Saturday, March 15, 2014

Insert Hell or High Water Here (part 2 of 2)

Dawn broke the next morning in the Jurassic, to find the two yachts still lounging side by side, a faint chorus of 'braaaaainsss...' sounded like a cockerel to stir everyone to life – at least until Red pulled out her shotgun from under her bunk and blew their heads off.

"Shut up already," she muttered, throwing herself back underneath her pillow.

Bleary eyed, and lacking a strong cup of her favourite hot drink, Harriet first noticed something was amiss when she saw that the small rubber dinghy that was usually mounted to the back of the yacht, was not in the same position it had been the night before. Frowning, she pottered around the back of the yacht, ducking ropes and almost tripping over her own feet, before she noticed that the diving platform was down – she was sure that they had brought it back up after they had finished with the Liopleurodon...

"I got a bite!"

John turned to watch as Gareth reeled his line in with unabashed enthusiasm, which was completely at odds with his dishevelled appearance. Neither of the young men looked as though they had slept at all the previous night.

The line gave another jerk, and Gareth pulled the rest of the line up by the float to see that the hook and the tiny ball bearing weight had gone, leaving only a frazzled twist of fishing line left.

"It got away," John supplied helpfully. Gareth sighed.

"That's the third hook I've lost this morning. What are these fish made of?"

"What you two doing?" a voice asked loudly. "Fishing for breakfast? You look exhausted."

Both boys' heads whipped around and they saw Tash rubbing sleep from her eyes, with an amused looking Harriet beside her. Gareth's hands suddenly became very sweaty around the pole.

" you see..."

Trying his hardest to look innocent, John whipped out a cue card to cover Gareth's stuttering.

"We did absolutely NOTHING."

Tash lifted an eyebrow. "Okay even your card sounds shifty..." she folded her arms. "Explain."

"We...we just," to disguise his tissue thin lie, Gareth held up the bucket with their catches. Both leaders pulled faces.

"...okay let's not eat any of those..." Harriet stated. "Tashybaby, go make us some eggs. I'm going to trot over and see the Mariner..."

As they turned and left, both Gareth and John slumped against the platform in relief.

"Close one," Gareth sighed.

"No kidding." Somehow John managed to make sarcasm drip off the iPad. "Come on, we have a monster to feed..."


The journey to the most dangerous sea of all time was highly uneventful. No one on the Society's boat was even a hundred percent sure how it had happened – supposedly because the documentary itself was very sketchy about the time travelling aspect of the framework.

As part of the introduction to the Cretaceous period, the crew of the Mariner took their dinghy out into shallow water to get a peek at some of the creatures below. And so, in true Society fashion, Tash, Alice and Robert got their own dinghy out, and were now stalking the filming crew as they zoomed around the bay. Nigel and cameraman Mike seemed happy to peer around for any signs of unusual activity, while a grumpy Ocean was engaged in a fierce glaring contest with the Society. She had clearly not slept well, for there were black circles under her eyes (which annoyingly enough just emphasised her eyes rather than making her look exhausted).

"Oooo blood bath!" Alice pointed in the direction that the Mariner crew were travelling. Tash picked up the speed a little and they drew up alongside the other dinghy, where a cloud of red was blotting the blue sea.

"Pass the periscope, please?" Nigel was already bending over the side of the dinghy. It was far too dangerous to swim in the sea that the show had dubbed Hell's Aquarium, and he pressed the end of the long grey tubes to his eyes. Seizing their own periscope, Robert did the same.

His jaw fell open. Through the haze of blood filling the sea, there was a frenzy going on. Diving in and out of the redness were some truly bizarre creatures of all shapes and sizes. Snake-like sea reptiles whipping in and out of the cloud, creatures with clawed feet and dagger-like bills darting around gracefully, and grotesque fish sweeping through the excitement.

"What do you see?" Alice asked. Robert did not even know where to begin.

"Umm...I have no idea...there's some fish...I think that's a shark..."

Impatient with his blustering, Alice seized the scope and took a look with her own eyes. She cursed as she bumped her swimming goggles into the eyepiece, causing them to cut painfully into her nose.

"Ooo!" she said, seeing the wingless birds sweeping their way around the cloud. "Hesperornis, am I right?!"

"Yup," cameraman Mike turned to grin at them. "Nigel saw a whole colony of them on the shore earlier this morning."

"I think I see some sharks too..." Alice said, dipping her head a bit lower to get a better view. "And there's a... what the hell is that?!"

Nigel had seen it too, and was speaking into the microphone on his shirt. "That's more like a bulldog than a fish..."

Indeed it was – a protruding head angled to reveal a vicious and wide set of teeth. It was easily six metres long – about the size of a great white shark.

"Xiphactinus probably," Tash said. "Nasty things..."

Alice felt a little sick as another swamp past the boats, gulping a Hesperornis down its throat whole. It was quite disgusting.

"There's something else down there..." Nigel was saying, a grin spreading across his face.

"Where?" Alice was turning the periscope left and right, with no success.

"It's gone now..." Ocean was peering into the murky water.

"Probably scared it," Tash muttered, and seeing Nigel pull up the periscope again, she started the engine once more.

Sighing at the fact she had missed something interesting, Alice looked at the leader. "Okay, She Who Memorises Scripts. What did Nigel see?"

"A Mosasaur," Tash said, pulling the string, causing the outboard to splutter into life. "Distant relatives of the snake."

"Hey!" Nigel was settling down next to Ocean. "We'll radio the Swanny later when we head out."

"Okay, but we're not called the Swanny anymore," Tash shook her head. "And we're not called Brains or Blarghensaft anymore either."

The crew of three blinked at them. " what are you called now then?"

"There was a mutiny among the crew last night," Alice huffed.

"Consequently, our ship has been renamed..." Robert broke off, unable to continue.

"The Flying Underpants," Tash looked proud for it had been her suggestion.

Nigel and Mike snorted with laughter, and even Ocean allowed her lips to twitch in amusement.

"Okay..." Nigel finally managed to speak. "We'll radio you before we set off."

Flipping him a salute, Tash twisted the end of the tiller, and began to steer the dinghy back towards The Flying Underpants.


The first peek of sunlight over the horizon was like a tiny golden speck, the next morning. Sitting in front of the bridge, Robert yawned. It was far too early for watch duty, but he just kept reminding himself that breakfast would be soon – Alice had promised to cook French toast.

They were bobbing in the middle of the open ocean. The sea stretched out for miles around the boat, and Robert wondered if this ocean still existed in modern times –as they had followed the Mariner into deeper water the previous afternoon, he had heard Alice mention how this area would one day become Kansas...he had no idea where Kansas was, and he swore that he would find a map and acquaint himself with Real Life geography as soon as they got back to the Library.

There was no sign of movement on the deck of the Ancient Mariner, and he guessed that the crew were still asleep. The only occasional motion came from the ropes slapping against the mast, or the Pteranodon that the crew had tamed earlier that day swooping over to see if anyone was up. He wasn't really sure what help he could be if the Sue did try to make a run for it – he was prohibited, with no powers or weapons to speak of, and he had no clue what the Sue may have. Still, he supposed, the Society had at least trusted him enough to bring him on this mission and having him take a watch shift without fear that he might stab them all in their sleep. That had to be something...

There was a yawn from behind him, and he turned just as Alice flopped down next to him. She was bleary eyed, and he guessed that she had only just woken up.

"Sleep well?" he enquired, and Alice huffed.

"Not really... bunk was too small..."

She wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and grumbled incoherently about it being the 'arse-crack of dawn'. Robert couldn't stop his lips from twitching into a smile. Alice's morning grumbles were something he was getting very used to.

"Wish we could just go over there and catch her... stop all this arsing around..."

"You know we can't do that," Robert warned. "If we attack her on the Mariner, the crew could all get hurt too."

"I know. I know. I'm just saying its annoying..." Alice huffed, pulled a face, and tugged off her swimming goggles to wipe them on her shirt. "Miss my glasses... and my cool goggles..."

"How long will Ocean be in the basement for if we catch her?"

Not looking up from her cleaning, Alice shrugged carelessly. "I dunno if they really set actual sentences. But she's broken parole so it'll be longer than her last time, especially since she's messing up the fourth wall..." she finally broke off seeing Robert looking morose. "I'm sorry. I know you don't like the thought of that..."

Robert shrugged. "It's okay... suppose that's what I'm here for. To make the sentence less of such a daunting prospect... it's a relief to be of use..."

Below deck there was another murmur of 'braaaaiiinsss...' and another bang that signalled Red stirring. Robert shivered.

"Cold?" Alice asked, offering the end of her blanket. The former Stu's cheeks turned pink, but as she waved it in front of his nose, he decided it would be safer to just take it.

"Thank you Alice..."

"S'okay," the agent gave another yawn, before glancing over in the direction of the Mariner. "Y'know what's weird?"

"...the name that John sharpied on the side of the boat?"

"," Alice shook her head, smiling as she remembered how the mute had slipped down to the end of the boat and renamed it The Yellow Finned Tuna the previous evening. "Sitting here and not seeing a single seabird."

It was true. Birds had not quite evolved yet in the Cretaceous, their ancestors the dinosaurs still very much being the ruling class on land.

"That featherless bird that was flying with the Mariner yesterday has been around a few times..." Robert pointed out, and Alice squinted towards the other boat.

"It's not a bird. It's a flying lizard Robert... though in a few million years after a comet wipes all of this out, they will turn into birds."

The former Stu looked completely confused at this impromptu science lesson. "A... flying lizard? Like a dragon?" he glanced over towards the Mariner fully expecting it to go up in flames at any moment.

"Nah not really..." Alice shrugged, drawing on her knowledge of Robert's home fandom and thinking of the best way to explain this. "It's got wings similar to some of your dragons, but it's a more simple creature, from when evolution was in its schizo teenage years..."

She trailed off seeing that Robert looked more lost than ever. "Oh screw it. Yes it's like a dragon only smaller and without the fire. Throw it a fish and it'll love you forever."

"I do not have any fish..." Robert admitted. "Gareth and John did yesterday, but they were squirreling them away and I haven't seen them since." He frowned thoughtfully. "I wonder what they need with such vast amounts of fish..."

"Eh..." Alice suppressed another yawn and shuffled a little closer to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Wanna go back to bed... why did I promise to make everyone toast?"

"...because you're nice like that?" Robert suggested.

"Mneeeh!" Alice buried her face in his shoulder, and Robert snickered at her.

"It's been a nice mission... a nice break from the Library... I do miss the outdoors."

Alice deflated against his shoulder. "I can't even begin to imagine how much you miss home..."

Robert shrugged. "I do miss it. But being here is... interesting. It's certainly never dull."

"Especially now people aren't looking at you funny?"

"...well... yes..."

"We'll go back to swotting for that test when we get back..." a moment of anxiety overcame the pet search engine and she shrank slightly against him. "I'm not being overbearing am I?"

Robert gave a wry smile. "No. Not at all Alice. I really appreciate your he-"

He broke off. He couldn't say what it was that made him sit up and snap his head around to the boat, but a sudden feeling of alertness made him scan the deck for any movement.


Then he saw it... the slow, snake like figure of a skinny Sue sneaking down the ladder on the diving platform.

"She's making a run for it," he jumped to his feet, throwing the blanket off his shoulders, and racing for the cabin. "I'll wake everyone!"

"Mneeeeeeh!" Alice flailed inside the tangled blankets. She emerged with messy hair, and stumbled her way to the edge of the boat. Ocean was on the diving platform with the dinghy bobbing in the water below. She stepped daintily in and began preparing the outboard.

As quietly as she could, Alice slipped around to the ladder. The sea was a dark grey below, and she shivered. She knew Harriet and Tash had expressly forbidden swimming in this particular sea, but she had to get over to the dinghy before the Sue escaped. As she carefully clambered down the ladder, she judged the distance between her and the dinghy – barely ten seconds in the water if she was fast. Making her mind up, she slipped gently off the ladder, gasping as the freezing water soaked her t-shirt and shorts through, and kicked off for the dinghy. There was a soft rumble from the outboard motor as Ocean finally got it started, and began to cast off.

"Where do you think you're going?!" she demanded, gripping the side of the dinghy and rolling herself ungracefully over the edge and onto the rubber floor. Ocean's eyes narrowed in determination, and she pulled a ship's knife out from her belt.

"Escaping of course!" she snapped, pouncing on Alice, blade extended. With a 'meep!' of surprise, Alice yanked her power sword from her belt and barely managed to block the strike that would have cut her throat. Pushing back with all her strength, she sent the Sue staggering backwards into the outboard.

"Dear God, you're strong!" the Sue spluttered, picking herself slowly upwards.

"Anti-epilepsy drugs will do that to a person," Alice remarked, depressing the button on her sword causing it to flare brightly. "Now are you going let me prohibit you, or- EEEEK!"

Her arms flailed comically as Ocean violently twisted the end of the tiller, sending the little boat zooming forward towards The Yellow Finned Tuna. The sudden movement threw Alice completely off balance and she landed on her arse, narrowly avoiding piercing the flimsy rubber with her sword.

"Why couldn't you just be nice, and go home?!" Ocean wailed, as she carefully navigated the narrow space between the two larger boats. The roar of the engine in the peaceful Cretaceous morning was monstrous. "I've done my time in that hellhole of yours! I deserve my freedom!"

"You had your freedom you daft cow!" Alice exclaimed, pushing herself up again. "You're the one who decided to jump to a non-fiction fandom and mess up the Fourth Wall!"

Ocean was cut off as a dark shadow leaped from the side of The Yellow Finned Tuna and onto the dinghy, causing the vessel to jerk violently. Ocean went sprawling and Alice gave a yelp as something heavy landed on her right leg.

"OW! Robert!"

"I'm sorry!"

"Watch where you're jumping, you prat!"

Trying to get his balance on the speeding vessel, Robert managed to get to his feet, and he seized Ocean's discarded dagger before she could react, and threw it into the sea. She kicked out at his knee and he staggered over, barely hanging on to the wet rubber. Switching off and sheathing her sword again, Alice rolled over and made a wild lurch for Ocean, which by some miracle managed to knock her over.

"Got her!" Alice was triumphant as she wrapped her arms around Ocean from behind and held her in a bear hug.

"I've got the boat," Robert assured her, crawling over to the outboard and turning the tiller to take them back towards the two boats. He could just make out the Society gathering sleepily on the bow.

"Like hell you've got me!" Ocean snarled. "I don't see a prohibitor on me yet!" leaning as far forward as she could in Alice's grasp, she threw her whole weight backwards as hard as she could. Her head banged painfully into Alice's nose and the agent lost her footing. With a squeal, she released Ocean to try and balance herself, but it was too late, and Alice tumbled over the side and into the murky water with a splash.

"Alice!" Panicking, Robert released the outboard and scanned the water for any sign of his parole supervisor. She bobbed to the surface in the wake of the dinghy, but before Robert could turn the boat around to retrieve her, Ocean's small but powerful fist collided with the side of his face and sent him reeling toward the bow of the dinghy, as the Sue half stumbled half crawled to the engine and turned it sharply away from the boats.

"Turn back!" Robert rolled over, trying to ignore the throbbing bruise forming on his cheek, and latched one hand onto the tiller, trying to yank it back towards Alice. The Sue smashed her fist onto his hand and he let go.

"Either she's freakishly strong or I'm out of practise," Robert thought to himself. "That hurt!"

"I'm not going anywhere except to dry land!" Ocean declared. "It'll be the end of the plotline soon and then my plotholes will work again! I'm getting out of here and there's nothing you can do to stop me!"


Treading water was an automatic reaction to being abruptly and unexpectedly submerged – which was a good thing, because Alice was too busy panicking to worry about staying afloat.

As she had tumbled into the water, the force of her head being plunged downwards had caused her swimming goggles to come off. Fortunately she had had the sense to screw her eyes shut as soon as she felt the water, but as she had bobbed to the surface, eyes still firmly closed against the dripping sea water, she had pawed around for her errant goggles and found nothing. They were gone.

Without lenses covering her face, Alice opened her eyes to a fuzzy world. Dramatically short sighted as she was, she could barely distinguish the grey sea from the dark, cloud covered sky. The rising sun was a blurry golden speck in the distance, and she couldn't see anything remotely resembling a boat. Fear, and abandonment began to swallow her and she felt a lump of panic rise in her throat. There were creatures in this sea that would kill her. She couldn't see Robert or the Sue. And she couldn't see the boat. Hot tears ran down her face, as she treaded water, too afraid to move.


She jumped, her flailing arms splashing loudly against the sea. From the sounds of it, someone on The Yellow Finned Tuna had given Harriet a megaphone.


She tried to pinpoint where the yelling was coming from, but everything around her felt noisy and oppressive, like it was trying to swallow her up. Her head was pounding, but it had nothing on her heart and she was sure that any sea monster out there would hear it miles away.


In the distance, Alice could make out the rumble of large engines, but it did nothing to ease her anxiety. They sounded like the rumble of a giant sea monster coming to eat her...she wished Robert was there. She wished Louise was there. Anyone to stop the ocean from swallowing her...she hoped Robert was okay, wherever he was...


"I can't see," Alice's voice was choked with fear as the ship drew closer. "I can't see! I've lost my goggles!"

"ALL RIGHT CALM DOWN!" Harriet was still yelling through the megaphone. "PANICKING WON'T HELP YOU. CAN YOU SWIM TOWARDS MY VOICE?"

She was so loud Alice didn't have the first clue where the voice was coming from, but she tentatively paddled towards where she thought it might be coming from.


Alice felt like crying again, and she wondered hopelessly if any of them would get out of this alive.


"Umm... is now a good time to mention that I changed the name again last night to the HMS Royal Oak?"



"Oh God! I'm so sorry Alice!" Tash shouted.

Alice's panic was broken by pain filled indignation, and her old self returned in a flash.

"Watch where you're throwing, you daft woman!"


It was a relief not to have to tread water anymore, and Alice clung to the life ring and allowed it to drag her back towards the boat. As soon as she bumped into the ladder, she seized it and began cautiously making her way up, one rung at a time – her blurred vision had not been helped by the projectile that he been thrown at her head.

"Worse. Rescue. EVER!" she barked, as she stumbled onto the deck and was promptly buried in towels.


"Let go!"

"You let go!"

"No, you let go!"

"I said you first!"

"You're crushing my fingers!"

"Well, deal with it, moron!"

The dinghy was travelling in a line that closely resembled a malfunction at the spaghetti factory, as both Robert and Ocean struggled to pull the tiller in the direction that they wanted to go. So far, Ocean was winning, with the white line of foamy spray left behind by the outboard motor meandering slowly further and further away from the boat. But Robert wasn't going to let her leave without a fight. He didn't have a prohibitor or anything useful on him, but he still had two pairs of hands, and was making damn good use of them.

"!" Ocean removed one of her hands, and Robert thought for a second he might be winning, until the Sue landed another punch to his jaw. The blow almost sent him reeling off the side of the boat, and he removed his hands to steady himself against the rim of the dinghy. The vessel gave a jerk as Ocean turned it straight away from where she knew the two boats to be anchored.

Robert didn't usually hit girls, but for Ocean, he was beginning to think that he might have to make an exception – every time she hit him it felt like a sledgehammer being whacked across his face. Losing his patience somewhat, he seized the tiller again and tried to tug it away from her.

"Just turn back to the boats!" he managed to swing the dinghy around ninety degrees to the left.

"And get locked back in your prisons! Never!" Ocean tried to jerk his hands away but he twisted the handle at the end of the tiller, causing her hands to slip and the boat to pick up speed.

"If you behave yourself, you might get out early!" he took his eyes off the sea ahead to watch her reaction.

"A cage is still a cage, no matter how long you spend in it!" Ocean would have stamped her foot had she not been crouched on the end of a tiny dinghy travelling at dangerous speeds. "I could spend three days, three months or three years in there, and it would still be a prison! I'm not going back to that horrible place!"

"It's better now!" Robert could barely hear himself over the roar of the engine, let alone the Sue, but he kept yelling regardless. "We've put measures in to make sure it's a better place for the inmates! It's not like that any-"


He followed her wild gesture ahead just a second too late – a dark round shape bobbing in the grey water had appeared out of nowhere, and before Robert could even think about trying to dodge, they had hit it with a jerk that flipped the entire dinghy over forwards. The tiny rubber vessel rose into the air, engine first, performing a complete flip, before splashing down into the water with a heavy slap. Two more splashes sounded as Robert and Ocean plunged into the freezing ocean.

Robert surfaced, blinking the water from his eyes. The freezing sea was biting into his legs and torso and he immediately started to shiver. Ocean surfaced not far away, and he caught sight of their upturned dinghy, floating sadly nearby.

"Now look what you did!" Ocean raged. "You flipped the boat, you moron!"

"I didn't mean to! You should have let go!"

"You should have just let me leave without jumping onto my damn dinghy-"

Ocean abruptly stopped screaming, as something floated into their field of vision. It was a huge round hulking lump, one side raw, pink and oozing in a stark contrast to the dark leathery skin and hard grey shell.

Robert felt sick.

"What is that?" he asked, though what he really wanted to ask was "what did that?".

"It's an Archelon," Ocean barely seemed to be moving, though from her light bobbing, she must have still been treading water. "It's a... prehistoric turtle..."

It must have been magnificent when it was alive, Robert realised. The creature had been bitten clean in two, with only its front half left to float along as debris in the sea. Just the front half by itself was almost two meters in length, and Robert shuddered. Whatever had done this had to be big.

"It... must have been a giant Mosasaur," Ocean continued. "That's the only thing that could possibly have done that."

"Then I suggest we get out of here," Robert said briskly, pulling himself into a front crawl. He had no idea what a Mosasaur looked like, but he did not care to stay and find out. Vaguely in the distance, he thought he could hear yelling, and his hopes rose as he realised that the boats could not be too far away...

There was a shriek and a splash, and Robert whirled around to find only sea behind him – there was no sign of the Sue, and a chill ran down his spine.


The sea was quiet, and Robert suddenly felt horribly exposed and vulnerable. A few bubbles broke the surface, and wondered if he should approach or stay where he was. Barely seconds later, the bubbles exploded against the surface followed by the Mary Sue, flailing and struggling to stay afloat.

"What happened?" he asked, but Ocean seemed too frantic to answer. Making his mind up, Robert struggled to remember the crash course in lifesaving that Harriet had insisted they all have before going on this mission, and swam quickly towards Ocean from behind. Wrapping one arm around her upper body, and taking care to pin her arms down, he wrapped the other securely under her chin and kicked onto his back, resting the Sue on his chest.

He almost let go in horror as he realised what had happened to her. As he began to kick backwards towards the voices, he caught sight of her left leg through the surface of the water – the flesh had been ripped apart by a vicious looking pair of teeth, the white bone begin obscured by a violent cloud of red as blood poured freely from the wound.

Robert felt sick, but he kept moving. What could have done such damage to Ocean and then not finished the kill? Alice had said something about sharks the other day. Attacking prey and letting it bleed to death was definitely the modus operandi of a shark. Or maybe it was that creature they saw the other day – Xiphactinus – and it had simply failed to grab her hard enough...Horrible thoughts only got worse as he realised that the blood from her leg would probably attract bigger predators for miles around.

"It hurts... it hurts..." Ocean sounded more in shock now than anything – her voice was not hysterical in the least, but small and whimpering. There was a low rumbling in Robert's ears and he wondered if that was what death sounded like... until he realised it was the rumble of an engine.

"ROBERT GET OUT OF THE WATER!" Harriet was bellowing through her giant megaphone. "THERE'S MOSASAURS UNDERNEATH YOU!"

Terrified, Robert's mind frantically pieced together the information. So that was why Ocean was still alive – whatever it was that had attacked her had been spooked off by a larger predator before it could finish its meal. As if to confirm that fact, a huge scaly snout rose from the sea in the distance, and clamped its jaws around the ruined dinghy. It vanished from sight beneath the water, and Robert just knew in that instant that they were all around him. Long serpentine bodies that seemed to slither through the water. Heart pounding, he sped up...


"In a second! I might hit Robert and Ocean!"

But Robert knew he did not have a second, as a sinister face loomed up ahead of him, and he knew that there would be no stopping it. The bang of the rocket launcher could not have been more welcome, and the nightmarish predator vanished into the murky depths. The swell turned his stomach, and Robert gave a yelp as he banged his head on the hull of the boat.

Getting up the ladder and collapsing onto the deck was a blur as the Society piled him with blankets, and Valerie and Harriet began to treat Ocean. He vaguely saw Alice buried under her own blankets and towels, before the two of them were steered off the busy deck and into the warmer environment of the bridge.

"Alice?" Robert finally kicked his brain back into gear as he gratefully sank onto a cushioned seat. "Are you okay?"

"M'fine..." Alice's voice was muffled through the layers of blankets. "I'm sorry I couldn't hold onto her..."

"Not your fault," he shook his head, sending drops of water everywhere. "I'm just glad you're okay, and nothing happened to you..."

He glanced nervously out of the door to where he knew the Sue was being attended.

"Was a Xiphactinis..." Alice reported. "Saw it on the edge of our sonar... she must have moved at the last second before it grabbed her otherwise it would never have let her go..."

"Will she lose her leg?" Robert felt a twinge of horror at the prospect. Alice shrugged.

"I don't know... I didn't see... no glasses and I lost my goggles..."

"Okay!" Tash marched into the bridge, her arms full of towels, with John trailing behind her, grim faced as he started up the boat again. "Okay wet clothes off! Towels are here. You'll have to wrap up in them since the rest of your clothes are wet or dirty. Don't bother showering now, we're heading back to the Library in one minute once Ocean is stable and I can get a plothole open..." she paused, seeing both Alice and Robert blushing, and making no effort to pick up the offered towels. "What?"

"...we have to wear towels until we get back to the Library?" Alice asked, her voice filled with dread.

Placing her hands on her hips, Tash adopted her best authoritarian look. "Alice. I care more about you being warm and dry than I care about your modesty. Strip off. Towel off. Wrap up."

"This is so mortifying..." now that he was no longer in danger, most of Robert's sensitivities were coming back, and he turned cherry coloured, peeling off his soaking shirt off regardless because deep down he knew that Tash was right. The leader gave a snort.

"Why are you so worried? We've seen everything of yours before."

The cherry colour vanished, replaced with paper white. "I... you... what?!" Robert spluttered.

"Yeah," Tash nodded. "Everyone rewatched the footage of the Rome mission after we'd been on it. So we saw everything in the brothel..." she paused, adopted a flirty smile and glanced at Robert's crotch. "And I mean everything. So you see my dear, you have nothing to hide from us."

And smirking at the horrified looks on their faces, she sashayed her way up to John. "Weigh anchor as fast as possible. I'll get to work on the plothole."

And she vanished from the bridge.

"That woman has no shame!" the former Stu said.

"Tell me about it..." Alice muttered.


Through the daze that shock and blood loss had put her in, Ocean opened her eyes.

She was lying on and partially under blankets, her left leg exposed and freezing. She could hear voices belong to Society agents all around her, and she wished they would all just go away... she was a Mary Sue... she would get better...

Her mind was foggy from lack of blood, but something strange was happening – it was like a warm current was being passed through her body. She felt powerful despite her injuries, and she knew – she just knew that she was going to get out of there.

"I won't go back... never... I will never be caged. Not by them. Not by an author. And not by this fandom!"

Something seemed to burst inside her, and she focused as hard as she could on her escape – she was a Sue, and she would not be caged!


The beeping of Tash's plot summary interrupted the plothole summoning.

"Oh, what now?!" the leader snapped, pulling the noisy summary out impatiently. She didn't have the time for distractions. They had Ocean's leg in a tourniquet and padded with as many bandages and gauze as they could, but the golden hour was tiny, and the Sue was in urgent need of a blood transfusion, and surgery.

The summary display beeped again and Tash felt her heart drop into her stomach.

Ocean's Sue level had just ticked over to six.

"Prohibit her!" she whirled towards the medics and their patient. "Prohibit her quickly!"

They looked up, surprised and bemused, and Ocean saw her chance. The plothole flickered into life beneath her and she plummeted straight into it. Seizing her megaphone, Harriet made to leap in after her, but the plothole slid shut again and the leader faceplanted into the deck instead.

"DAMN IT!" Tash swore, slamming her plot summary violently into the deck.

"OW! MY NOSE!" Harriet held the megaphone in one hand and rubbed her aforementioned nose with the other.

"What happened?"

"Where did Ocean go?!"

"What does that beeping mean?"

"I thought she couldn't use plotholes because of that plot insulation we put down..."

Tired of the noise and confusion, Harriet raised the orange megaphone again.


Instantly the whole Society fell silent.



"So all in all," Gareth said. "The mission is being declared a failure...and Harriet has a new accessory."

"Wish I could have come..." Louise muttered. She had been discharged from the hospital wing after receiving an antidote to her plot bunny bite, and had been keen to hear details of the whole mission.

"Eh you didn't miss much, save for me and Robert almost drowning," Alice muttered. "Ocean just hit level six, and the plot insulation couldn't hold her in anymore. She's probably jumped to another fandom to wait while she heals. The last three days were a total waste of time..."

Gareth gave a sly grin. "Well... not entirely wasted..."

Everyone blinked at him.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Louise asked, folding her arms and adopting her sternest face. Gareth just grinned wider.

"John and I went on a little fishing trip, that night in the Jurassic. Red was on duty so she let us slip off."

His fiancée smirked like a cat that had got a particularly large mouthful of delicious cream.

"I helped them get their catch back into the Library while everyone was sleeping," she admitted. "Which wasn't easy I might add, but the Library was kind enough to provide us with a big enough tank..."

"Big enough for what?" Robert asked. Now positively beaming, the pair reached the double doors to the reading room and pushed them open.

The room looked the same as it always had, save for one huge difference. Several of the bookshelves had vanished along one wall, and in their place was a huge pane of thick-looking glass. Beyond it the vibrant blue of water rippled in the lights of the room. Sitting cross legged on the floor was John, who turned to grin at his partner in crime as they approached the glass.

Alice gave a whistle. "Niiiice! How big is that tank?"

"Pretty big," Red nodded. "It's a few stories high and comes out in several other rooms, and there's a ladder up to the top from my lab so we can feed him..."

"Here he comes!" John held his iPad above his head so that he did not have to tear his eyes away from the glass. As the WARGS peered forward, a small dark shape loomed out of the water, its four powerful flippers propelling it at a leisurely pace towards the glass. It was only a meter and a half in length, but its shape was indistinguishable.

"You went fishing for a Liopleurodon?" For once, Louise didn't raise her voice – she merely sounded mildly exasperated.

"Cool!" Alice bounced on the spot. "Are we going to keep him?"

"Of course!" Gareth said. "It took us ages to find one that looked young enough!"

"Yeah he can't be that old..." Alice mused. "Only just left his mummy I reckon. He's pretty titchy as they go..."

She pressed her nose eagerly against the glass, and gave an 'oooo!' as the Liopleurodon passed her, its mouth opening slightly to properly display its sharp interlocking teeth.

"We've been feeding him fish that we caught in the Jurassic," John typed. "Dunno how he'll react to modern fish, so we're going to wean him slowly onto them."

As he lowered his iPad, footsteps approached the doorway, and the Librarian appeared, his left kitty ear twitching in annoyance.

"...why am I not surprised to find you guys behind this?" he sighed. "Why is there a huge fish tank in my Library?"

Nobody had to answer, for at this point, the Liopleurodon turned its head and began to circle around the end of the tank. Adrian's jaw fell open.

"...I sincerely hope this is a dream..." he muttered.

"Sorry. It's not," Robert shook his head. "That is a real Liopleurodon."

"DID SOMEONE SAY LIOPLEURODON?!" footsteps thudded down the corridor and Harriet appeared, still clutching her giant orange megaphone. She skidded short of the nearest sofa, and stared at the tank. "OH THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME THING I'VE SEEN SINCE NIXIE TAUGHT ME HOW TO TAKE MY UNDERWEAR OFF WITHOUT TAKING MY JEANS OFF!"

"...and now the whole Library knows it," Louise muttered, as the low rumble of doors opening and a hundred pairs of feet moving to investigate, filled the corridors.

"Where on earth did you even get a Liopleurodon?" Adrian asked, peering through the glass. "And so young?"

While he was mostly stunned by the insanity of the Society members, he was also impressed that they had been able to smuggle a creature like this into his Library without him noticing.

"Jurassic," John provided. "We wanted a pet."

"Harriet have you seen my blue dre-" Tash froze in the doorway and blinked three times. She had had her ears syringed as soon as they had got back to the Library, but she had been positive that she must have misheard Harriet's rantings a minute ago. "...A Liopleurodon?"

"His name is Fish Finger," Gareth declared proudly, stroking the glass.

It wasn't long before near enough the whole Society was packed into the room.

"This is so cool!" Ben said.

"Or totally insane..." Stephen muttered.

"You have a problem with our new pet?" Gareth asked, folding his arms. "Because I don't recall raising a fuss when you got Lil C."

"Well of course not – you were too busy trying to steal him!" Michael pointed out.

"A few problems..." Adrian said, tapping the glass tank. "First and most important one being that you keep saying 'he' when I think you'll find that this Liopleurodon is actually of the fairer sex."

Everyone watched as Fish Finger paddled in a lazy circle, apparently unconcerned by the fuss she was causing.


"Harriet, would you please put the megaphone down?" Adrian asked.

"NO! I LIKE IT!" the lead pouted huffily.

"All right fine... but it makes you look like a dumb football hooligan instead of an elegant lady of cricket..." Tash warned.

There was a pause as the Leader examined her latest accessory. Then she turned on her heel and marched briskly back into the corridor.

"...can we keep her?" Gareth finally decided to ask. "Please?"

Adrian found himself on the receiving end of about thirty pleading gazes, and he sighed.

"I was already going to say yes. She is quite sweet... in a strange, toothy way..."

There was a cheer, and everyone clustered around the tank to watch the latest addition to the Library.

"But her food is coming out of your budget, Gareth!" the Librarian warned.

As Gareth flopped to the sofa in a huff and began trying to think of ways to make the flying monkeys' food budget stretch, there was a distant splash, and a large orange megaphone sank slowly down the tank. Fish Finger eyed it curiously, before picking it gently up in her teeth and swimming off with it.

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