Jay sat cross-legged in her seat, looking most uncomfortable.
Acacia was just leaning forward, propping her head up on her arms. This was as uncomfortable as she was about to deliberately be.
[Bip.] The machine had decided to remember its latest volume reduction.
"Well, that's a start," Jay said sourly, unfolding herself.
"Well, I'm sorry."
Lines of text scrolled slowly up Jay's screen.
"... Did you know that lightning does indeed strike the same place twice?"
Acacia blinked. "Your meaning?"
"And so does badfic," Jay sighed.
"... Same author as some other one?"
"Yes indeedy. But THIS time, it's a Code 10."
"I hate when that happens," said Acacia sourly.
"I thought Mithril was bad enough." Jay's eyes widened. "WHAT?!"
"The character inserts herself in the Fellowship by saying that NINE IS NOT A LOGICAL NUMBER!"
"And she made Elrond agree with her!" Jay's voice rose steadily in volume until it made things rattle.
Acacia winced. Almost all assassins became outright homicidal when their favorite characters were interfered with. She suspected this was deliberate on the part of the Department of Personnel.
"Ooh, look." You could have melted through plate steel with Jay's voice. "She has a magical necklace of Mary-Sueness."
"Something for the charge list, then," said Acacia. "Owning a deus-ex-machina-plot-device magical item."
Jay picked up her gear angrily—then dropped it. "Wait. With that D.E.M. Jewelry, how are we supposed to kill her?"
Acacia shrugged. "Take it off her first?"
"Hope it works." Jay picked up her gear again, and paused with a hand over the control panel. "Elves again? I want to get her as quickly as possible."
"Not something I'm likely to get tired of," said Acacia happily.
"Wish someone'd go to Fangorn. Then we could be Ents."
Acacia shrugged. "It'd be an interesting change, I'll admit. Shall we go?"
"We shall go."
Acacia smiled. "Then open the portal."
Jay tapped out the coordinates—a goodly way from Rivendell, because a walk would clear both of their heads.
Acacia picked up her gear, and stepped through. There was a thud as Jay landed heavily behind her.
"Yes, why did you set the coordinates to a point two feet in the air, Jay?"
"I like jumping," Jay said simply, demonstrating with an Angry Elven Bunny Hop.
Acacia rolled her eyes, then shrugged. "But I did remember to bring my Walkman this time, so." She pulled out a pair of headphones and put them on. "'Why does it feel like night today? Something in here's not right today...'"
"Cute. But my CDs keep skipping..." Jay stated, already falling under the godawful grammar of the tainted universe.
They walked in silence for a short time. Finally, Jay spoke up. "Don't complain about the coordinates. I could have portaled us to the spoiled brat's house. In England. So we could watch her be heartlessly abandoned by her parents, I shed a tear, on her birthday."
Acacia winced. (The volume was down low enough that she could hear her surroundings.) "Okay, I take it back. I don't want to have to watch Spoiled Brat Angst."
"Or next to the house where someone gives her the magic necklace of Mary Sueness for no reason..." Jay snickered.
"Or that. She probably tried to be Dramatic about it, am I right?"
"Quite so. He said whoever used it had to be... what was it? Brave?"
Acacia glanced at the Words for a moment. "And kind. And she said she was as kind as possible, despite the fact she'd just revealed herself as a stalker, broken a window that didn't belong to her, stolen some apples... oh, and manifested a 'dagger with jewels on it' out of nowhere."
"Oh, yes, the contents of her magical sack..." Jay took a deep breath, and recited, "A couple outfits, pop (diet, regular, and Mountain Dew), Chex Mix, chips, candy, the Lord of the Rings series, her collection of Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood information, makeup, hair stuff, earrings, a bottle of water that her mother got her from the holy rivers, a dagger with jewels on it, a small tooth brush and thing of tooth paste, a couple of blankets, a pillow, a cute stuffed animal of a donkey (from Winnie the Pooh), gum, and a couple other useful things." Jay had, at this point, run out of air. "Periods!" she wheezed, shortage of breath overriding the urge to "state" it.
"She mucks with the Wraiths, too," stated Acacia, then groaned. "Not with the stateds again..."
"Wraiths? Mucks? Wheres?" Jay looked at the words. "Oh. Bugger. The magical necklace of Mary Sueness turned their blades."
Acacia nodded. "So, how long is this before the Council?"
"Several days. Weeks maybe. So says the fic..." Jay groaned. "Why is Elrond using his powers to heal HER? It's not worth it, I swear."
"And they're speaking Elvin. I ask you. No, wait, I state. Damn unimaginative author."
"No, we've got 'Elvish' down here..." Jay closed her eyes and looked ill. "I'm going to portal us ahead to the point at which she crashes the Council. I'm not waiting 'several days.'"
Jay opened a new portal, two feet off the ground (again), and leaped through it.
Acacia, however, understandably expecting that the portal had been opened to the exact same place but a different time, fell over painfully when she went through. "Ow!" she stated.
"'To the point.' That means the time and place." Jay ducked behind a pillar just in time to avoid being seen by Gwendolyn as she drifted down to join the Council.
Elrond said something in "Elvin," apparently a totally different language from the Elvish used in the canon and the rest of the fic.
"What?" Gwendolyn asked, surprisingly clueless.
"I see that you are arisen." Elrond stated.
"What were you speaking?"
"Elvish." Elrond stated.
Jay whimpered and slumped against a pillar.
"No, it was Elvin," Acacia stated. "Can't they at least not contradict themselves?"
"A star shines at the hour of our meeting, lord..." Gwendolyn stated in Elvish, for no apparent reason.
"I am lord Elrond, and this is the secret council to discuss the ring." Elrond stated. Jay broke down into full fledged sobbing.
Acacia patted her on the back. "It'll be okay," she stated.
"That's bloody logical," Jay sniffed through her tears. "A complete stranger just asked me what I'm doing. I'll tell her all about my secret Council—" her shoulders heaved.
"Don't worry, we'll fix it." Acacia peered around a pillar again. The Mary Sue, oddly enough, didn't seem to be paying much attention to the Council at all.
Legolas stood up to challenge Boromir with Aragorn's lineage: a fight erupted, and GWENDOLYN stood up to hold back a few angry elves.
Acacia's eyes watered as the Sue put the Ring on her bracelet and fastened it around Frodo's neck. Some fanfics can be really optically challenging.
As the nine were assembled, she did something unforgivable.
"I don't see the logic of nine."
"What number do you suggest lady?" Asked Elrond.
Acacia was slightly relieved at the lack of a statement, but Jay cringed at the image of Elrond asking a complete stranger for advice on something so important.
"If Frodo is going to be in fact fighting the dark lord himself—"
"—which was not in fact proposed at any point in the Council," Acacia stated sourly.
"—then maybe another should go with them and then there would be enough for the nine and the dark lord," Gwendolyn stated. Elrond looked pained, straining to say something. But finally, he was forced to state "Then you shall go."
Jay's hands twitched convulsively into claws... and then reached back to dip into her pack.
"My name is Gwendolyn Elizabeth Huntington, and I am the tenth."
"Must she be so melodramatic?" Acacia asked, using one of the few "asked" taglines available to ease the horribleness of the scene.
"We are the fellowship of the ring." Mary Sue stated happily—
The entire Council heard the scream of rage. An elf, a stranger to all of them, stalked out from behind a pillar, her face flaming red, her hands at an even distance from each other, as if she were holding something.
Another elf, only slightly less tall, scrambled out from behind the same pillar, looking faintly startled. "Enough of anything," she stated under her breath, "is far too much..."
"GWENDOLYN. ELIZABETH. HUNTINGTON." The first elf marched up to her, face contorted in anger. "You are hereby charged with fictional tampering by the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. Stand and hear your charges."
A few elves stood up, looking worried for Gwendolyn's sake.
"Sit down," Elrond stated calmly.
The second elf cleared her throat. "Er. You're charged with disrupting the canon by joining the Fellowship of the Ring, manifesting weapons, owning a stupid deus-ex-machina-plot-device-magical-item, causing the Ringwraiths—all nine—to become very unimpressive indeed, making EVERYONE state everything... and I'm sure Jay wants to charge you with the other stuff..."
"For yanking everyone out of character, most ESPECIALLY Lord Elrond. For coming to idiotic conclusions and causing others to do so as well. For RUINING the numerical symbolism Tolkien established. For carrying large heavy backpacks and calling them light, and otherwise screwing with weights. For screwing with grammar. For not even TRYING to be consistent. For usurping Frodo's symbolic actions. For being, and I stress this—for BEING A MARY SUE, you are condemned to die!"
Legolas leaped to his feet.
"Hold your temper, Prince of Mirkwood," Elrond stated through gritted teeth.
Jay looked obscurely proud. Acacia stepped forward, hit Gwendolyn hard, unclasped the silvery piece of ridiculous jewelry while she was stunned, and picked her up. "What shall we do with this one?"
"You won't do ANYTHING with me!" Gwendolyn shrieked, hammering at Acacia with feet and fists. "Let me down right now! Let me—urk." Jay had wrapped her invisible yarn round her neck and choked her wind off.
Legolas strode towards them, but it really was amazing how quickly Jay could have an arrow notched as an elf. "I recommend sitting back down," she stated.
Legolas, now wavering in and out of character, was slow to respond. "You have no right—"
A portal appeared next to him, and he recoiled. Silently, Jay and Acacia marched through, leaving the Council in disarray.
"It's dark again, Jay..."
"And it'll stay dark; I don't want to upset her."
"What her—oh. Gotcha."
A faint luminescence appeared down the tunnel, a sort of sickly green.
"She's coming," Jay hissed, and then looked surprised. "Wake, Sue!" She delivered a ringing slap across the girl's face.
Acacia dropped the girl quickly as she began to thrash again. "Let's just leave her," she stated, grinning in the darkness and rummaging in the pack the Sue had had strapped to her back until she found the dagger. She turned to the Sue. "You are the weakest link," she stated softly. "Goodbye!"
Jay grabbed the backpack, and smiled, the faint light only catching her eyes and teeth—most unpleasant.
And then they were gone in the click of a portal, leaving Gwendolyn Elizabeth Huntington alone, without weapons or necklace, in the lair of a very hungry Shelob.
"Do you think that unicorn skin's been lying around long enough?" asked Acacia speculatively.
"I don't doubt it. And we need to get the stuffed head from Lux, too."
"You go get the head."
"I said I would." Jay dug in the pilfered pack. "Look—bottled water. It's 'holy.'"
"And she brought this to Middle-earth why?"
"It was in her amazingly light pack." Back in something approaching reality, the pack had become quite heavy indeed.
Acacia nodded. "But why did she want to bring it with her? Or am I trying to apply sense to the insensible?"
"The latter." Jay shook it curiously. "I was thinking the SO or the Marquis might like it..."
"Presents for flowers." Acacia smiled faintly. "Have you ever had one of those moments where you suddenly realize how ridiculous your life is?"
Jay blinked. "Nooo?"
"I just had one."
"Ah." There was a pause. "Your life is ridiculous?"
Acacia gave her a skeptical look. "Do you really not get what I am saying?"
"Nope. What's ridiculous about it?"
"Presents for talking flowers?"
"Giving presents to REGULAR flowers wouldn't make sense, now would it?"
"Talking flowers are fairly bizarre in the first place—"
"Yes, but bananas don't swim, and that's a basic characteristic of fish!"
"They are exploiting a new niche."
"Fish," said Acacia sourly, "cannot live outside of water."
"Yes, but those are echinoderms!" The argument had long since passed the point where it had anything at all to do with the original subject.
Jay looked horrified. "Then why do they have 'fish' in the name?"
"Because the person who named them apparently thought everything living in water was a fish! Cuttlefish aren't fish either, you know!"
"WHAT? Oh, we're here."
"Here" was Makes-Things' lab, current repository for one unicorn pelt and a neurotic inventor.
Acacia opened the door. "'Ello!" she announced, and stepped in.
There was a clatter of tools, and the young man who'd been standing behind a workbench had suddenly disappeared.
Acacia looked insulted. "Oh, come on. Are we that scary?"
"Scary? Whatever gave you that idea? I respect you very highly," said the workbench.
Acacia looked slightly mollified. "We're getting the fur we left in here awhile ago."
"Back room. Er... where did you get it, exactly? Just curious..."
"She was one of the Mary Sues. Turned into a unicorn."
"Not US. Luxury."
"Oh." Implicit in the tone was the implication that the speaker would believe just about anything of Luxury short of her having taken a vow of chastity.
Jay came out of the back room, the pelt draped heavily over one shoulder. "Here. Carry this."
"Arright..." Acacia picked it up and managed to semi-neatly fold it with one hand and her teeth.
"You're displaying Magical Mary-Sue-Like Powers..." Jay glared.
"No, I've just had practice," said Acacia haughtily. "And Mary-Sue-Like Powers are generally a lot more dignified than getting a mouthful of fur. It does not taste good."
"Righty. I'm off to get the head; meet you back in the response center." Jay wandered out the door and disappeared.
She didn't wait until she'd gotten in the door to start talking. "She even had Sean mount it on a frame, isn't it nice? And he stained it, too, it's going to match the decor really well—"
"What decor?" said Acacia. "Or are we redecorating?"
"We have decor..." Jay motioned vaguely. "There's—there's—chairs. And wall, lots of wall. And some console." Acacia rolled her eyes.
Jay chose a point high on the metal wall, and marked it off with a pencil. She stepped back and inspected this. Then, she turned to Acacia and smiled. "Any suggestions?"
"I suggest you take the skin off me and put it wherever you were wanting it to go; I'm tired of holding it."
Jay did, spreading it across the floor like a rug. "Now. Do you have any suggestions on how to mount the head?"
"Never done it before."
"Screws are out of the question. We could ask Makes-Things for a really good magnet..."
Acacia shrugged. "Go ahead. But I'm getting sick of him hiding every time I turn up. I cannot think why he does it."
"Unless you have a better idea, we'll just have to run back."
"I have none. Go ahead."
Jay ran out again. When she scuttled back in five minutes later, she was breathing hard, a circular piece of metal clutched tightly.
"We are going to have the strangest-looking room in all Headquarters," said Acacia mildly.
Jay ignored her, carefully wrapping the wire from the back of plaque around the magnet. She carefully held it up to the wall, which it stuck firmly to.
"It sort of sticks out from the wall," said Acacia dubiously, "but I really can't think of any way to make it work otherwise."
"I think it looks nice."
Acacia shrugged. "And what should we do with this?" she wondered, holding up the Sue's necklace.
"It'd look nice on the wall, too. And we could use double-sided tape, or a suction hook..."
Breathing hard, Jay stood back. "Wow. We have a tacky decorating scheme." It was true: the incredible deus ex machina necklace hung opposite the blue stuffed unicorn, which in turn offset the knife proudly showcased on the console.
"I still don't think unicorns should be blue."
"Nope. They really oughtn't. They've been given vampires, werewolves, and talking trees—and they STILL aren't happy."
"Ungrateful cretins," said Acacia lazily, curling up catlike on the unicorn rug, which was surprisingly comfortable.
Acacia's console started flashing. "Oooh. You don't know the half of it." Jay raised her eyebrows at the screen, and hit the print key.
"What's happened, then?"
Jay handed her the printout silently.
To the occupants of PPC DMS Response Center F:
Come to the mail depot and claim your package. Before it sets the depot on fire.
Acacia sat up and yawned. "Less go, then."
"Goody. I like Otik, he's funny—" Jay dug all the way to the bottom of her pack, finally pulling out two oven mitts and a thick apron.
Acacia attired herself similarly, and they headed out the door.
"Where did you get those? I found these so I could cuddle the mini-Balrogs at OFUM."
"I've been in flame wars."
"Really? I haven't. What are they like?"
Acacia smiled thinly.
"We are heeeeere."
"Yes, well, we're always here. Where here is just changes," Acacia pointed out rather pedantically.
"Well, here is now the mail depot." Jay stuck her tongue out.
Acacia grinned. "So, what did they want to give us?"
"Dunno." Jay knocked.
You're here? Are you here? Please be here, please please please... the mental echoes sounded adolescent. They also carried the psychic equivalent of a Czechoslovakian accent you could cut with a knife.
"Er... if 'you' is us, then yes," said Acacia.
The door swung open, revealing a very upset looking... face... sort of. On further inspection, it was just a piece of wood. Only the egotistical and paranoid subconscious would turn it into a face.
You're you, said the piece of wood. Two wooden tentacles snaked out and yanked the Protectors bodily inside, throwing them towards a large parcel. The parcel was smoking, slightly.
Acacia picked herself up with as much dignity as possible. "You did not need to do that."
Get it OUT! I'm wearing three coats of industrial varnish!
Acacia gingerly picked up the parcel. "Why are you so panicked?"
Do you know how fast varnish burns? Do you? The seven-foot entity that was Otik huddled in the corner, every extension pulled as far from the smoldering package as possible.
"Oh," said Acacia, catching on. "So where are we supposed to put it?"
I... don't know. Roast marshmallows, maybe.
Jay's eyes got an unholy gleam in.
Acacia grinned. "Come on, Jay... let's get somewhere less flammable with it."
"What is it?" Jay (a determined non-combatant) asked naively.
Acacia wrapped the package in her apron, and opened the door to go. "Flames."
[Acacia's A/N: We've been flamed! ~cheerfully~ See my part-response-part-rant-part-essay in the reviews. Everyone tell us what they think we should do with the flames; we've got several good ideas (Mary Sue cremation, barbecue...) but you can never have too many. And yes, this was by the author of "Mithril." Some people don't learn. It was also MSTed by the MSTer of "Mithril," and it was funny. Thank you to all the legitimate reviewers, and to the flamers for providing entertainment.]
[Jay's A/N: In my zeal to welcome the long-awaited guests of the board, I misspelled the names of both Tolkien (MHRIP) and Camilla Sandman, a writer whom I am not fit to tie the shoes of. (Think I'm over-reacting? Bet YOU'VE never been threatened with GrammarBootCamp.) I also harshly transplanted a stately Czechoslovakian myth—the Otesanek—and a dedicated film writer's vision of said myth—Little Otik—and used them for my own purposes. For all these things, I apologize.
For not including the names of the authors who originally penned our targets, I apologize, as well. This is basic etiquette practiced by MSTers.
For co-writing this story, I make no apologies.
And Acy, Mithril's writer never showed up, did she?]