The light began flashing again. Buttons were pressed. Jay coughed to attract the attention of Acacia, who wasn't paying much attention after having been yelled at for shooting their playing cards full of holes.
Finally, Jay snarled and reached under the desk to reveal two wicked-looking pieces of metal, twined with a thick dark thread.
Even someone who's trying to ignore you will respond when hit over the head with knitting needles.
"Ow!" Acacia said. "What was that for?"
"We have work to do. Someone called Architeuthis reported another Mary Sue."
Acacia sighed. "Another one? So soon?"
"Yes. Civilian Architeuthis was very clear on this—very worried." Jay smiled nastily. "She's the daughter of Galadriel. And she sings Nickelback songs as she walks bravely through the woods."
"Oh, gods," groaned Acacia. "Only... hold on... if she's Galadriel's daughter, how does she know Nickelback songs?"
"She's been working at K-mart. She's too Moral and Liberated to take a job as a model, but she's perfect in eeeevery way..." Jay watched Acacia starting to get worked up; she grinned, started knitting again, and let nature take its course.
"How does an elf get a job at K-mart? There's still thousands of years to contend with here..."
"She was sent to the future. All the better to create a sad and repressed life to break free of."
"Oh, gods," Acacia said again. "And she falls in love with Legolas, am I right? Yes? Okay, so get us there!"
Jay smiled and put her needles back into a pocket on her gear. "If we hurry, we may be treated to her rendition of 'Smooth Criminal'..."
"Not if she hasn't got an intact throat, we won't," muttered Acacia darkly.
"Now, dear. You know the drill. She'll join the Fellowship soon..." Jay's hand hovered over the canon disguise settings. "Orcs again?"
"Not much choice, is there?" said Acacia. "These Mary Sues are very rarely attacked by the evil Men, have you noticed that?"
"Such a pity. Ooh! She's got Gollum after her..." Jay's smile got a little forced, and her eyes went glassy. "Poor little stinker, I just can't watch him fall into the fire again."
"Yeah, good, but we can't both be Gollum, and I'm quite sure neither of us will let the other have all the fun. Orcs it is."
"No, no, I know. I was just saying..." Jay packed her Polaroid quickly, eliciting a glare from Acacia. For her part, Acacia had never understood her friend's maternal affection for things scaly, dark, and slimy...
"Can we go now?" she demanded.
"Coming, coming." Jay tapped the keys to set their disguises and open the portal. "So impatient. This one's ignoring Boromir, you know..."
"Good," growled Acacia, grabbing her gear and stepping through.
Sure enough, the brave strains of Alien Ant Farm were echoing through the forest, even as the pair stepped into Middle-earth. Jay winced and slipped on a pair of headphones.
Acacia, without quite as much foresight as Jay, had neglected to bring along a Walkman and had to be content with plugging her ears with her fingers and humming "Everything You Want" to drown out the Mary Sue's singing.
"So when do we off her?" Jay mouthed. She watched the words of the world, looking for the true break in canon. Suddenly, she started. "BEFORE she starts getting poor Gollum out of character. And singing Linkin Park, worse..."
"... 'but he means nothing to you and you don't know why'—huh? Oh. Um..."
"She'll get herself captured by orcs, pretty soon—and then the Fellowship will break UP to find her. Sounds like a breach of canon to me—not that inserting a NEW Ring of Power isn't."
Acacia nodded. "Okay, so we shoot her just before that, right?"
"Absolutely. Or fall in with the orcs that take her—I hear Isengard is lovely this time of year."
"Yeah," Acacia agreed. "Hook up with the orcs, kill her instead of capturing. Sound good to you?"
"I like it. We can give Saruman some pointers. 'Lesson 1: Shooting is NOT too good for my enemies...'" Jay turned up the volume on her headphones and started to whistle unconcernedly. It would be some time—Galadriel had to claim the bint first, with tears and angst, and then she would run away like a brave little Sue... so easy.
"Yes, the Evil Overlord List," muttered Acacia, grinning, and then picked up where she'd left off in the song. "'But you'll just sit tight, and watch it unwind...'"
They walked for some time through the golden wood, enjoying the scenery. Jay borrowed her partner's Canon Analysis Device and waved it aimlessly whenever they came in contact with anyone. "Amazing. Only Legolas is Out of Order... and Galadriel, but she deserves it..."
Acacia peeked over her friend's shoulder at the various readouts. "More or less, but have you noticed that no one's totally in character? Better than major fiascoes, yes, but..." She shrugged, looked at the Words for awhile, and then said "Oh, good grief. You know, with great power may come great responsibility, but until it turns up wouldn't any normal person be saying 'Whee! Great Power! Yay!'?"
"It's not so bad as 'Rambling Band'." Jay was obviously in a forgiving mood. "Perhaps we can forgo feeding her live to the Watcher?"
"Well... okay," said Acacia reluctantly.
"What do we do until then?" said Jay. "I mean, now that we haven't got any cards..."
"I said I was sorry!" Acacia said defensively. "Anyway, you've got a Walkman. I didn't bring one."
"It's your own fault."
"I meant that you've got music to listen to."
Jay shrugged, sat back leaning against a tree, and put her headphones on, relaxing to the mind-numbing strains of harsh German industrial. Acacia sat on some of the softer items in her gear, back against a tree, and sang Lifehouse songs quietly to herself for a while.
After awhile Acacia tapped Jay on the shoulder. Jay took off her headphones and looked up.
"I think it's about time for the Sue to find out who she is and go running off in a fit of self-pity despite the fact that any normal person would be delighted," Acacia said, "and if we're going to be with the orcs when she's captured we may want to hurry. Should we go now?"
Jay nodded happily. "With a will." The Sue had been singing again, and most of Jay's sympathy for her was gone. "Always. Always they sing. Perfectly. And they're modest about it. That can't be right."
Acacia repacked the things she'd been sitting on, and looked around for the right direction. "Where did you get the impression anything to do with Mary Sues was going to be right?"
Jay shrugged. "I was lulled into a false sense of security by decent grammar."
Acacia grinned. "So, which way's Isengard?"
"Thisaway!" Jay wandered into the brush with a most un-orcish spring in her step.
Acacia followed, smiling in a faintly disturbing way.
"You look cheerful, dear. Something on your mind?"
"Nothing," said Acacia unconvincingly.
Jay, suitably unconvinced, made an odd whistling sound through her teeth and walked on. After a while, she paused and listened—there was the crunch of large feet, and the distinctive swish-thwap of branches being pushed out of the way to smack the face of the person behind the pusher. "Yrch."
Acacia nodded. Soon, about a dozen black-clad Uruk-hai came blundering through the bush—the pair simply fell in behind them, unnoticed.
"So," Jay said conversationally as they marched along. "What WERE you smiling about?"
"I was remembering something I read once. About this particular Mary Sue, actually. It was quite funny."
"Do you read MSTs? It was one of those."
"Wunderbar! This would be a great story to MST." Jay gave her the patented "sparkly paying attention" look—a bit out of place on an orc, really.
Acacia shrugged, and on an orc this also looked slightly incongruous. "They made some crack about whoopee cushions, as I recall. Don't remember word for word. Was quite silly."
"You'll have to show me when we get back to base." Now Jay was smiling oddly.
The conversation was broken off as the leader of the small party snarled something in Orcish, and everyone halted. He pointed out through the boughs of a low tree, where the Sue sat—fighting with Gollum. She had him in a choke hold, and was sneering an insult at him, when the little creature bit her.
"Yes! You go!" Jay clapped.
Acacia smiled faintly as the orcs headed forward, one knocking Phoenix out cold with the flat of his sword. "Who does the honors, you or me?" she asked.
"You got the last one."
Jay stepped forward and slung the unconscious girl over her shoulder. The orcs blinked oddly, trying to focus on her—short attention spans ran out, and they shrugged and wandered away.
"I love it when they're elves. So much lighter than humans." She started walking towards Isengard again. "Let's head this way 'til she wakes up, okay?"
"Why can't we just cut her throat while she's out of it?" wondered Acacia.
"We have to charge her. Really. It's in the ruuuules." Jay rolled her eyes and mumbled something that sounded a bit like "bloodthirsty." On her shoulder, the Sue slept on.
"She's taking her sweet time waking up," Acacia complained a while later.
"She was out like a light until she'd been in Orthanc for a while," Jay pointed out. "However, since we're about there, I recommend we dunk her in the Isen and see if that wakes her up."
"Okay," said Acacia. "Maybe she'll drown, too."
Jay raised an eyebrow. "Repeat after me: rules."
Acacia sighed. "Rules."
"Good girl!" Jay gave another disturbingly cheerful smile (especially disturbing, considering the teeth she was sporting at the moment). "Oh, here we are." She dropped the limp body roughly at the banks of the River Isen.
Acacia smiled faintly. "I'll write down the charge list for you while you wake her up, 'kay?"
Without a word, Jay picked the Sue up by the feet and dunked her headfirst in the murky water. When the elf girl started to thrash and splutter, Jay pulled her out and let her sprawl on the bank. "Wakey WAKEY!"
Acacia took the elf's shoulder, holding her upright, and handed the charge list to Jay, who read, "It is my duty to inform you that you have been charged with disrupting the canon by joining the Fellowship, bringing twenty-first century knowledge to Middle-earth, interfering with the characters of Galadriel and Legolas, being a Mary Sue, and really annoying Acacia—ACACIA!"
Acacia looked innocent.
"This is the last time YOU get to write the charge list." Jay turned back to the Sue. "And lastly, for getting yourself captured like an idiot and having the Fellowship break up just to rescue you." She thought for a moment. "And yelling at Gollum."
Acacia rolled her eyes. "Any last words?"
"What are you talking about?" asked Phoenix, looking frightened. "I didn't ask for this!"
Acacia snorted derisively. "Now that we've charged her, can we kill her already?"
"So bloodthirsty, Acy! Really—"
"Hold it." The Mary Sue stood up on her own feet, doing her best to look witty and defiant. "This is one of those 'good cop, bad cop' things, isn't it? I don't have to take this. If you were going to kill me, you would have—*"
Even a bad archer would have been hard pressed to miss at this close a range.
Jay looked down at the corpse. "I forget, Acacia, do orcs eat elf-flesh? I mean, as long as we're here—"
"Not sure. They eat humans, I know for a fact. Don't see why not."
A short time later, a few orcs were enjoying a surprise dinner, and Acacia and Jay were happily burdenless. Jay's Polaroid had been whisked out of her bag, and she was happily shooting at everything in sight.
"Job well done," said Acacia in a satisfied tone of voice. "Shall we go back?"
"I want to see Orthanc. I don't have a picture of Saruman yet..."
"Okay," said Acacia, who knew full well that it was useless to try and stop Jay taking pictures when she'd got into a touristy mood. Besides, she was rather curious about what the inside of Orthanc really looked like.
She quickly found out, as Jay dragged her through it enthusiastically. Pictures of Saruman were taken... as were pictures of books, doors, the floor, random pieces of furniture, and in a moment of overzealousness, Jay's thumb. "Home now!" she said suddenly, and almost tossed Acacia through the portal.
Acacia recovered her balance quickly, gave Jay a dirty look, and sat down again in her seat.
Jay smiled brightly, and reached into her pockets. "Ta-da!" A pack of battered black foretelling cards fanned out in her hand.
"Where did you get those?!" Acacia exclaimed.
"He wasn't using them. He's going to die by the last book. And they're never explicitly mentioned—" The stream of rationalization was dazing.
"You stole them."
"When you say stolen—"
"I mean you took them out of Orthanc without asking, when they didn't belong to you."
"Slightly stolen, maybe..."
"How can they be slightly stolen?"
"I wouldn't need them if you hadn't shot up mine—"
"That's hardly an excuse—"
Now, gentle reader, let us retire. Because they're going to go on like this for quite a while...
[Acacia's A/N: Acacia's starting to scare me. And that's sad, because I'm her. We only got one Mary Sue suggestion this time, people! Surely you know some you'd like killed? Anyway, it's a new chapter. And Jay got some new cards.]
[Jay's A/N: "One's a bloodthirsty killer. One's a flake with a Polaroid. They fight crime!" Or something to that effect. I want to thank everyone who's reviewed this story. We appreciate it greatly! A special thank you to Architeuthis, who reported this story... The obligatory apologies to Kaos Girl... Oh, and if you haven't read the MST of the story "Chosen," do so! Now! Read it!]