Friday, April 19, 2013

Insert Vampires Catering to Fanservice Here

Somehow between the fluid slips of time Karissa had missed the coming and going of a few important anniversaries. Adrian had been lost to the Society for over half a year; her old rival Lela had been dead for months, and she was still to be pitied; and her Author had turned nineteen in the Real World. Flowing naturally from the last event, Karissa and Charis had reached their respective birthdays not soon after. The sisters were both products of creativity not forced to be directed towards school; as well, they were born of the free time abundant in August. They had jointly celebrated their birthdays on a date exactly bisecting the week-long break that separated them in age by an extra year. Their festivities were quiet, if they could even be called such. As usual Charis had prepared a lavish dinner – notable only for the quality of the ingredients, not due to her decidedly modest culinary skills – but instead of serving only Karissa she'd also invited some of their closer friends to share the meal.

Ben and Lily contributed to the table conversation easily, and Chloe shared dry and humorous anecdotes about Jared (the LPGB were deactivated for the night, safely stowed away in their toybox). Pete dropped by to exchange pleasantries at about dessert time but he also trailed Shirley, who then entered into competition with Lily in telling embarrassing stories about Ben. Muted though their chatter might have been, everyone stayed up well past midnight continuing to talk. Charis may have been legal under Canadian law, but the rest of their company certainly had not been of age, so no alcohol had been served the last night. Therefore, Karissa was understandably confused when she woke up fuzzy the next morning.

"W-what? What is it? Charis, what do you want?" There was hardly any time for Karissa to feel alarm before she recognized the familiar presence of her older sister. For some reason, Charis was trying very hard to wake her, but she could swear that the clock on the stand clearly read 6:00. "Charis, let me go back to sleep! Whatever's the matter, surely it can wait for four more hours."

Charis was already fully dressed – had she even gone to sleep, Karissa wondered – but she visibly fought back her own yawns. It didn't seem like she herself was awake of her own accord. "Michael wants you," she explained, "So I don't think it's something that can wait, actually. Apparently there's a Sue loose in the Vampire Diaries fandom, and you're the only one who would keep watching a teenage television series about vampires, despite having escaped Twilight's clutches. You're to go after the Sue."

Karissa groaned. She hadn't had a mission for weeks...but right now what she wanted to do most was sleep. "What level?" Like it or not, her speech was getting more coherent with wakefulness. "What level is the Sue?"

Charis held up all the fingers on one hand before she noticed that Karissa's eyes had closed once more meanwhile. "Hey!" She reached down and pinched her sister's cheek, observing satisfactorily its rousing effect. "This Sue is potentially a Level 5. Is that going to be a problem for you?"

"No, no," Karissa muttered. At last she resigned herself to the fact she would be leaving her bed. "Just give me a moment to get changed, and I'll go," she said, all sighs, to make her sister leave the room. Despite her grumbling, once she'd lain feet on the floor it didn't take long after to exchange her pyjamas for the black overall set that she wore in the day. She paused twice, once to tie the ribbons of her shoes round her ankles, and then to secure the sash in which she kept Gekkou, but these small delays did for her what coffee couldn't. She closed her eyes as she dithered, imagining that for each second that went by she'd gotten one more hour of sleep, and so left her room 'refreshed'.


"How's Karissa doing with the mission?" Charis asked casually mid-morning. The Library was not like any office building in the real world, and the 'work' the Society did was so specialized that it could hardly be called that, but the equivalent of 'meeting around the water cooler' typically occurred inside the doors of the monitor room. Sometimes more entertaining missions were viewed en masse, and then the 'meetings' were more rowdy than others. Most times, like this, only a few people sat among the number of chairs present. Today Charis addressed Emotion Marcus and Thought Marcus, both whom were on-duty, and also Akai who might have been there because she was bored.

"WHAT MISSION?" Emotion Marcus replied to her, loudly.

Charis looked a little put off. "Er, Karissa left for The Vampire Diaries at 6:00, and it's now 9:00. Is she having some trouble Prohibiting the Sue, or what?"

Thought Marcus peered acutely at the screen closest to him. "As a matter of fact, I'd almost forgotten about your sister. It's true that she entered the fandom around six in the morning, but there hasn't been any change in activity there for quite a while. Maybe she hasn't found the Sue yet?"

Charis was sceptical. "I would have said that, if anything, Karissa's a little too unhealthily obsessed with the show. Surely to her the Sue would stand out like a nail."

"The nail that stands out gets hammered down," Akai interjected evenly before downing a small handful of Altoids.

"Ri-ight." Charis' expression creased into a frown. "I really hope nothing happened to her. Maybe she tried to take the Sue down with a little too much aggression, and she ended up getting hurt instead. Maybe the Sue killed her – if the Sue was a vampire! Oh god, my baby sister killed at age 17!"

"Calm down! If a character died in the fandom then the computers definitely would have registered a shock. You and your sister are characters, right? 'But there hasn't been any change in activity there for quite a while.'" Akai spoke again, and even as the Library rocked to the sway of the Fourth Wall, Charis saw the logic in her words.

"If you're so worried about Karissa, go in after her. Two Agents are better than one. And it's not like you can go back to your lab anytime today, anyways." Akai sucked on another mint reflectively.

"Why ever not?"

"Well, I saw the LPGB sneak in there earlier with what looked like miniature sticks of dynamite. Either they mean harmful intent towards you, or else they're just using your lab as a shortcut to smuggle weapons past Shirley; in any case, I don't think you want to go downstairs for the time being. Go ahead and check up on your sister – and take an Altoid for your trip, why don't you?"

Charis hesitated one second more, shrugged, and then decided to hell with it, why not. She would take the original suggestion offered to her – she would pay a visit to the vampire-based fandom too – but as for the latter proposal she was still a little too wary of the possessor the jun-akuma to take 'candy from a stranger'. "Thanks, but no thanks, Akai. I'll see you later."

She pulled a Plothole Generator from its loop on her skirt's belt and made to go.


She wasn't dead. She wasn't hurt. She didn't even seem to be uncomfortable – when Charis literally tripped over her sister, she was lounging on a grassy knoll outside Mystic Fall's only high school, eating from a bowl of popcorn to boot. "Karissa, what are you doing, and where's the Sue?"

Karissa waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the parking lot. "Shush, Maria's parking her car."

"Excuse me?"

"That's her car – the black Venturi Fetish." Karissa didn't know many cars, but she was adept at singling out those she liked. She'd hung a small poster above her bed back in her Library room, so Charis knew exactly which vehicle she referred to. The Fetish performed a neat back-in parking job and the engine had been silent for barely a second before its occupant made a move to come out.

Maria revealed herself to be a tall and dark beauty crowned innocuously with a full head of ash blonde. Her hair was piled ridiculously on top of itself to resemble a style that normally only a Japanese hime might have worn without drawing comment. Part-beehive and part-waterfall of pale greyish tresses, the hair was the first thing that anybody noticed. Although Charis cast a critical eye over the rest of her body everything ultimately led to a comparison with the girl's hair.

Her long brown and tanned legs seemed too skinny to support such an overladen head; the same was true of her thin and slender neck. Her hands were tipped with long flawlessly painted nails, but even that added length left her arms a full foot shorter than where the bottom of her hair curled out from her back. "Enough. Don't make me look at her anymore," Charis moaned quietly. But she hadn't yet observed the quaintly sewn sundress Maria wore, nor the impractical cork platform heels on her feet, not to mention all her sparkling jewellery...

Charis' eyes gratefully alighted on the next person to emerge from the car – main character Stefan Salvatore – that is, until he walked promptly up to Maria and kissed her. Charis' jaw dropped. She tensed for an outraged fangirlish reaction from beside her but none came. Karissa kept a neutral expression as she took some more popcorn for herself, and it seemed like she was still watching for something more.

Another sleek black sports car pulled into the parking lot at that point. The sudden sharpness of Karissa's gaze alerted Charis that these newcomers were important people, and they were. Other main characters Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert staggered out already locked in a passionate embrace. This was madness. Charis waited again for an explosion of epic proportions. None came. "What is wrong with you?" she finally burst out instead.

"Who, me?"

"Yes, you. First you started off by addressing the Sue casually by first name, as if she was your friend. Now you're not batting an eyelid at the distortion of one of the canon's most central pairings. Did you take a bad knock to your head? Can you possibly be seeing right?"

"I can see perfectly fine," Karissa retorted smartly. "And it's not hard to memorize Maria's name – I have perfect recall for this storyline, that's all."

"That completely wasn't the answer I was looking for. May I remind you that Maria – the Sue – is not intended to be part of this series?"

Karissa blinked quickly, once; twice. "Back up again. She's not?"

"Of course she's not!"

"Oh...right. Now I remember." Karissa appeared to deflate as all her built-up enthusiasm escaped into the air. Abruptly she clapped her hands together, wearing a look of contrition. "I'm sorry! I got so caught up in events – and I've always felt sorry for Damon anyways – so I suppose I let my imagination get away from me. I mean, without me stepping in to take action, it's almost like I had a three hour-long, personally-scripted episode being presented just for me, hot Delena scenes included! The temptation to stay idle was just too great."

Charis couldn't deny that the evidence presented by the presence of the popcorn painted her sister in a bad light. "Karissa, how could you be so stupid? Acting content to let Maria go simply because you've been enjoying the show she's put on for you? In our profession we have to treat these characters as if they were as real as you or me. Even if she's only doing it so that Damon and Elena can get together, Maria is bending Stefan's will in order for him to love her. We betray Stefan if we don't do our best to put things back as they should be."

Karissa managed to look even guiltier than before, as if that were possible.

"I think you and I are going to have a little talk with Maria Sweet Sophe V." Charis grinned. "At least I did my homework before barging in here – I looked into both this series and the Sue. I think I can actually offer you some assistance with any vampires now."


Maria was in the act of exchanging her Chemistry book for her Literature text – shoving the first, hated tome into the back of her locker with a savage push – when she became aware of another body's presence behind her. "Hello Stefan," she said, turning round to greet him with an indulgent smile. "Have you come to walk me to class?" One of her long blonde curls tickled his arms as she pulled him closer.

"Mari-" He started to say her name but broke off to give her a long kiss instead. "Mm, Maria, I missed you last night," he murmured against her lips. Blackish veins swept from the corners of his eyes as lust, rather than thirst, consumed him. When their embrace continued Stefan made an attempt to pull his vampiric features back – there were humans everywhere in this school, and who knew if anyone could see – but each time Maria that renewed their kiss he lost a little more control.


With supernatural speed both vampires whipped around, all traces of their true natures hidden, and displays of bright teeth crossing their faces. Maria's expression slipped a fraction. "Oh, it's only Damon. And Elena! How are you?" She stepped forward to give the only human in their midst a hug, drawing their little group closer yet to her open locker.

"Maria. Brother." Damon drawled amusedly at the lipstick stain sitting crookedly over Stefan's lips. "Keeping busy as ever, I see." His easy smirk hid a hard edge. "I don't suppose you had any time to research Katherine last evening. Were you too preoccupied? I suppose there's no hurry. Elena only wants to know why she looks to be the spitting image of her undead ancestor, but I do understand that takes backseat compared to love your love life. He's been single for a long time." Damon's sarcasm was biting. Equally as strong was Elena's sharp jab to his ribs, halting her boyfriend's surprisingly affectionate teasing of his brother (surprising because you wouldn't know it was affectionate, am I right?)

"You'd be surprised at how much we got done in truth," Maria said slyly. "For example, Elena, Stefan and I were talking, and we thought you might ask Alaric to take you through Isobel's things left at Duke."

"That's a really good idea," Elena said seriously. "I'll get in contact with Ric after school."

"Was that all you came to say, Damon? Were you just checking up on your little brother and his girlfriend?" Maria sang.

"No, that wasn't all, actually." Damon lowered his voice conspiratorially. "There was this Asian chick at the Administration Office who was asking after you. Except she added a few extra surnames to your own, and-"

"Maria Sweet?" This time all eyes spun around to regard, yes, Karissa. She stood in the hallway by herself, achingly obvious although she'd taken off her red sash and thrown it around her neck like a scarf in an attempt to appear less outlandish. Her uneven bangs fell across her face as she tilted her head, articulating clearly, "Maria Sweet Sophe V, isn't it? It is you. I'm a big fan."

Maria didn't sense any harmful intent coming from the human girl. She sauntered forward, hair swaying in time to her steps, to take her right hand. "I don't think I know your name, even though Mystic Falls is such a small town. That's terribly awkward for me. How do you know me, and what do you mean by calling yourself my fan?" She aimed to smile winsomely.

"How could I not know of you? Maria Sweet, cheerleader, most popular girl in the school, girlfriend of Stefan Salvatore; a Mary-Sue."

Maria froze. That's right, Damon had mentioned this girl knew her full name; she had addressed her by her full name too, how had she missed that both times? "You're an Agent of the Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society, aren't you?" she hissed from between clenched teeth.

"Correct. I won't ask how you know us. I've gotten used to exactly how far gossip travels among your kind."

"Stefan, back down," Maria ordered, catching the slightest movement in her peripheral vision. They couldn't kill the Agent – the hall was still far too full of students, curious nosy humans of which the entirety they'd never be able to catch and compel. She still held the Agent's hand – with a show of dominant force she dragged her further away from the main trio. Strangely the girl didn't resist. "Now surely we can be reasonable," she said lowly. "I haven't killed anyone – not even maimed one townsperson – and as for relationships, I've only pushed these two in a direction they're meant to go. The show's writers can't keep Damon and Elena apart forever. I've just shown them some... shortcuts."

"For that I was terribly grateful, for three blissful hours this morning," Karissa said sincerely. "But this cannot go on. It's not natural for you to be manipulating the characters' feelings this way, and sooner or later there will be a backlash. The next time that Katherine comes back to your little AU fantasy land, I might return to find Damon dead. Or Elena dead. I don't even know what's going to happen next week in the real world show, so what makes you think that through your perfect control you'll be able to stop events from spiralling out of control in here?"

Maria twitched at the P-word. "I would try my very best to keep everyone alive," she said evenly. "If Katherine dared show her face one more time in my town she'd be sorry."

"You speak like someone I might be interested in befriending," Karissa congratulated her. "But the fact remains that I have to take you out of this fandom now. Come quietly and I might let you put on a Permanent Prohibitor and face probation."

"Ha!" Maria let a laugh loose through her parted lips. "You're all talk! I hate to ruin the civility of the conversation we've been having, but how would you enforce my arrest? You don't look like you can back up your words with action!" Beneath her grip the Agent's arm flexed. "I've got you restrained, all by myself, with barely an effort," she laughed. The next thing she knew a strong chain had lashed around her wrist and forced her hand away from the Agent's. The girl held some type of Japanese chain weapon in her left hand.

Karissa raised her chin contemptuously. "Did you think I was useless with my left hand? I'm ambidextrous!" She leaned in closer to the Sue. "Last chance. You can surrender and we will waltz out the nearest fire exit. I won't have to bring out my other motivator." While she spoke Karissa carefully pulled an inch or two of Gekkou's chain back through her fingers so that it wouldn't be noticeable to the three wary stares still directed hotly at her.

Maria pulled a haughtier look than hers. "You're bluffing."


All at once Damon and Stefan Salvatore crumpled to the ground. There were two distinct screams from elsewhere in the building – Caroline Forbes and Taylor Lockwood, Karissa guessed. Maria was also bending in agony within her hold. Charis appeared at her sister's shoulder and in her palm she cupped a carbon copy of the old Gilbert anti-vampire device (it might be considered an anti-werewolf device, too). It looked just as any viewer should remember except it was much too shiny. "I surpassed my own expectations," Charis chirped happily. "I duplicated the Gilbert device in only a quarter of an hour."

"You can really make anything you put your mind to," Karissa marvelled. "If you put that on the ground, there, could you help me with this incapacitated Sue?"


The sisters stepped through Charis' Plothole in unison, carrying the slumped Sue between them like a towheaded sack of potatoes.


Karissa was afraid that her success on the Vampire Diaries mission set a bad precedent.

Two weeks later she was sprawled in one of the common room's more comfortable chairs, talking to Lily, when Michael hurried up to her.

"Karissa, I'm going to require you to assume another mission."

Karissa waited a beat before asking, "Let me guess? The mission is set in a fandom of my 'particular expertise'".

"Yes, those are more or less the words I was going to use."

"That means it's a vampire fandom."

"Yes." Michael didn't know what to make of her reaction. Karissa didn't seem overtly hostile, but she wasn't anywhere close to greeting his news with joy either.

"What fandom?" Against her better judgement Karissa began to rise from her seat, tacitly signalling that she would accept the request. "What fandom is it?"

"An American supernatural crime/drama television series called The Gates."

She nodded. "I've heard of it. Its vampire mythology is not as original as The Vampire Diaries. Let me grab my wooden stake." An idea suddenly formed in her mind. One of the reasons these vampire missions had become so boring was the fact that no one else readily volunteered accompany her. However-

Karissa turned to Lily. "Could you drag Ben and Shirley out from band practice for five quick minutes? I need a favour from all of you, and I promise I won't take up too much of your time."

Lily didn't know what to think of the strange way she was asking for help – they were friends, weren't they? – but she headed towards the third music room anyways.

Karissa beamed at her retreating back. She and Lily were friends. In her opinion Ben hadn't been spending nearly enough time with his girlfriend recently, so she was going to make time for them. Even five minutes would be enough – if that specified time didn't end up stretching out for longer. They could all find a nice green spot on a hill where they could recline; she'd supply the popcorn. And Shirley – the best, living, running, lethal wooden stake – well, she could deal with the Sue in any way she wanted.

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