on the other side. She caught the heel of her hand against her foe's head, catching the Sue off balance.

Merle staggered, her movements as graceful as a ballerina. She spun, the hilt of the sword impacting on Louise's side. The agent bent double, and took a second blow to the back of her head.

Louise collapsed to the floor, but before Merle could capitalise on this, the agent swung out, impacting on the Sue's leg. Merle toppled over, but Louise was too stunned to realise. She merely struggled to her feet, and hauled herself away from her foe.

The battle continued until Louise's foot slipped on a flagstone. She crashed to the floor, and stared helplessly up at the blade of her friend's sword. Merle didn't have to touch the metal to the agent's skin to her to feel the effect. She froze, her eyes glued on the weapon in her enemy's hand.

"Get up," Merle commanded, and Louise obeyed without protest. "Turn around..." the sword in her hand gestured to one side, forcing the agent to comply. She was pushed against one of the giant pillars, and her wrists pulled behind her back. She felt the snap of anachronistic handcuffs.

"Merle?" Louise's voice shook with undisguised fear... "please..." She was swung around, and Merle seized her top.

"Begging didn't get you anywhere in the past, Mirani... what makes you think it will work now?"

Whilst her voice quivered, her words were absolute, "I don't go by that name anymore."

"I don't care what name you go by now. You have betrayed me..."

"No..." her voice pitched an octave higher than normal, "Merle, I just moved on with my life..."

"Let's see how you react when I take away the most precious things to you." Louise's face was a picture of fear, coupled with concerned for what Alice must be going through. Merle's clutch on her top tightened, and she dragged the defenceless agent into the depths of the stronghold.


Alice screamed. She had been screaming ever since Richard had bound her wrists together and strung them above her head. It was a cry of pain and also of fear.

"I said, SHUT UP" Richard yelled, and the agent's arms were pulled further upwards.

"I'll make all the bloody noise I want... my arms are hurting." It was getting to the point of unbearable pain, and Alice's sense of self-preservation was going out the proverbial window.

Richard fastened off the rope that restrained her arms and approached his helpless captive. He was smiling. That kind of smile that a predator gives when he is toying with his prey.

Alice's thoughts whirred, but nothing useful was forthcoming. Her mind was divided. She was terrified for her own well-being at the hands of this monster, but another portion of her was worried about the safety of her friend, and wondering what hell Merle was putting Louise through. As if she had spoken her concerns aloud, Richard said, "I wondered whether Merle will let me play with Mirani before she dies..." Alice swallowed hard.

"Who is this Mirani you speak of? Do you mean Louise?" Alice had heard the name before, but never had she associated it with a person. It was merely a name her friend used on computer games. The idea made her wonder at her friend's true identity.

"Don't be foolish girl…" a female voice called from beyond Alice's view, but before long, Merle appeared, dragging a restrained Louise behind her. The agent could not speak, for a length of fabric had been tied as a gag around her mouth. The two friends could only lock eyes, and Alice could see the fear and sadness held within.

Merle marched Louise over to the corner of the room where a metal loop rested at waist-height in the wall. Alice could see that her sword hung at the Sue's side, and she hissed under her breath. Louise's cuffs were removed from one wrist, but then they were refastened on the metal loop. Merle forced her foe to the floor. Her friend, Alice could see, could not longer get to her feet, so remained sat on the dirt floor.

Alice squirmed, and this drew Merle's attention to her for the first time. She smiled, but it wasn't kind and friendly, it was a cruel, malicious, hate-filled smile. Richard moved to stand beside Louise, who withdrew as far as she could.

"You know…" she said, as her steps carried her towards the helpless Alice. "You know this is her fault." She gestured towards Louise. The agent went to seize the gag, but Richard gave her a quick crack on the back of her head, and Louise slumped into brief unconsciousness.

Alice winced. She could see the tension in her friend's shoulder, and knew what that could do.

Annoyed at Alice's inattention, Merle slapped her across the face.

"ARGH" Alice yelped in pain, "You bitch". She was hit again for that.

"I want you to suffer, girl…" Merle walked right up to the suspended agent. She caught Alice's prominent chin in one hand, and grabbed hold of her long hair with the other. Alice's head was forced to look at her unconscious friend, even now stirring back into waking. "I want you to know whose fault it is that you are suffering"

Alice had had enough, "I know whose fault it is, you ugly tart" Alice's voice was loud in spite of her situation. "You hate Louise because she moved on, and you don't have the courage to accept that." She had guessed this, and was unaware how close to the truth she had hit. Louise, confined to the corner, could only watch.

Merle pulled on her hair hard, and Alice screamed. This noise awakened Louise from her temporary unconsciousness, but Richard, still standing at her side, seized hold of her ponytail and wrenched her head back.

"LOUISE!" Alice yelled at the top of her sizable lungs.

Merle laughed. It was the first time Alice had heard it, and it was also something she would never forget. It was cold, mirthless and utterly without pity. When Alice would look back at this moment, she would ponder as to the reason a Mary-Sue had such a laugh. For the current however, all it did was fill the agent with fear.

"You are going to suffer greatly, my dear…" and she walked from Alice's view.

Louise could see nothing but the ceiling. She struggled against Richard's grasp, but the more she fought, the tighter he pulled, and soon her neck was painful from the strain. She tried again to remove her gag, but Richard, with his spare hand, seized hers and twisted her wrist. She let out a muffled yelp of pain.

"LOUISE" Alice was still there… she was scared, Louise could tell, but there was nothing that either agent could do to help the other.

A length of rope dropped from the ceiling onto Alice's head, who squeaked in surprise. Merle returned moments later and deftly looped the rope into a noose. Alice, who could see what she was doing, yelled for her to stop.

"Please… no…" This only made Louise more agitated. Merle paid no attention to either. Once she had finished tying the rope, she appeared to lose interest in it, and walked over to Richard's side, who merely handed Louise's wrist to her. He released his hold on her ponytail, and Louise took the opportunity to look at the situation. She saw the fear in Alice's eyes.

"Your turn" Merle murmured to Richard. "Make her suffer." She crouched down beside Louise and whispered in her ear.

"This is all your fault Mirani. If you had stayed with me, if you hadn't betrayed me – she would have lived."

Louise's eyes popped in fear. Alice, who hadn't heard Merle's threat, could only watch Richard collect the draggling noose and force it over her head. She struggled, but he slapped her several times and soon she fell limp. She was still conscious, and her eyes met her friend's.

The rope was yanked upwards, and Alice screamed. The sound of it shook Louise to the core of her very being. She had never seen her friend so scared… even when they had been on their knees before a squad of Space Marines, she had always be brave, strong… but here she was terrified.

"Watch Mirani…" Richard called from the other side of the room, his voice mocking. He pulled the rope even tighter, and Alice began to splutter. "Watch me choke the life out of the most important thing to you."

Louise couldn't speak. Her arm, still held by Merle, twisted and turned, but made no headway. She could only watch.

Time seemed to slow, and Louise's eyes never left her friend's tortured face. She felt the moment when Merle released her arm. Her pain doubled as her foe gave her a whack in the side with Alice's sword. She heard, in perfect clarity, Alice's yell as Merle sliced through the ropes holding her arms. Alice dropped, her entire weight now being taken by the rope around her neck. She heard the clatter of several metal items on the floor, and then Merle and Richard serenely walked out.

Louise, even in her dazed state, didn't hesitate. She knew that Alice only had seconds before the oxygen deprivation began to have serious effects on her brain. Reaching with the only part of her that she could, she scooped up the sword and with her injured wrist, powered it up and sliced through her restraint. Getting to her feet, Louise swung around and in the same motion ended Alice's suffering. The rope cut, Alice collapsed to the floor.


The moment the two agents appeared in the Library they were set upon by many hands. Gentle voices, worried voices, all blurred together in Alice's mind. But clear amongst them all was one voice; the voice that had gotten her through her torment; the voice that dragged her back from the brink of unconsciousness even now as she lay on the hard floor of the Monitor Room.

"Alice… Alice… can you hear me Alice?" Louise's voice called through the bubble of activity that surrounded them. "Alice… please don't die."

Louise never left her friend's side. As many hands lifted Alice onto a gurney, she shouted at anyone who tried to push her away.

"Louise, you are in the way" came a voice. It may have been Valerie's, but then it may also have been Rhia's.

"I'm not moving" Louise was adamant about this. "Alice is my best friend, and I am NOT going to abandon her."


Alice was unconscious for several days after returning, during which time Tash took the opportunity to debrief Louise. This had to take place at Alice's bedside, for the junior agent had refused to leave her friend.

Tash had been very interested in the history between Louise and Merle, and who Richard was in the scheme of things.

"Richard is… well, let's just say he's a Stu, but a more vicious and vindictive individual than Merle, if that's at all possible." Louise, Tash could tell, was leaving many things unspoken.

"Is Merle specifically targeting you?" Tash had asked this particular question many times. Louise had managed to evade it, until she had talked herself into a corner.

"So…" the founder, leader and currently Librarian prodded for information,

"I think so." Louise sighed, knowing her friend had beaten her. "She thinks I've betrayed her. She wants to make me suffer, and from the look of it that is going to be through seeing my friends have the crap beaten out of them." All this came spilling out before Louise had a chance to check what she was saying. By the time she had finished, Tash knew pretty much the entire story of the junior agent's connection with the elusive and irritating Sue.

"So…" Tash summarised, "you are former friends, and now she wants you to suffer." Louise nodded at the accurate account. Her hand twitched within Alice's relaxed hand. She didn't like her past, especially that particular chapter of it. Her eyes drifted down to Alice. Tash too looked down at the unconscious agent, also her friend.

"I'll let you sit here" Tash murmured, getting to her feet. "Let me know when she regains consciousness." Without taking her eyes from Alice's peaceful face, the agent nodded.


Dave was kind enough to bring Louise some food each day, else the agent probably wouldn't have eaten. She waited, her hand loosely holding Alice's, until two and a half days after returning to the Library, there was a stir of movement.

"Alice?" Louise asked. Alice merely groaned. "Good to see you back in the land of the conscious."

Alice's voice was hoarse, and several decibels quieter than her normal. "Where…?" she asked,

"You're in the Library… technically in the Medical Bay, but you get the point. You've been out for two and a half days. I was beginning to worry that you wouldn't wake up…" Louise was letting her words run away with themselves; the way they always did when she was nervous.

"Louise…" Alice croaked,


"Shut up!" there was a slight flicker of a giggle in Alice's voice. She smiled weakly, and Louise returned it. She was just pleased to have her friend back. "Why is my throat so sore?"

"You were strangled" Louise answered bluntly. Not one to mince her words, she continued, "I cut you down from the rope, and brought us back here. Val took care of your injuries, and we've been waiting for you to wake up for two and a half days…" she paused, if only for breath. Alice took advantage of this, and asked

"What happened to Merle?"

"Ran away, the coward" Louise still held her friend's hand, but now she was conscious, there was more life in it. Alice smiled weakly.

"Ah... ok. And what about her apparently incestuous fuck-buddy?" Louise looked a little confused for a second, then realising Alice meant Richard, said

"Ran away too"

Alice groaned, and murmured, "I'd have hoped you'd have caught him. I was looking forward to his balls fried in butter..." she slumped back against her pillow. Louise stroked her friend's hair from her face, but said nothing.

The two agents sat there, speaking when necessary, and the hours passed, but Louise didn't care. She was merely grateful that her friend was alive. She knew the feud with Merle wasn't over. It would never be over, until either the Society killed or captured her, or Louise was dead. She would have to watch her steps from now on. Merle had upped the game, but Louise… and the rest of the Society… would be ready for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment