(completed 01/26/2009; Tales of the Abyss)
Disclaimer time. The badfic in question is "ToA: The Fonic crystals and the sword", written by Blade Rakara, who is more than welcome to keep it. Jay and Acacia conceived the original concept of the PPC, and, as always, I'm merely doing my best to help out. Tales of the Abyss is property of Namco. Kat and Samuel, however, are mine.
Thanks to Kali, who has a knack for catching my typos and dealing with my idiocy, and to Platinumyo, apparently the only other person on the Board familiar with Tales of the Abyss. Both of them were kind enough to look this over for me.
Kat looked up from the walkthrough she was reading to glare at the console. “No,” she told it firmly.
“Bad console. No biscuit,” the blonde Agent said absently, doing her level best to ignore it.
“Would you please shut up.”
“I asked nicely, darnit.”
“Ugh, fine.” Kat stood, skirted around the ypur in the middle of the floor, and stalked over to the console with some annoyance. “All right... let’s see.” She poked one of the buttons hopefully.
A portal snapped open.
“That wasn’t the one I was aiming for...” Kat stared at the console, willing the controls to suddenly develop labels. She was to be sadly disappointed.
Well, when in doubt... “Samuel! Help?” she called, not turning away from the console.
“No need to shout,” a faintly amused voice said from above and slightly behind her. Kat yipped in surprise, instinctively moving back and nearly falling into her partner.
Samuel sighed, and caught the girl before she could injure either of them. “Here. Look.” He bent over the console, and, calming quickly, Kat insinuated herself into the little remaining space to watch.
With an ease that spoke of some practice, Samuel brought the ‘fic up on the screen. The two blanched simultaneously. “Tell me this wasn’t written seriously?” Kat managed after a moment.
“I dislike lying,” Samuel said after a moment, already reaching for another button. “Disguises?”
Kat shrugged, looking faintly pale. “Dunno. Oracle Knights are pretty ubiquitous in Abyss, but I dunno about that early on, and that armor’d be a nightmare to move stealthily in. I mean, you can hear them coming like a mile away.”
Samuel frowned. “Then what? There’s precious little else...”
“Waitwaitwait.” Kat scrabbled at the controls, eventually managing to bring up a suitable guise. “Look. Malkuth soldiers. Quieter than Oracle Knights, and, as far as they know at that point in time, plenty of reason to be going after them.”
The girl grinned, ducking away and going to collect weapons. Her pointe shoe was looped through her belt again, though she was beginning to despair of ever getting the opportunity to actually use it – it would have been so cool to kill a ‘Sue with a shoe, too! But she’d get her opportunity some day. She snagged the jo she’d been practicing with lately from where it had been leaning against the wall and looked at Samuel. “Got everything?”
Samuel patted the bag slung over his shoulder before dropping his hand to the hilt of the longsword at his waist. Kat nodded approvingly, gaining herself a raised eyebrow from the senior Agent.
She reddened slightly. He just shrugged, and gestured toward the open portal. “After you.”
“Words that weren’t strictly necessary. We’ll train you out of silence yet,” Kat said cheerfully, and plunged through the portal without further ado.
Immediately upon entering, Kat felt a most peculiar sensation. She couldn’t quite identify it, but she did not particularly want to continue experiencing it. It was an all-over sort of thing, a bizarre cross between slimy, smooth, and stretched-out, none of which generally heralded good things.
Somewhere out of sight, she heard Samuel mutter, “Uh-oh.”
That wasn’t good... what was he worried about?
Kat attempted to turn to ask him, but was met with a surprising amount of resistance. Instead of turning, her body was sitting down to watch a mansion on fire.
From the scant glimpses she’d caught of the ‘fic, Kat had the sinking feeling she knew what had happened.
‘Oh, sweet Mew. I think we managed to step into a first-person fic. ’
She thought about this for a moment. ‘Dammit. ’
It had been a ‘Stu, not a ‘Sue, she remembered, which was somewhat of a cause for alarm. She might curse her femininity occasionally, but most of the time she found it highly preferable to the opposite choice. Why was she playing the part and not Samuel?
Kat had a sudden and vivid recollection of Samuel. ‘After you,’ he had said.
‘Don’t panic, don’t panic.’
She sat for what seemed like forever but probably wasn’t all that long. Horrible situations always seemed interminable. And she did seem to have retained her gender so far...
Suddenly Kat was moving. Or rather, her body was, and she was along for the ride. The fire in the poorly-defined mansion had gone out, and she was looking to see what might be left.
‘Oh, come on, the fire would take longer than that to go out,’ she thought in disgust, and hoped Samuel had gotten that charge. He probably had.
So Kat went, and she found a few things.
These few things were, in order, a small, unopenable metal box, a book, and a sword that she vaguely recognized as having belonged to her father.
‘No, Dad never wielded a sword... he’s a programmer, for Arceus’ sake. What am I thinking? ’ The Agent mentally shook herself, as her body picked up the sword and clumsily hit the metal box with it.
Surprisingly, the box opened, revealing two ill-defined jewels and a folded piece of paper that she instinctively knew was instructions. Kat watched, resigned, as her body opened the instructions and read them.
"If you want to be more powerful in magic then insert one of the jewels into your arm".
Thus read the first line. Kat’s first thought was ‘Ooh, materia.’
On cue, the jewels shimmered and solidified into perfectly spherical green gems about the size of golf balls, completely ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t exist.
Kat’s next thought, as her body went for the sword, was ‘Hell no, we are not cutting me open!’
The flow of the story didn’t listen.
She was so kicking Samuel in the shins for not noticing this.
And so she observed, wincing, as she sliced open her left arm – deeply, at that, and if she bled out someone was going to die for it – inserted the jewel, and wrapped a bit of clothing around it. It hadn’t come from her disguise, that was all in one piece and really didn’t have much spare cloth, but it might have come from her uniform. At this point, Kat didn’t really care.
She was speaking then, without her consent: “kine nanki fonei”
Her arm healed instantly. She was not amused, as there was now something closely resembling materia in her arm, and it really hadn’t gotten there the traditional way. Ow.
The other half of the instructions triggered the insertion of the other jewel into the sword. The sword glowed, and Kat was suddenly aware that she was hearing her own father’s voice, which was quite bizarre.
"My son, since you are hearing this you know we arent living anymore".
‘Lack of apostrophes, punctuation, I’m not your gorram son,’ Kat noted absently, even as her body replied to the voice ‘immediantly.’ However, the story was fairly certain she was supposed to be his gorram son, as she was the one answering. Luckily, it didn’t seem to have felt the need to readjust her internal or external organs. Yet.
The conversation between her and the disembodied voice of her father was over quickly enough, and the sword ‘hit the ground and lied there motionlessly.'
Kat went over, picked up the sword, and asked permission to use it, spilling improper contractions as she did. She was not amused.
Finally, her attention was forcibly turned to the one item remaining, the book. Her arm split open again, spilling blood on the book and revealing text. Kat was a little busy focusing on the pain to actually read the text, but it would probably have sent her into a frothing rage anyway, as the rest of the story was well on the way to doing.
Finally, finally, Kat felt her body turning, and the wound in her arm sealing up again. (Excellent, because she really did want to live to see the next mission). She left the mansion, heading out and away, wherever the story would see fit to take her. She really hoped it didn’t decide to kill her.
As she was thinking that, suddenly she was watching someone that looked suspiciously like herself walk away, and she was standing still. Tentatively, Kat wiggled her fingers, and was overjoyed to note that she could move at will.
Samuel emerged from the mansion’s ruins after a moment, handing her jo over. Kat thought about this for a moment, then kicked him in the shins. “What the hell, Samuel?”
“I honestly didn’t notice,” he said sheepishly. “I’ve never dealt with anything out of third person before.”
Kat sighed, and cursed once more her inability to keep a grudge. “Well, don’t worry about it. I’m alive, aren’t I? And I don’t seem any worse for wear...”
“You could have died.” Samuel looked thoughtful, and perhaps a touch guilty. “I owe you.”
“If you say so.” Kat spun the jo in her hands a few times before stopping it, her attention caught by something moving nearby. “Hey. What’s that?”
‘That’ was, upon closer examination, a miniature liger. Admittedly, miniature simply meant about the size of a small dog, since it seemed to have been modeled after the liger queen, but it was definitely a mini.
Samuel checked the Words. “Coral castle,” he said after a moment.
Kat knelt, twitching her fingers in the liger’s general direction. “Aww, cute. Abyss minis are ligers, I guess... makes sense, cheagles would be ridiculously tiny.”
Coral castle watched Kat thoughtfully for a moment, before padding over and gravely investigating her fingers. Kat was careful not to make any sudden movements; those claws looked sharp. “No OFU that I’m aware of, so we’ll have to bring it home with us.” She didn’t sound particularly annoyed. After a few more seconds of watching the mini-liger, she stood slowly, trying not to startle it.
“We should go,” Samuel said after a moment. “We need to catch up to him. Choral Castle’s just... there.” He indicated the dark structure that had put in an appearance some meters away. “We should find coral castle there as well, I believe.”
“Capitalization makes a difference?” Kat asked the mini-liger. It took a half-hearted swipe at her leg, which was neither amusing nor helpful. She sighed, and followed Samuel.
They caught up with ‘Blade’ in time to see him walk through another mini-liger. It didn’t seem too happy at having been made temporarily immaterial, but after a cursory attempt to eat Samuel’s ankles it fell into step with him, occasionally taking a sniff at Coral castle. The Agents followed the ‘Stu inside Choral Castle, skulking in the shadows and dodging territorial bats.
“All right,” said Kat after a moment, watching Blade think to himself, “I need a notebook.”
“Here.” Samuel proffered a pad of paper and a pencil. The top sheet was already half-filled with cramped, slanted handwriting which was at least somewhat legible.
Kat took it, already scribbling and muttering under her breath. “Lack of description causing an uncomfortable resemblance to me, improper capitalization, gormless profundity, yet more improper capitalization, ow, would you please not eat that I’m sort of using it, and—eep!”
A trio of annoyed exclamation points had just shot by her ear, embedding themselves in a golem. Kat glared metaphorical daggers at the presumed ‘Stu, the caps-lock using culprit.
“Also naming random monsters, having a mansion near Choral Castle which was quite clearly alone on a cliff...” the girl hissed, nearly breaking her pencil.
Samuel patted her shoulder in a vaguely comforting manner, somewhat ruined by the fact that he was also glaring at the ‘Stu. “One does not simply ‘take down’ a Colonel in the Malkuth army, even if he is under the influence of a fon slot seal.”
Kat nodded agreement, restraining homicidal impulses with visible effort as one of her favorites was knocked over by an untrained boy nearly twenty years his junior. “And the pick-up lines... Lorelei! ‘And how are we today my beautiful princess?’” the girl mimicked, sneering. “And ‘quite oddly like...’ Tch.”
Samuel produced a CAD, waving it at the party members and frowning.
“Jade’s not ‘old-looking', if the official data didn’t place him in his thirties I don’t think anyone would have,” Kat muttered, noting it. “And who says ‘oh snap’ seriously, anyway? Also, the logic hurts my brain; why the hell would this kid know the Necromancer?”
“Stop thinking, Katrina,” Samuel said, sounding faintly amused. “As well as ask why they’re patiently standing there while a boy who just attacked them walks around to talk to them.”
“In a near-perfect circle to boot,” the blonde grumbled. “Right, logic, I know. Sorry.”
Kat’s quiet griping was eventually interrupted by a startling leap of logic from the ‘Stu. Her jaw dropped. “Oh, he did not just seriously suggest that they should have asked a monster to hand over a jewel.”
“And wasn’t it fonons, not a jewel?”
The partners followed the ‘Stu and the canons farther into Choral Castle, Kat busily making notes about cruelties to the English language and Samuel being quiet as usual. Nevertheless, Kat was careful to stay between Samuel and the ‘Stu.
“By the way, what’d the CAD say?” Kat asked as they followed the group up some stairs.
“Surprisingly low OOC ratings,” Samuel answered. “Colonel Curtiss’ was the worst, but...”
Kat pursed her lips. “As much as I hate to say it, this guy’s almost tolerable. Sure he’s speshul and mangles English – which are definitely killing offenses as far as I’m concerned – but they don’t all like him immediately, they’re somewhat in-character...”
“He talks to monsters in a made-up language, he has speshul magic stones—“
Samuel gave her a mildly annoyed look. “Katrina. Do concentrate. His father was an undefeated swordsman, and he nearly killed you.”
“It’d have been fine if we’d had a dummy,” Kat muttered. “’s only our fault for not paying attention.”
“If the ‘fic hadn’t been so description- and logic-hungry, you probably would have died,” Samuel informed her. “The Words never mentioned the arm wound closing again. Which reminds me, we’re going to Medical as soon as this is dead. Also, the CAD votes against him.”
“You’re getting wordy,” Kat noted, grinning. “And... the ghost with the blue fonons was before this point. Had to be.” She shook her head at Blade. “Sorry, boyo. Let’s go, Samuel.”
Apparently his earlier burst of loquacity had exhausted him; Samuel followed the shorter Agent with not a word as she approached the canons and the ‘Stu. “Could I have your attention please?” Kat requested, her voice carrying over the disagreement between Jade and Blade.
Jade spared her a glance, looking distinctly annoyed. Kat remembered their disguises a bit late. “What are Malkuth soldiers doing here?” the canon character wanted to know.
Kat very skillfully didn’t melt with glee. “Besides yourself, sir? We’re here for Blade... ah... Blade No-Name.” She shrugged. “Criminal, dontcha know? Death sentence. Please don’t interfere, or my much taller and more easily annoyed partner will have to step in.”
“Hm.” Jade took a step back, absently pushing his glasses up as he scrutinized them. “And where did you get those uniforms, then? You’re not really from Malkuth, unless I’m very much mistaken. The Oracle Knights, perhaps?” He was looking unsettlingly ready to produce his spear.
“Hardly,” Kat muttered, looking over the charges. “Regardless, we’re not here for you. Blade, step forward.”
“What do you want?” the ‘Stu asked impatiently, doing as was requested with a miraculous lack of bad grammar. Then again, it was exceedingly hard to screw that phrase up.
Samuel crossed quickly to the ‘Stu, holding his sword to the character’s throat.
Tear protested. “What’s he done?”
“The charge list won’t make much sense, I expect, but you’ll get to hear it.” Kat waved the list, looking around the group for signs of imminent violence, and luckily found none. “All right. Here we go.
“Blade, you are charged with far too many counts of cruelty to the English language, including punctuation abuse, caps lock abuse, tense confusion, and complete and total lack of spellcheck.” Kat adjusted the jo in the crook of her elbow, and kept going. “Mischaracterization – not as severe as it could have been, but definitely there – most specifically of Colonel Jade Curtiss and Ionian Sergeant Anise Tatlin. Creation of two... um... where’d they go?”
“Behind you,” Samuel answered.
Kat moved her heel backward and encountered something warm and fuzzy. “Right. Creation of two mini-ligers, to whit, Coral castle and coral castle, major issues with time – I mean come on, five hundred years? What the hell? – seriously flawed logic, and creation of various items to make yourself more speshul.” Kat would have stopped there, but she realized something. “And dammit, you’re the reason I’ve been feeling strange! We’re centered!”
She shook herself, still wary of the canons. “Right. Sorry. Anyway, Blade, the last and most serious charge is that of being a Gary Stu. I believe the Character Analysis Device finds you guilty on all counts. The penalty is death, to be carried out by my partner Samuel.” Kat stuck the list in her pocket and gripped her jo. “Any last words?”
“Who the hell—“
Samuel didn’t give him a chance to finish. Blade’s head flew off, landing on the stairs and beginning to roll down them. Simultaneously, the normal formatting reasserted itself, and Kat breathed a sigh of relief.
Tear was not amused. “Those are the most ridiculous charges I’ve ever heard!” the Locrian Sergeant protested, a bit too late.
Samuel was prepared. He produced a neuralyzer, motioning for Kat to be wary. “If you could just look here, please? It’ll explain everything.”
They looked. Kat closed her eyes tight and looked down.
There was a flash, and Samuel was putting the neuralyzer away. Kat opened her eyes, and, as Samuel instructed the canons to move on, she went for the ‘Stu’s corpse, separating the sword from it before she pushed it over the edge of the stairs. A few nearby bats – the ravenous video game kind – pounced upon it instantly.
“That takes care of that.” Kat grinned, turning to Samuel. “Portal?” The canons were by now safely on their way to the roof.
“Indeed.” Samuel sheathed his sword, picking up the ‘Stu’s with some interest. “Did you want this?”
“I want to see if I can get the gem out of it. I think I accidentally turned the ‘jewels’ into materia, which really shouldn’t have happened – so uncanonical – but they wanted description.”
“Which reminds me.” Samuel fished for the RA with his free hand, eventually opening a portal to a place that was decidedly not their RC. “Medical.”
“I’m fine!” Kat protested.
“Then you’ll have no objection to being looked over.” Without further ado, Samuel grabbed her wrist and pulled his partner through the portal. The mini-ligers followed close on their heels.
The portal snapped shut behind them, leaving Choral Castle to the monsters.