"You're my WHAT?"
"New partner?" Kwennyfer said nervously. She glanced at her paper. "If this is Room 1113 and you're Jane?"
The door, which had been open only a crack, eased further open to reveal a short girl with a dark ponytail. She had sunglasses on and was wearing a black trench coat over her uniform. "Yes, but—good GRIEF! What are you?"
"Um . . . I think the technical term is a semi-fic blip," Kwennyfer said, fidgeting under Jane's scrutiny. Okay, so the silver hair and glowing golden eyes and blue tengwar tattoos were a little garish, but did she have to stare like that? "I was a character somebody thought up but never actually wrote, so I ended up getting recruited instead." At least she'd been able to change into a standard PPC uniform.
Jane's eyes narrowed. "What kind of character?"
"Oh, you know, just a . . . um . . . kindofamarysuebutI'mbetternow," Kwennyfer finished in a hasty mumble.
"Oh really? Well, you go back and tell them—"
Jane snarled and ran back inside the room. Deciding that this was the closest thing to an invitation she was about to get, Kwennyfer grabbed her duffel bag and followed her into the response center. Jane was at the console, punching buttons. She looked up and glared at Kwennyfer, but only said, "Okay, I've got an alert, so you can come along, but we're taking you back to the Daisy right after, okay?"
"Okay," Kwennyfer said, unzipping her duffel bag. She pulled out her sword, formerly Kįzhyū-shltha'iśė ("Blade Of The Jewel Maiden Of The West Who Beats The Darkness Back" in Sue-elvish), now happily re-named Fred.
Jane, meanwhile, was securing knives in her boots, sleeves, belt, and the inside of her trench coat. "You can use that sword without superpowers, right?" she asked.
"Great." Jane grabbed her backpack. A glowing rectangle appeared in the air: the portal into the fanfic. "Okay, Kansas go bye-bye . . ."
Rivendell was, of course, beautiful. Kwennyfer came through the portal to find herself standing on a terrace overlooking the valley. She was surrounded with golden-leaved trees, the song of birds, a soft, fragrant breeze—
And a Nazgūl.
"Er . . . ?" she began.
"Oh, they didn't tell you about disguises?" the Nazgūl asked far-too-innocently in Jane's voice. "Canons don't notice us unless we grab their attention, which generally happens when we kill a Sue, so to keep from disrupting the canon too much we have to disguise ourselves as something that might plausibly kill someone. And we have to use canon weapons, which is not fair . . ." Her voice sank away into a disgruntled murmur as she headed down the terrace.
Kwennyfer trailed after her.
". . . really, some of them need to be machine-gunned, and it's not like canon isn't already—Oh, goody. Look."
Jane had paused at a window. Kwennyfer peered inside and saw Frodo standing in a Generic Room with Merry, Pippin, and Sam.
"Frodo looks paler than usual." Kwennyfer frowned, peering at the Words that made up the fanfic. "Oh. Because Elrond brought him back from the dead. That's why."
"Vampire Frodo?" Jane snickered. "Cute." A snickering Ringwraith is not a pretty sight.
Just then the Sue arrived, cloaked and hooded, prancing into the room behind Legolas.
Merry asked, "What do you want with, Frodo and who are you?!" "Merry, I ask nothing of Frodo but to help him on his quest with his ring, I will try to steal for I have a similar ring myself and need to dispose of it." the Sue said.
Kwennyfer whimpered at the mangled punctuation.
"A similar ring," Jane said woodenly. "Right. What part of ONE RING does she not understand?"
The Sue paused dramatically and then pulled off her cloak, revealing . . . a very, very standard Mary Sue. Red-and-blond hair, swashbuckling shirt and pants, beautiful sword.
"Okay, so considering that the creators of Mary Sues spend half their time on their appearances, you'd think that they could at least think up something original," Kwennyfer said.
"What, like blue tengwar tattooes?" Jane asked.
Kwennyfer sighed. "Well, at least my hair is only one color."
"True. It looks like this girl spilled two bottles of hair dye on her head."
"Are you a hobit or elf?" Pippin asked.
"Both actually half and half, by the way my name is Autumn Loamsdown of Deep Hollow." Autumn said happily.
"A hobbit and an elf?" Jane said. "Okay, I did NOT need that mental image." She shook her head. "Sick. Wrong. Sick. Wrong."
Kwennyfer took another look at the Words. "Nothing more happens until tonight. Is it okay if I take a look around?"
Jane waved a hand. "Sure, sure. Tourism is half the fun." She paused. "You're not going to tackle anyone, are you?"
"No!" Kwennyfer said indignantly. "I told you, I am not a Mary Sue. Much. Anymore."
"Uh-huh. Just remember that if I find you smooching Legolas, you're coming home in pieces."
Kwennyfer rolled her eyes. "Whyever would I want to?" She stalked away indignantly. She was not a Mary Sue anymore and she did not tackle.
Of course, if she just happened to run into Aragorn . . .
"I can't BELIEVE this! You're a member of the PPC—you know, as in Plot Continuum, Protector of?"
"Well, I wasn't disrupting canon!" Kwennyfer protested.
"You were using Mary Sue powers to make out with Aragorn!"
"We were holding hands," Kwennyfer said with great dignity. "And he thought I was Arwen, so it wasn't out of character."
Great, Jane thought. A space-lawyer Mary Sue.
"Besides, don't tell me you never tried something like that," Kwennyfer said. She looked curiously at Jane. "Who is your favorite, anyway? Aren't all assassins supposed to have one?"
"Oh. Er. Here we are," Jane said brightly. They had arrived back at the window where they had spied on Autumn earlier that day. Now it was night, and within the room Sam, Merry, and Pippin were all stretched out on the floor, snoring. As they looked in the window, Frodo walked out a door onto a balcony.
"Come on," Jane whispered. She climbed through the window. Kwennyfer came after her with a thump.
Jane glared at her. "Be quiet," she hissed. "Non-canons can see and hear us." She tiptoed over to the doorway and pulled out her bow and arrows.
"Go tell the others Brownlock" Autumn said to the owl and with that the owl flew away into the night. She did not notice the arrow which pierced Brownlock through the middle.
As the owl fell to earth with a strangled squawk, Jane put away her bow and pulled out the charge sheet. 4. Gratuitous cute animal companion, she wrote, then noticed that the entry above, in Kwennyfer's handwriting, was 16. (c): Unpunctuated dialogue!!! It was preceded by 15. (a) and (b): Unpuctuated dialogue! and Two speakers in the same paragraph!
Meanwhile, out on the balcony, Autumn had begun to sniffle.
"What's wrong?" Frodo said in a concerned tone.
"I think that's the first properly punctuated line of dialogue in the entire story," Kwennyfer murmured in wondering tones.
"And probably the last."
"My parents have been killed.... by ring wraths...." Autumn moaned. "My whole family....even my brother and sister who would want to come with me on my quest...."
17. Self-pitying freak, Jane wrote.
"Even my servants...and my love...their dead Frodo dead!"
Kwennyfer made a soft whimpering sound. "She used 'their' instead of 'they're,'" she said. "She must die."
18. Kwen is a nerdy grammar fanatic.
Frodo hugged Autumn. "It's ...ok.... I'll.... help you," he sniffed. "I'll.... protect.... you...I won't let them get to you Autumn!"
There was a sudden shrilling. Jane jumped and then grabbed her backpack and pulled out her Character Analysis Device. [58.44% CHARACTER RUPTURE!] She quickly switched it to mute.
Out on the balcony, Autumn and Frodo glanced around. For a moment, Frodo came out of the lovesick trance, a look of completely in-character puzzlement flashing across his face. Then Autumn smiled and the glazed look entered his eyes once more. They hugged and then, in the words of the story, "stood there like this for a while only to fall asleep together on the floor."
With a loud thump.
Jane turned away with a snort. "Yes, concussions are so romantic."
"I think Frodo is already concussed," Kwennyfer said.
Suddenly the shrill voice of a teenaged girl boomed through their heads:
anyone have a hankie I 'm going to cry too!
"Ow!" Kwennyfer yelped, pressing her hands to her ears.
"In-story author's notes are evil," Jane agreed. "And author's notes sobbing over the story?"
"They're obscene," Kwennyfer muttered, "and they are definitely going on the charge list."
19. In-story author's notes moaning over the story.
The Fellowship (plus Autumn, of course) spent a week in Rivendell before setting out. Jane and Kwennyfer, not wanting to wait, portalled through to five hours after the Fellowship had set out, when they stopped on a ledge and "everyone was enjoying the well needed rest."
"Right," Jane muttered. "Because Rangers and Elves need to catch their breath after five hours. They're fleeing the Forces of Darkness across an entire continent, but of course nobody can keep walking for more than five-bloody-hours . . ."
Legolas seemed to understand the pain the was in Autumn's life even though himself had never had such pain, but had the same amount of strength and determination as Autumn. Legolas stopped and then ran to the top of the ledge, " The Ringwraiths are coming everyone prepare for a fight!" he shouted.
"And those two sentences are related to each other how?" Kwennyfer demanded. "Paragraph! Topic sentence! Concept?"
"So. Two and a half millennia of fighting, living in a jungle with giant spiders, and fighting the Forces of Darkness," Jane said. "Of course Legolas has never lost anyone."
Meanwhile, the Fellowship milled around in a confused way as the Nazgūl galloped up to the bottom of the ledge. Apparently, Gandalf, Legolas, and Aragorn had forgotten everything they'd ever known about battling the Forces of Darkness.
Suddenly, a huge flaming bird flew out of the sky and Autumn jumped on to it's back as it flew by her.
Kwennyfer emitted a shriek not unlike that of a Nazgūl. "That SHOULD NOT HAVE AN APOSTROPHE!" she wailed.
"Will you just relax already?" Jane said. "We'll get her in a minute."
After Autumn had scared the Nazgūl away with fireballs, the bird disappeared and she plummeted to the ground. Frodo leapt under her, and they landed together in a pile of leaves.
"Now!" Jane shouted, and the two assassins ran forward, pulling out their weapons. Jane got there first; she grinned maliciously as she pulled Autumn to her feet and held her at knife-point.
"Frodo! Help me!" Autumn screamed. The Fellowship, noticing the extra Ringwraiths for the first time, started forward.
"Stop!" shouted Kwennyfer, holding her sword ready. "Things are not what they seem!"
"Oh, that's helpful," Jane said.
Actually, it was somewhat. The Men of the Fellowship, who had been almost entirely ignored by the author, were already beginning to fight Autumn's influence, and they held the Hobbits back.
Jane took a deep breath. "Mary Sue, alias Autumn Loamsdown of Deep Hollow, you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent; in fact, you do not have the right to speak at all. Kwen, you want to read the charge list?"
"What? Oh, right. Um . . . you are hereby charged with creating a second One Ring, distorting the character of Frodo, ignoring everybody else, committing twenty-eight errors of punctuation—I counted—as well as sundry other crimes against the English language, having a cute animal friend, having in-story author's notes moaning over the story, Kwen is a nerdy—HEY!"
"Father, I cannot tell a lie," Jane said. "I did it with my little ball point pen."
Kwennyfer glared at her. "Also really stupid super-powers, and making the Nazgūl APPALLINGLY insignificant. Can I kill her, pretty please?"
"Sure," Jane said. She looked down at Autumn. "Last words?"
"It's not fair . . . Frodo . . ." Autumn sniffled.
Jane jumped back; before Autumn could move, Kwennyfer's blade whistled through the air and sliced her head off.
The world rippled. Suddenly the Nazgūl, who had been fleeing away into the distance, disappeared entirely. The Fellowship was a mile away, having not stopped for a rest. Only Autumn's bloody corpse remained to show that canon had ever been interrupted.
Kwennyfer gave the body a dubious look. "I suppose we have to get rid of it now?"
"Yup," Jane said. She pulled a black trash bag out of her backpack. "Here, help me get her packed."
"What are we going to do with her?" Kwennyfer asked once the bits had been stuffed into the bag.
Jane started dialing up the portal. "Well, wargs are always fun, but I did those last time . . . hey! Isn't Gollum in Moria?"
It took a bit of searching, but when they finally left Middle-earth it was to the sound of, "Mmm! It is munchable, my preciousss . . ."
Once back in the response center, Kwennyfer pulled out a piece of cloth and started wiping her sword.
"So is the grammar usually this bad?" she asked.
"Yes," Jane said, dropping her backpack. She pulled open the door. "Okay, come on."
"What?" Kwennyfer tightened her grip on Fred. "I was assigned to you, okay? You can't just . . . I mean, the next person is probably worse."
"Relax, I'm not getting rid of you," Jane said, taking Kwennyfer by the wrist.
"Don't make me change my mind."
Kwennyfer grinned and dropped her baggage. "Okay!"
Jane pulled her out into the hallway. She grinned, too, but she showed considerably more teeth. "I'm just taking you to see the Sunflower about your little problem."
"A. R. A. G.—"
"But . . . Hey, wait a minute—look, I was just holding his hand, it's not like—ACK!"