After Echo and Kat had seen Vyctori off to her department, they opened the portal to their own headquarters and stepped through.
"Well, that was an experience!" Echo commented, rubbing the back of her head as she plopped down in her chair by the bed. "I think I'm going to have a permanent fear of punctuation now!" She kicked off her shoes and leaned back. "Okay, I don't care how bad a Sue the next one is. Short of a major Heath-bashing incident, I'm not moving from this chair for one hour. That's all I ask, is one hour."
Kat, on the other hand, had seen a message blinking on the console in the corner and had immediately bounded over to it, her tail swishing. She glanced up at her partner. "Er, I really wouldn't bet on that, Echo." She pointed at the screen. "Says here that the Foxglove Official wants to see you ASAP. It doesn't mention anything about me, so I assume I'm not invited."
"What?" Echo sat up quickly, surprised.
"Better you than me!" Kat commented, moving aside as her partner quickly strode over to read the message for herself. "The Foxglove is creepy!"
Echo was too busy reading the message to answer. After a moment, she looked up and sighed. "It looks like more training. In bad slash. Oh, I can hardly wait!" she added sarcastically.
"I wonder why they didn't include me?" Kat wondered aloud. "Not that I'm complaining or anything!" she quickly added.
Echo just turned to look at her. "You . . . in bad slash . . . not really a good thing."
Kat pouted as only a cat-person could. "That really wasn't nice." She thought for a moment. "Although, I really should consider myself lucky, as now you're the one going into the Athos/Nils stories!"
"Nah, those are pretty rare. Most are of the 'Bishie One plus Bishie Two equals Slash' nature," Echo informed her.
"Ooh! Or Athos/Nergal!" Kat said excitedly. "Hannah/Vaida! Nino/Ninian! Wallace/Matthew! Nils/Marcus!"
"Kat!" Echo chucked a random book at her partner's head. "You're really not helping here!"
Kat ducked, avoiding the book, then twitched an ear. "Say, what am I supposed to do while you're gone?"
Echo shrugged as she began to pack her bag with things she could possibly need. "Wait, I suppose, until I get back. Take apart a blender or something. It shouldn't take too long."
Kat looked thoughtful. "I wonder if there's a Sue I could take care of while you're gone . . . ."
"No!" Echo whirled around quickly. "No, Kat! Bad kitty! The last thing I need to do is to come back and find you turning a Sue fic into a giant kitty playplace. No, you're absolutely not to go unless you have someone to supervise you!"
"Fine!" Kat sat and pouted in a corner.
Echo sighed and swung her bag up over her shoulder. "I shouldn't be too long. Be a good kitty while I'm gone, and I'll bring you some fish sticks from the food court on the way back, okay?"
Kat just swished her tail in annoyance, not looking at her partner, though her ears did perk up and swivel in Echo's direction when she heard the words "fish sticks." Suddenly she got a devilish look on her face and turned to her partner.
"The ultimate slash!" she grinned cruelly. "Heath/Hyperion!"
Echo had just about stepped out the door when Kat said that, and froze with one foot in front of her as her mind processed that information. After a moment, she recovered from the shock and gave a long, cold glare at her partner. "Bad kitty! No fish sticks!"
Kat pouted. "Aww!"
Echo stepped out of the All-Purpose Department of Rekka no Ken and glanced around. Okay . . . the Foxglove Official's office. It was just a short way down that hall, but Echo knew from experience that she could never get there if she was trying to. The best way to get anywhere in PPC Headquarters was to not try and get there.
Well, what could she think of that would distract her? Unfortunately, the first thing that popped into her mind was Kat's last remark.
"Dear Cans of Dr. Pepper, no!" Echo groaned. "I'm not going to think about Heath/Hyperion. No fangirl would be stupid enough to write something like that. No, it'll never happen, I don't have to worry about it, I'm not going to think about it, gah!"
She starting walking, trying as hard as she could not to think of that particular pairing. In fact, she was thinking so hard about not thinking about it that she forgot to think about anything else.
Echo rubbed her nose ruefully, glaring at the door she had just run into, then grinned. "Foxglove Official's office! Good! I'm here!" she said to nobody in particular.
"You know, talking to yourself is considered a sign of insanity," a voice behind her informed her.
Echo grinned and shrugged, turning to the tall girl with shoulder-length brown hair standing behind her. "Yeah, but I'd think you'd be used to that here!"
"True enough," the lady agreed. She glanced at the door. "Well, it seems that we're both heading towards the same destination." She stuck out a hand. "Agent Dots, Bad Slash."
Echo shook the hand. "Must be the person I'm going to train with, eh? Agent Echo Kazul, All-Purpose Department of Rekka no Ken."
Dots raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, they told me I was going to train an agent, but they didn't give me the details. Fire Emblem, eh? Great game!"
"Yeah, it is!" Echo agreed. "It's also riddled with Sues. Keeps us busy."
Dots shrugged. "It's the way with most continua. Bad slash is getting out of hand, as well. Keeps us all working overtime."
"Well, shall we?" Echo nodded towards the door. "I suppose it's not wise to keep a flower official waiting."
Dots nodded and shoved the door open. Echo followed her as they walked in.
A tall, thin plant sat behind the desk, covered with several purple, bell-shaped flowers. It turned in its chair to study them as they walked in, its face apparently on the second to top flower. Echo sighed. Every bell-like flower had a different personality, which was rotated, making every visit with the Foxglove Official a new experience. She briefly wondered what the personality today was going to be. Couldn't be as bad as last time, Echo decided. Alvin from the Chipmunks was about as annoying as it could get, especially when it started to sing in that high squeaky voice.
So, the Foxglove Official said with the second to top flower. You finally made it. That is good. I don't like to be kept waiting. It was strange, but Echo could swear that it had a husky Italian accent.
"Meh," Dots said, waving her hand nonchalantly. "We didn't take all that long."
Still, it is good that you came, the Foxglove Official said, sitting back and pressing its leaves-for-arms together thoughtfully. I have called you before me to discuss a matter that pains me deeply. It seems that there are certain authors in fanfiction that lack a certain respect for the well-being of others.
Ah. The Godfather. Interesting personality, but most definitely not the worst.
"Thought we had that fact established already." Dots nodded. "That's why we have these jobs, isn't it?"
The Foxglove Official nodded. Yes, that is true. But it seems as if these authors grow more numerous each day. Although Sues are indeed still a bother, there is a new threat rising. That is why I called you two lovely ladies in, as I knew that you had the skills and proficiency that I'm looking for to take care of this problem.
"In other words, you want me to train her in dealing with bad slash." Dots rolled her eyes. "Why didn't you just say so in the first place?"
The Foxglove Official ignored her. So, I can trust that this little problem will be taken care of? It turned to them. I would hate to lose any sleep over this. I tend to be . . . not so nice . . . when I lose sleep.
Echo rolled her eyes. "Sure," she said. "We'll get right on it."
Good. I hope that there aren't any problems, and we shall get along well.
"Yeah, I hope so," Echo said dryly.
As she and Dot stepped out of the room, they heard the Foxglove's voice change into a heavy Austrian accent.
Hasta la vista, babies!
"My boss is a flower with a multiple personality disorder." Dots sighed. "Since when did life get so complicated?"
Echo looked sympathetic. "Hey, one time it thought it was Elvis. Be thankful."
"Well, bad slash in Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken, here we come!" Dots declared bravely. She pondered for a moment. "Besides, most of the guys there are bishies! How hard could it be?"
Echo thought of Kat's parting words for a moment and shuddered. "Believe me, you don't want to know!"
Back in Dots' tiny office, the two agents got ready.
"Okay, the first thing we'll do is scout out the story and make sure it's a bad slash, then we'll perform an exorcism and, if we need to, kill the offending presence," Dot said, stuffing a bag with anything she might need.
"Ooh, I like that part!" Echo grinned. As she was already packed, she was sitting perched on the edge of the table.
Dots turned to the console. "Hmm . . . got the assignment all ready, just need disguises." She turned back to glance at Echo. "Say, Wyvern Riders okay with you?"
Echo stared at her for a moment, and then chuckled. "I'd say I love you, but as this is the Department of Bad Slash and all . . . ."
"Let me guess, Heath fan?" Dots questioned, grinning. "He's near the top of my lust list as well. Pent is up there, too, but as he's already taken . . . Lucius is cute as well, but more cuddly than anything."
"Heh, probably the most rabid Heath fan in the entire PPC!" Echo said with a hint of pride.
"Well, Wyvern Rider disguise done!" Dots said cheerfully, finishing punching the necessary buttons. She glanced at Echo. "Okay, ready to go?"
"As ready as I'll ever be!" Echo nodded, grabbing her bag as she hopped off the table.
Dots nodded and pushed the final button and a portal rushed open. "And here we go!" She grinned, and hopped in. Echo followed.
Echo stepped through the portal to where Dots was waiting. Unfortunately, she was used to portals being tipped over at an odd angle and had adjusted her body for such a landing. That a portal would be normal escaped her, and her arms flailed as she tried to regain her balance. She failed, and would've fallen, but for a tail that snaked behind her and righted her back to her feet.
"Huh?" Echo glanced around, confused, then her eyes fell on the owner of the tail, a wyvern. She squealed happily.
Dots grinned at her atop her own wyvern. She was dressed in the armor of the Wyvern Riders and looked quite intimidating. "Heh, this disguise rocks, doesn't it?"
Echo agreed as she patted her wyvern on the head, listening to it growl in contentment. "I shall call him . . . Skittles! After a pet iguana I had!"
Skittles looked very content with Echo scratching the spot behind his head-crest, and didn't object.
Dots raised an eyebrow. "An iguana named Skittles?"
Echo nodded happily. She didn't seem to see anything unusual about that. "Yup!"
Dots stared, then shook her head. "I suppose whatever works!" She looked thoughtful as she patted the wyvern underneath her. "And this will be . . . Aureola, after my favorite spell!"
"Good name!" Echo nodded. She glanced around. "So, what are we looking for here?"
Dots nodded. "It's a Karel/Stu bad slash, so we need to both kill the Stu and exorcise Karel."
"Karel?!" Echo looked shocked and slightly disturbed. "Sure, shove him on a newbie! He'll probably try to shish-kabob us as soon as we're done! And how can anybody try and put him reasonably in a slash and keep him within character?"
"Well, the author admitted herself that she knew almost nothing about Karel, as she didn't get him in the game."
"And she's writing about him why?" Echo grumbled. She glanced up at Skittles and frowned. "And how do you get up to the saddle?!"
Dots looked smug from her perch atop Aureola. "Just put your foot in the stirrup and swing up!"
Echo grumbled, and, after several painful incidents of eating dirt, she finally managed to get up in the saddle.
Dots, who had been chortling silently, nodded. "Well, this shouldn't take us too long. Shall we venture off into the world of bad slash and get this over with?"
"I can hardly wait," Echo grumbled, trying to dust off her dented and dusty Wyvern Rider's armor. She gave an "eep" as Skittles suddenly took off into the air and clutched the reins tightly.
It didn't take long by wyvern-back to reach the edge of a battlefield, the battle apparently almost over with.
Aureola came to a graceful landing, her wings raising dust as they flapped, and Dots slid off and patted the wyvern on the head, who arched her neck happily and made a pleased growling noise.
Echo, on the other hand, fell more than slid off, and ended up eating dirt again. Skittles bent down and sniffed his master curiously. Echo put her hand on his snout and pushed him away as she sat up. She glared at Dots. "You've had this disguise before, haven't you?!"
Dots looked slightly guilty and offered a hand to help the agent up. "Yeah, quite a few times. It actually takes a lot of practice."
"I could tell," Echo groaned. She tried to straighten her wind-ruffled hair, gave up, and looked around. "So . . . now what?"
"Well, we watch those two." Dots pointed to a Stu fighting and a Karel watching him intently. "We make sure it's a bad slash, kill the Stu, and if that isn't enough to help Karel, we exorcise the author's spirit and send him on his merry way."
"Or run like heck and hope he doesn't kill us?" Echo suggested.
"That too," Dots agreed.
The two agents set their attention to the Stu, keeping an eye on the Words as well. It was apparently written from the Stu's point of view.
I couldn't help but watch you, fighting on the battle field, and it scared me. Scared me so bad. I stepped back, wanting to run, but my legs trembled and would not carry me away from you. Do you know me? Do you know that I exist?
I draw my own sword as an archer approaches and attack, killing instantly. And I feel eyes on me. ... Your eyes. Why are you watching me? You examine my every move, every rise and fall of my chest as I breathe, and it makes me shudder. Why are you staring at me like that? Why won't you look away?
My own eyes are drawn towards you and our eyes meet. I shiver. Your eyes feel like they're burning into me, seeing into my eyes like mere glass windows that allow in the outside world, but keep it away all at the same time. Why? I feel like you see into my heart, my soul, my very being.
I plead with my mind for you to look away, but my heart wants you to stay. To wrap your arm around me, to hold me close, whisper in my ear...
What am I thinking?
"Well, this is just out of the blue," Echo commented. "Apparently he's never even talked to the Sword Demon, and he's turned on."
"Most of them are abrupt," Dot agreed. "Just slap two bishies together and satisfy the eager fangirl, I suppose. Or, if you want, make up a bishie. It's not like it's trash cluttering up the fanfiction world and making it hard to sort through it all to find a decent fic!"
The battle is over and I look away from you, heading to camp. My hands are sweating and my heart is pounding, and the blood rushes through my veins, and it makes me tremble, I feel your eyes on my back. I know what you're thinking. You just want my blood. We are so alike, yet so very different.
I hear someone say my name and look around, and see it's you. My blood is thundering through my brain now. 'Run! Run!' part of me says, my brain. 'Stay where you are.' Says my heart. How can I do wither, when I want to do both?
"This is so cheesy, it hurts." Dots looked pained. Aureola snorted in agreement.
Echo looked slightly ill as well. "This reminds me of that horrible grocery store romance that I had the misfortune of reading once. Same horrible dialogue and everything."
You are coming towards me. With your steps, I hear my heart pound. 'Turn around...' I will you with my mind, I see you pause for a moment, then resume walking. 'Stop...' I beg mentally. You don't even waver this time.
"Kana," you say. It seems to flow from your mouth so easily as if you had said it a hundred times. I shudder again, and try desperately to say your name in reply.
I look down, I don't want you to look at me. I do so bad, but I don't because it hurts me. But the pain is emotional, I want something I can't have.
"...Are you afraid?"
"... ... ... A.. Little..."
"I suppose we'll hafta make a charge list against the Stu." Echo nodded, a little more comfortable now that she was in her area of expertise. "The first charge would be making Karel OOC."
"Well, the poor guy can't help it. It's the Stu." Dots nodded. "Although I am a little curious about the Stu-killing part. It must be nice to go through a horrible story and be able to mangle something at the end."
"You have no idea," Echo said with satisfaction. She looked thoughtful. "Y'know, since I'm such a nice person and all, I'll share and let you kill the Stu if you want. I've killed plenty."
"Really?" Dots flashed her a happy grin. "That's so kind of you!"
This pain is worse that what I felt when I got my scars on my face... my earliest memory, for when I was attacked, amnesia overtook my memory. Watching your steady steps causes my blood to pound once more. Why can't I relax? I have stared almost certain death in the face and not thought twice. But when my eyes met you, emotion, pain, and fright grasped my heart like a huge beast, causing it to thump in my chest. Why? I keep wondering why you can look at me so calmly when the thought of you makes my head swim?
Echo sighed. "And there has to be an angsty and mysterious past. Can't go without that!" Skittles grumbled in sympathy and nuzzled her back. She patted him on the nose comfortingly.
"Look at me."
Your command takes a few moments to sink into my brain, which feels incredibly swollen. I slowly lift my eyes and they meet your brown eyes. Such a strong brown, while mine are mismatched. One of red-orange, one of gold. Your eyes so calm, so strong. I know mine must be quivering with nervousness. Nervousness and fright.
"I'm guessing the whole eye thing is a charge?" Dots asked.
Echo nodded as she studied the Stu. "And look how horrible the two colors look together. It really just makes the one eye look bloodshot and sickly."
"Who knows the mind of Stus?" Dots quoted.
"...Are you... going to kill me?"
"No! That's our job!" Echo said cheerfully.
"... My sword longs for your blood."
"... But my heart longs for something else..."
"And there goes Karel," Dots said sadly. "Definite proof he's not himself."
What? Did you... what in Elibe... I close my eyes and shake my head, stepping back, legs trembling.
"...Don't... toy with me..."
Your voice is firm and it sounds as though you could never lie. Your hand in on my shoulder and you pull me close to you, and I feel your heartbeat against my chest. I'm sure you feel mine. I slowly open my eyes and see yours. I shiver with the intensity of your eyes. You are holding me there.
" ... Karel... Why..."
"I've heard of you. The only swordsman that ever even came close to my skill. Yet you seem so vulnerable as I hold you here, like a child."
"Back up the train there!" Echo protested. "If Karel's heard of him and his Stu Skills, he'd have sought him out and killed him before they met here! That's what he does!"
Dots nodded. "Canon breach. Most definitely."
"You have been said to have killed hundreds of men and stared death in the face and not sweat. Get you tremble before me. What do you fear?"
How can I answer something like that? How can I say what I fear, when I don't know myself? I want to grasp your clothes and cry into your chest, cry of the pain I've felt, cry of the hurt that forces my blood to flow. But I don't want to embarrass myself. I feel my strength returning and I pull away from you, turning my back to you, my voice retrieving it's harsh tone, and I replace my mask of emotionlessness.
"... ... Karel, the Sword Demon. I beg your leave."
"I'll not grant it. Look back to me."
I defy you and walk forward, towards camp. I then feel you grasp my shoulder and spin me to face you, and you draw closer to me.
"... Don't move."
Closer, closer, I feel you breathe. Your previous words hold me in place, the only thing I do is gasp as your lips hit mine. Your hand slink around my waist and hold me against you. And I know what I do surprises you.
I kiss you back fully, slinking my arms around your neck, and kiss you with all my heart. Our hearts beat together as one, and I can't help but smile through the kiss. I don't want this to end, but slowly, you pull back and stare at me.
"...I didn't think... you returned my affections..."
"And yet you just up and kissed him for no reason," Echo said sadly. "Poor Karel, he's going to be traumatized by this!"
"... That's how I felt..."
I longed to let three little words loose, three little words that hovered around my mind and heart during my waking hours. I breathe deeply and look you in the eye.
"...Karel... I... I... Love... you..."
I feel heat rising to my face and my face reddens to a dark crimson. I try to bush away the blush, but Karel gives a small half-smile and that makes my face grow darker. You slowly open your mouth to speak, and hear a yell from towards camp.
"KANA! KAREL! GET OVER HERE!"
You start walking towards camp, and your hand strokes mine gently. I look to you.
"... Come to my tent tonight."
... I know immediately what's on your mind and nod mutely, following you. My mind was flying and one question stands out:
Will I come?
"And now that that sappy bit of the worst dialogue and the fastest, most random, and least likely pairing ever is over with, let's go clean up this mess!" Dots said as she stepped forward, leading Aureola by the reins. Echo followed as they stepped between Karel and the camp.
Dots studied the two men that had stopped in front of her and were staring at her in confusion. "Hmm . . . well, my diagnosis is that just killing the Stu will snap Karel out of this."
"Well, let's try what the doctor ordered!" Echo said a little cheerfully. She turned to the confused Stu and cleared her throat. "Okay, Kana, you're hereby charged with being involved in a bad slash, with seducing Karel and making him out of character, with having two oddly colored eyes that look horrible together, with having an angsty past, and with almost being Karel's equal in swordsmanship. Therefore, you're a Stu and are hence sentenced to death. Any last words?"
"What?" the Stu said coldly. He drew his sword. "You will die before I let you!"
Karel drew his sword, too, though he didn't say anything. He just moved closer to the Stu protectively.
Echo sighed and put a hand to her head. "And they hafta go the hard way. Oi, okay." She turned to Dots. "I don't think just charging and stabbing is the best method if we want to stay in one piece. Get ready for an attack. I'll distract them for a moment."
Dots glanced at her. "Are you sure? How do you plan on doing that?"
Echo looked slightly resigned. "A trick my partner has done and taught me." She glanced at the two swordsmen, both clutching their swords, but looking slightly unsure. "Better get going, I don't know how long this'll hold them off."
Dots nodded and headed towards Aureola, swinging into the saddle easily.
Echo turned to the two swordsmen and cracked her knuckles. "Okay, now to take care of you two!"
Karel just looked on emotionlessly, but the Stu tightened his grip on his sword and prepared to attack.
Echo merely cleared her throat and held out her arms. "I can't believe I've sunk to Kat's level," she grumbled, then put on a false smile. She held out her hands palms-up. "Look closely! Nothing in this hand," she held up her left hand, "nothing in this hand," she held up her right hand, "but presto!" She flicked her wrist and a playing card appeared in her hand.
The Stu raised an eyebrow and lowered his sword slightly, but Karel continued to watch with the same emotionless face.
Echo flipped the card from side to side, tossing it from hand to hand carelessly. "Say, there appears to be only one card in my hand, doesn't there? Only one card? But look closely, look closely, voila!" She fanned out the card to show four more, making a total of five cards. "See?"
The Stu looked slightly confused, wondering what this had to do with anything.
"RAGABARAGHOHAHA!" Suddenly Dots dove down behind the Stu on Aureola and skewered the Stu on the lance.
Karel gave an enraged howl of grief and was about to charge them when the Stu died and the canon snapped back into place. He froze, lowered his sword, then glared at the two agents as he tried to sort out what just happened, his face once again an emotionless mask.
Dots brought a smug Aureola to a landing next to Echo. "So, what didja think?" she asked proudly.
Echo chucked the playing cards at her. "I can't believe I was reduced to simple card tricks!"
Dots ducked. "Hey, it was your idea!"
"Excuse me . . ." Karel's cold voice cut in, and they turned to see him watching them coldly. He nodded towards the Stu's body. "What is . . . that?" He turned to look at them. "And are you responsible for it?" The look on his face said that he remembered how he had acted, and heaven help them if they had anything to do with it.
Dots shook her head. "No, thankfully, our job is to get rid of things like that." She pulled out a small pen-looking thing and two pairs of sunglasses. She handed one to Echo. "Here, put these on."
Echo shrugged, but did so.
Dots turned back to Karel. "Here, look at this."
Before he could object, she pushed the button and there was a flash. Karel blinked a few times, then relaxed, a blank look on his face. Echo stared at the famed Sword Demon's current look, so different from the normal hard, expressionless glare he gave everybody.
"It happens to everybody." Dots noticed Echo's look. "He won't remember everything and'll be back to normal in a bit, as soon as we send him on his way." She turned back to him. "You just finished a battle, and are now heading back to camp. Go." She gave him a little shove, and he wandered towards the camp, slowly waking up.
"Hm, didn't get to do an exorcism this time," Dots commented. "Perhaps next time."
"Perhaps." Echo nodded. She turned back to Skittles mournfully. "I suppose I can't take him home with me?"
Dots shook her head. "Nope, sorry, although every time you use this disguise, you'll get the same wyvern." She patted Aureola on the nose.
"Cool!" Echo said happily. She gave the wyvern a quick hug, then stepped back. "Now I suppose we should go. I don't want to see how much damage my partner's managed to do in the time I've been gone."
Dots nodded and flicked on the remote activator. "Let's go, then!" she said cheerfully.
A portal buzzed to life, and the two agents stepped through.
A/N - Short, I know, but most bad slash is. Agent Dots is officially the Bad Slash agent here, and will help me with most of them, which, thankfully, won't happen too often. I'm not really sure how to go about a bad slash and, reading though the original PPC series, I noticed that they inserted the story in there, so that's what I did. Next we get to see what Kat gets up to while she stays at home. You didn't think she'd just stay home and twiddle her furry thumbs, did you?