Kazra sat bolt upright where she was rearranging the paperwork and skidded across the room on her chair to the console.
"Huh?" Her partner managed to summon up enough energy to crack open an eye.
"Alarm. Mary Sue. Assassinate," Kazra summarised as she rose in a whirlwind of movement and began to pack.
"Chill, Kaz," her partner yawned.
"Just because you’re so laid back that you’re almost horizontal Rich." Kazra snapped back, shoving a random device with more force than was strictly necessary into the bag.
"Which universe?" Rich asked, amazingly stirring into motion and glaring at the energetic half of the partnership.
"Lord of the Rings."
"Not another one. Acacia and Jay down the hall were saying that they've been run off their feet."
"Yeah Rich, that's why we joined." And she muttered something under her breath that sounded like "Though why I had to get you…"
"Who've they tampered with?" Rich finally got to his feet and began to pack.
"Oh, here's a new niche. Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. And guns."
Kazra stepped back across to the console and began punching in commands.
"Fine." Kazra punched in the last command and grinned as the portal materialised. She stepped through, feeling the chosen Uruk-hai slot into place around her. She turned to face the portal, tapping one foot as she waited for Rich.
And waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, with a growl (which was very effective in her orc form.) she stepped back through, grabbed Rich by the back of his shirt and hauled him bodily through.
"What did you do that for?" he complained.
"You were taking too long."
But now that they were actually out on a mission, most of Rich's lethargy was fading, leaving him with some energy (about the same amount as a reanimated corpse, but at least it was some).
"So what's happening?" he asked, checking the bow and quiver that he had been equipped with.
Kazra checked the words. "Navalle, a girl from Earth, transported here, with guns. Joins Frodo as he heads off to Bree. The rest is just scary."
Rich looked at his partner, who was still glassy eyed, following the words.
"Take a look at Tom Bombadil."
Rich burst out laughing and Kazra grinned. Once normality had triumphed over hilarity, Rich looked around.
"So, where are we?"
"The typical random woods, dark and full of nameless nasties. If I programmed the computer right…"
"Which you normally do."
"…up ahead should be a hill where they dismay at the sight of, shock horror, more trees. We can follow them from there."
"Sounds like a good idea to me," Rich commented, sitting down at the foot of a tree. "Wake me when they arrive."
"Bloody hell," Kazra groaned, but settled herself down, pulling out her 'while away the hours' cross-stitch and starting to work on a rather garishly coloured puddle of blood.
"Oh woe is me," Kazra muttered sarcastically as Sam slumped to the ground in dismay. "Not more flaming trees. In a forest of all places." Before she clapped her hand over Rich's mouth. He had decided to read ahead and was laughing merrily.
"Wheesht," she told him. "Orcs don't laugh, at least not while they're lurking, if they want to keep their heads on their shoulders." He finally quit and when the group left, Kazra and the now calm Rich followed them.
"So have you decided how we're going to do the Duty?" Rich asked as they walked.
"Vaguely. But the guns are a problem."
"Why are these forests always so gloomy? I mean, I've been in quite a few nice ones."
"Dark and gloomy is more dramatic. They can heroically save canon characters from terrible danger in them."
They managed to walk another few metres before Kazra's mouth over-ruled her brain and she started to witter about random things. Rich gave the occasional grunt, but concentrated on walking, and ignoring her.
"Who’s going to take first watch?" he managed to fit into the flow of conversation as the five ahead of them stopped.
"I will if you like," Kazra offered, and Rich barely managed to stop his jaw dropping. He looked suspiciously at her. Kazra never offered to take the first watch.
"Are you feeling alright?" he asked.
"Never better," she told him. Rich nodded, not fully believing her.
The night passed without incident apart from one Uruk-hai braining another Uruk-hai with a tree branch when he refused to stop snoring, and the brained Uruk-hai hitting the other Uruk-hai when he caught her spying on a certain soon to be Elvish member of the Fellowship, using some device she had 'borrowed'. The quiet pair were disturbed by a loud voice singing.
"I ma bringing flowers for da Maiden of the River!
I ser am Tom Bombadil!"
Rich fell off the tree branch he had been watching from, and Kazra winced at the thud.
A rather battered orc crawled out of a bramble bush, muttering darkly (and concussedly) to itself.
Kazra was concentrating on the plot that was unfolding itself. Rich crawled over to his partner. "Meh?" was his intelligent comment.
"How good are your bloodcurdling roars?" she asked.
"Good enough. Come on, let's not hang around here anymore. Tom ain't one of my favourite characters, but this is heinous."
"If this gets any more cloying I think I'll vomit?"
"Wrong book, Rich."
"But a good try."
The tree wasn't very comfortable, Kazra decided. A branch was digging into her back and a leaf was determined to make the acquaintance of her teeth.
"Are you sure this is going to work, Kaz?"
"Hopefully. If I remember the Mary Sue lecture correctly, they have an unbearable urge to be heroic. It's something in the genes."
"Jeans?" Rich still wasn't quite all with it.
"Well, shall we?"
"Hang on." Kazra checked the words "Yep. Tom Bombadil has gone, and they haven't met the Barrow Wights. On the count of three. One, two, three."
Two screams rang out, one high, female and filled with fear, the other bubbling with orcish rage.
"Funfunfun," Kazra muttered, orc features grinning, but both she and Rich fell silent as the Mary Sue ran into the clearing and looked about for the source of the scream. Rich dropped out of the tree behind Navalle and pinned her arms behind her back.
Navalle screamed and tried to wriggle and fight her way free, but Rich was having none of it.
"Hurry it up, Kaz," he hissed as Navalle's foot connected with his shin. Kazra slid down out of her own tree, bow drawn.
"Navalle, it is my duty to inform you that you have been charged with disrupting the canon by mixing bookverse and movieverse canon, interfering with the characters of multiple characters, most notably Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, bringing 21st-century knowledge to Middle-earth, giving major plot points a miss, also being a Mary Sue."
"What?" Navalle cried, still struggling, "I don’t understand."
"How do you expect her to understand you when you talk in such flowery language?" Rich asked Kazra, shifting his grip on the Sue slightly.
"Do you have any last words?" Kazra asked Navalle. "No? Good. Rich, duck." And as she uttered the last two words, she fired. Thwack.
"She dead?" Kazra asked Rich, who leaned over the corpse.
"Slowly expiring," he answered. "You missed the heart and hit a lung. Oh, looks like she's trying to speak."
"Better gag her, else we'll have a farewell faithful comrades speech," Kazra advised, and the words were abruptly muffled by what appeared to be a large black sock.
"Ewww, Rich, did you have to use one of your own? I know she's a Sue and all, but really, that's just plain nasty."
"Moaner," Rich muttered before he spoke in a louder voice. "So where are we depositing the body? I don't think another specimen is needed back at HQ."
Kazra grinned. "Now that the plot is restored to normal, I think we'll let one of the people she missed out deal with that."
The pair of assassins watched as Old Man Willow engulfed Navalle's body.
"Good idea, Kaz."
"Thank you, Rich. I have my moments."
"Back to base?"
"Yep, think so."