Several loud thumps resounded through the quiet response center. Aerilyn looked up from her book with a cross expression. She was just getting to the part about Beren and Luthien, which was one of her favourite parts. What were the neighbors up to? All she knew about them was that they were fellow Mary Sue Department Lord of the Rings agents, and that they had two mini-Balrogs.
"Sounds like they're having fun over there," Zera spoke up with a giggle.
Aerilyn leaned back to roll her eyes at her partner, noting the suggestive tone. "Been reading too much slash lately?"
"What? Are they both guys?"
"Both female, actually, I believe."
"Oh... well..." Zera shrugged and did her best to look innocent.
"One of these days, I'll figure out how you can have your mind in the gutter and still look so innocent."
"Merde! I hear you, you stupid thing!" Aerilyn slapped at the computer, irritated. She was sitting right next to it, so it would have been nearly impossible to ignore it. Her ears were still ringing for some time after the noise finally stopped.
"Well, that was rather tame. Here I was expecting something a lot more colorful," Zera observed as she strolled over to have a look. She never stayed too close to the computer when it was in danger of beeping. She liked having her hearing intact, thank you.
"Hm, yes," Aerilyn replied, obviously not paying attention as she looked over the fic. She almost immediately grimaced. "Ah, you'll love this, Zerry, but Faramir and Boromir have a foster-sister named Eileena."
"If I've told you once, I've told you a million times, don't call me Zerry. Oh, for the love of all that's canon, why must they do this? Not only does she knock off Lothíriel so that she can marry Éomer, but she's Aragorn's sister," Zera sighed.
Aerilyn was looking positively murderous. "I want this one."
"No! You got the last one!" Zera protested.
"She was raised by Denethor!"
"My heart weeps, but she's still mine."
"You can get the hobbit one."
"But I don't wanna kill the hobbit one! You can have her; I'll get the git who messes with Éomer."
Aerilyn gave her a shrewd look as she headed over to collect gear. Zera knew very well that Aragorn was Aerilyn's favorite of all canon characters, and that she was almost rabidly defensive of him. It came down to a contest of who was more stubborn. In this case, Aerilyn suspected that Zera was just being difficult for the heck of it. She did that a lot.
"Oh, Lynnie, you might want to watch out for—"
There was a crash.
"Erm, too late," Zera winced and went over to help dig her partner out of the pile. Oby-wan was eyeing the mess curiously from a safe distance away.
"Zera." Aerilyn's voice, muffled from underneath everything, conveyed a great deal of annoyance. It was an impressive pile, too, containing everything from CADs to a few of Oby-wan's toys, assorted packages of junk food, duffel bags, and weapons of various kinds. There were a few other things, but it was perhaps best not to ask about some of them...
After the assassin was extracted from the pile (somehow unscathed), they proceeded to sort out their respective gear. Aerilyn had to snatch the remote portal generator from Zera, as the last time she’d used it things had not gone well.
"What disguise this time?" Zera asked as she headed for the computer, giving Aerilyn a parting sniff. Why couldn't she carry something important for once?
"Elves. We're going to pick these two off before they cause any damage to the council. I don't think that I could stand another Sued version of that," Aerilyn shouldered her pack with a set expression. She hadn't mentioned the killing rights again, but she intended on getting both of the Sues.
"Like you ever hear it over that horrid music," Zera snorted as the portal appeared.
"It is not horrid, that stuff you listen to is. Besides, that's not the point." Aerilyn stepped through the portal. "You know that—"
Aerilyn paused and looked around. Wait... this wasn't Rivendell. Zera bumped into her from behind.
"What was the sudden stop for? Ooh, a library."
It looked like something straight out of a university somewhere, but the motifs were reminiscent of a place that the agents knew well. Their suspicions were confirmed when a man who was most obviously a Rider of Rohan stepped inside.
"Hide!" Aerilyn hissed, and ducked for a nearby chair. On the upper level of the library, a young woman with red hair was leaning over, looking shocked. By a stroke of luck, she didn't see the two agents that hastily moved for cover.
"Yes, I'm fine, Eothain. What is it?" The woman asked.
"There is a weather-beaten man here to see you. He looks like a Ranger. He says he brings news from your brother. Shall I admit him?"
"We're in the bloody future," Aerilyn told Zera after a quick study of the words. "Look, she's queen of Rohan now. And... oh, gag, she's got three kids, and another on the way." She glared at the Sue, but her gaze went back to Aragorn. The poor Ranger was almost in character, if you didn't think about the fact that he was supposed to be a king now, and not lurking about looking like that.
"Bit characters?" Zera shrugged. "I don't think we'll have to deal with them. We kill her in the past, they won't exist. Like in that Terminator movie. Except we're not gonna screw it up."
"It is what shall come to pass, should your mission fail," Aerilyn said in a hallowed tone. Scary, but true.
"Speaking of motherhood, I have it on good authority that I'm to be an uncle for a third time." Aragorn and the Sue continued to talk.
"Eothain told you, I assume," the Sue said.
"He couldn't see that for himself?" Zera asked no one. "I thought it was rather obvious. Oh well. Oooooh, crud, Aerilyn, kids!"
Aerilyn turned just in time to see the two children enter... or rather, come stampeding in. The girl was shrieking in such a manner that made Aerilyn want to choke her, and the boy, Elfwine apparently, was right behind her.
"Half-canon kids, you think they can see us?"
"No clue, but we'd better be careful," Zera said as she scooted over to get closer to her partner, straining to hear the quiet conversation that was going on between the Sue, her kids, and Aragorn.
"Oh, speaking of their book, I believe I found it on the bookshelves." The Sue had a red book sitting in her lap.
Aerilyn glared back over at the Sue, and the book she was speaking of. Her eyes glittered dangerously. That was Sam's, and he would not leave it behind.
"Adding it to the charge list," Zera whispered. She already had a page of notes, which made Aerilyn a bit wary. Not much use in worrying about it presently, though, as they would sort it out later.
"Read it to us, Uncle!" 'Gilraen', the Sue's youngest child, pleaded.
"Waaait, if he's gonna read the book..." Zera said slowly.
"That would make a perfect cheesy, clichéd lead-on into..." Aerilyn was just coming to the same conclusion.
"When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton..."
In a sudden flash, the two agents found themselves in the Shire. In the middle of Bilbo's birthday party.
"Add an attempt to kill us to the charge list and use of extremely cheesy deus ex machina," Zera informed her partner as she scribbled away dutifully, not seeming to mind the hobbits that were all around them.
"Munchkin land," Aerilyn grinned. She'd always loved the Shire, and this party was indeed a fine occasion. The hobbits were cute, as usual, and there were plenty of them. Her expression darkened, however, when she spotted an odd-looking one slide into a seat next to Frodo.
"Wha... Oh," Zera shoved the notebook away, and grabbed her Character Analysis Device. She then pointed it at the hobbit that Aerilyn was staring at.
[Chrysanthemum Brown. Hobbit female. Mary Sue.] It beeped smugly.
"I thought so... She's giving Frodo those looks. Ah, the Sackville-Bagginses don't like her. What good taste they have." Aerilyn hunched down next to a table.
"Right." Zera had put away her notebook, and she nonchalantly plopped down on the bench next to one of the hobbits, reaching over to slide a mug of ale her way. The hobbit next to her stared at the empty space with a slight frown, but quickly turned his attention back to Bilbo. The famous birthday speech was just starting...
"What? You want some?" Zera took a drink of the ale and grinned.
"You are a complete ditz."
The speech proceeded without too many problems, if one could ignore the Sue whispering with Frodo for nearly the entire thing. Aerilyn idly flicked some pieces of grass in her direction, hoping to get some in her hair.
"Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve!" Bilbo announced.
When the hobbit Sue started giggling at this, the agent changed tactics, and went for stray rolls instead of grass. One bounced off the hobbit Sue's head quite magnificently.
"And you call me a ditz." Zera rolled her eyes, taking a break from watching Bilbo with rapt attention. "At least she got that line right."
"Bah," Aerilyn snorted. Bilbo then ended his speech, and disappeared, causing quite an uproar among the assembled partygoers. The Sue didn't look very surprised; instead, she dashed off towards Bag End.
"Three guesses as to where she's going," Zera sighed, and abandoned her mug of ale as she followed Aerilyn up the path, being careful to avoid the milling hobbits.
"Going to make that a bet?" Aerilyn perked up a little.
"No," Zera sniffed.
"We'll stay out here and wait for Bilbo to leave. That's when Miss Sue shows up." Aerilyn sat down on a part of the hill that was invisible from the path. "I do wonder why Bilbo would care anything for this hobbit lass. She's taken care of him for years? Why does he need taking care of? What did she think Frodo was there for? Decoration?" Aerilyn moped. She was still in a bad mood over the mess in Rohan.
"Lyn, logic will only make your head hurt. Repeat after me: She is a Mary Sue. Mary Sues don't care a whit about logic."
"I know, I know... There's Bilbo and Gandalf." Aerilyn hastily got out the portal generator. She wasn't planning on another unintentional jump. "Note that she's corrupted Gandalf, then let's go. I'd rather not lose my lunch like I nearly did the last time."
"Bilbo, I think you should let her come with you." Gandalf said, resting a hand on Bilbo's shoulder. The poor hobbit had the right idea, but Gandalf just wouldn't let him refuse.
Zera considered the ale she'd recently had. "Erm, good idea." After writing down a note, she followed Aerilyn through the portal.
"I skipped through an annoying flashback...er forward? Anyway, it was just cheesy, and annoying. Like everything else about this story," Aerilyn told her partner as they emerged in Rivendell. "This has to be one of the dullest assignments we've ever gotten. These two Sues just aren't... creative at all."
"No, they're not..."
Both agents stopped, seeing another author's note coming up. It was odd, but the image of some kind of office shimmered around them, two girls in it. Aerilyn and Zera exchanged odd looks. This was something odd... And then two figures, almost like holographs, stepped behind one of the two girls.
"That's... but... what?" Zera's jaw would have hit the floor, had it not been firmly attached.
"Those are agents," Aerilyn observed, frowning. "What? Who? Why?"
"Jay and Acacia!" Zera looked stunned, between being horrified and furious. "Those are the spiffing agents that worked just down the hall from my old response center! They were there before I ever joined the PPC... What are they doing here?"
"I don't think it's really them," Aerilyn said cautiously. She had heard of Jay and Acacia, who hadn't? "See? The Authors just wrote them in here. Eru knows why..."
They found out why just then. The two agents and the girl starting singing. The 'Happy Birthday' song was simply too much.
Zera was seeing red by that point. Aerilyn snatched her tunic and held onto her firmly. "Down girl! They can't see you anyway!"
The other agents growled something indecipherable, and struggled.
Aerilyn shrugged, and then let her go. Zera promptly landed face-first in the dirt.
"What nerve!" Zera huffed as she picked herself up, dusting off her clothes. The agents and the girls were gone. "Writing agents in there just to sing Happy Birthday for the other Author. I swear, do they have no shame at all anymore?"
Her partner watched her spark of temper with some surprise. She didn't often see Zera really angry. "It's too bad we can't add any charges for that..."
"I'll make up a few," Zera growled.
Aerilyn decided not to argue now, and instead led the way up to the room where Frodo was resting.
"There's the hobbit Sue again... She's stealing Sam's parts," Aerilyn muttered as they peered in the doorway.
Zera was once again taking notes, almost too cheerfully.
The hobbit Sue meandered over to the window, and announced the arrival of Boromir. She also noticed that there was a woman from Gondor as well. Both agents wanted very much to get to the window to look, but there was no way that they could have gotten around the Sue.
"That, Chrysanthemum Brown, is the Lady Eileena of Gondor, daughter of the Steward of Gondor. A woman of renowned beauty and skill with a blade." Gandalf said.
Aerilyn pointed her CAD at Mithrandir warily. She was afraid to look.
[Gandalf. Maia. Canon. Out of Character 68.3% BEEEEEEP!] The device seemed to be as disgusted as the agents were.
"Causing canon ruptures. Renowned beauty and skill with a blade... Is it just me, or does that scream 'Mary Sue!'?"
"It does," Aerilyn agreed. "Geh, have you looked at the words? The formatting is horrible, and whatever font that is, it's unreadable. It's making things oddly wobbly."
"A warrior?" The hobbit Sue was shocked. "But a lady as a warrior is unheard of!"
"Ah. But has Aragorn not taught you to use a blade."
"That was supposed to be a question, dimwit," Zera interjected quietly.
"Well, yes, but..." The Sue faltered.
"Teaching hobbits fencing? I'd think that Aragorn would have better things to do... besides, when would he meet her? He doesn't go waltzing about in the Shire." Aerilyn turned away from the door, and headed back down the hallway. It was time to meet this 'Eileena of Gondor', renowned woman of beauty and skill with a blade.
In short, the perfect warrior!Sue.
"The hobbit Sue probably met him in Rivendell. I'm surprised that she didn't hook up with an elf around here. Did you see that one story about Elladan and that hobbit girl?" Zera asked off-handedly.
Aerilyn stared. "No, but spare me, I haven't got enough Bleeprin on hand."
"I am honored to meet a lady of renowned beauty and skill with a blade. As I am equally honored to meet a man of a valiant nature. I shall leave the both of you to bathe and dress for dinner.' Aragorn kissed Eileena's hand, gave Boromir a nod, and departed.
"A lady of renowned beauty and skill with a blade," Zera shot a glare in the Sue's direction. "If I hear her called that one more time..."
"Bring to mind 'A Elbereth Gilthoniel'?" Aerilyn asked with a devious grin.
"Hah, kinda. Let's go see what Aragorn's up to."
They followed Aragorn, thankful for a respite from being sneaky. Even though he was somewhat OOC, he wouldn't be able to spot the agents very easily.
"Beautiful girl," Aragorn said.
"Indeed. She has fiery spirit as well," Elrond replied. "Her brother gave me this." He handed Aragorn a letter from Lord Denethor. The agents crept up behind to get a good look.
I wish you to do something about my daughter, Eileena. She has developed interests that are unbecoming of a woman and a lady. I hope that stay with you will teach her, the way a lady should act in society. Please help me with her. Teach her to respect the word of her father and not to defy him, and to keep her opinions to herself.
I eagerly await her return and I hope for improvement,
"Since when did Rivendell become a finishing school?" Aerilyn demanded.
"Since when did Denethor care anything about Elrond?" Zera chimed in.
Aragorn and Elrond agreed that the Sue was indeed rather well-mannered. Then Elrond said something about 'revealing her heritage' and swept out of the room. Aragorn looked confused, but the agents were grim.
Their mood did not improve when the Sue suddenly became Arwen’s best friend, and sat with her at the feast that evening. They blended in well with the elves that were bringing food to the table, and so they were able to get close enough to the Sues to overhear the conversation. Aerilyn stubbornly stuck by Eileena, while Zera wandered over to see what the hobbit Sue was doing.
Things on Zera's front were rather boring, but Aerilyn had to put up with a disgusting amount of chatter between Arwen and Eileena. They were getting on swimmingly.
After the feast, they followed Arwen, Aragorn, and Eileena to a meeting with Elrond. The Sue went on about how all she wanted to do was to practice archery, fencing, tracking, and hunting, and her father, evil old codger that he was, would have nothing of it. In short, he hated her.
"My father may be a noble man, but he doesn't seem to care about the people of Gondor. I've taken it upon myself to govern the citadel, while Boromir and Faramir defend it," the Sue said sorrowfully.
Zera had a murderous glint in her eyes. "Oh, have you now?" She wished very much to stab the Sue's eyes out with a rusty spork, but she knew that Aerilyn would cut off any attempt.
It only got worse when they met the hobbits in the garden.
"Look at that elf," Sam said, speaking of the Sue. "She's beautiful."
"I'm going to be sick," Zera mumbled. Aerilyn helpfully handed her a paper bag, which she had rummaged from the murky depths of her pack.
"You are most kind in saying so, master halfing. But I fear that I am no elf," Eileena said kindly.
"I beg your pardon mistress," Sam said blushing shamishly.
"Shamishly? What?" Zera tossed the paper bag back at Aerilyn while she got out her notepad.
"Like a shamrock, maybe?" Aerilyn suggested.
"You can blush like that?"
"I don't think so..."
"Excuse me, my dear," Bilbo said politely. "But are you not sometimes called The Bane of Men?"
"Not yet Zera!" Aerilyn hissed, once again latching onto her partner's shirt. The hobbit Sue glanced back, but did not say anything. After all, they were elves in Rivendell, even if they were acting very peculiar...
"Ha! I see that my reputation proceeds me, yet again." The Sue gave Aragorn a 'secret wink'. "I am indeed called that. They call me that because they are many young men seeking my hand in marriage. They come everyday to court me, but I have never favored any of them."
"Just give me one second, I'll even charge her before I kill her, promise!"
Aerilyn clamped her hand over her partner's mouth.
"Really?" Frodo asked. "I would have thought a woman as beautiful as you would have found one you favored."
"Even Frodo thinks she's beautiful!" Zera whined as soon as Aerilyn moved her hand.
"Tone it down, they'll hear us."
"No. They all wanted to marry me for personnel gain so to speak." The Sue told Frodo, the hobbit with the 'deep blue eyes'.
"Personnel gain," Aerilyn snickered. That one was rich...
She managed to hang onto Zera long enough for the hobbits to leave. Gimli came walking along, and bumped into the Sue. How and why, neither agent could tell.
"Oh! Please excuse me. I did not see you," Eileena said politely.
"Quite alright," he said in a gruff voice. "Just don't let it happen again." He brushed past Eileena and continued down the hallway.
"What a very rude dwarf."
"I'll show you a 'rude dwarf' you..."
The Sue spun around and stared at the two elves behind her.
"Charge list, Zera. Now."
"I know! Eileena, 'lady of renowned beauty and skill with a blade', or 'Bane of Men', or whatever the hell you want to call yourself, I am pleased to inform you that you are charged with being a Mary Sue. Not only are we disgusted with the author's notes that we've had to suffer through, and I do mean suffer, but also with your appalling show of 'grrl' power, your amazing beauty, expertise in everything from hunting to governing a country," she paused to snort, "and all the while not even breaking a sweat. There's also that little matter of you breaking up a canon romance. Oh, and I didn't even mention the fact that you have prophetic dreams, and you're Aragorn's sister. Aragorn has no siblings, did you not get that?"
"Calm down there, partner," Aerilyn patted Zera on the shoulder. The other agent took a deep breath before continuing.
"And you turned Gimli into a rude pig," Zera said with finality. "Anything to say for yourself?" She notched an arrow in her bow, sights set on the Sue.
Aerilyn gave her a long look, noting the glint in her eyes. Erk... That was why she never made Zera too mad...
"What do you think you're doing?" Eileena screeched, and reached for a knife. She didn't have time to use it, however, as Zera shot her cleanly through the neck.
"Well, that was easy enough. Let's go grab that hobbit before she gets any farther," Aerilyn suggested. They left the first Sue where she was. She wasn't going anywhere. Just their luck, but the hobbit Sue was lagging behind. Aerilyn tackled her without warning, ignoring stunned stares from the other hobbits.
"Chrysanthemum Brown! I've already done this once today... Do I have to do it again, Aerilyn? Oh all right I will, don't glare. Chrysan... Chrysler, whatever... You have been charged with being a Mary Sue of the hobbit type, also with being annoyingly persistent in stalking Frodo, being an uncanonical companion to Bilbo, causing Aragorn and Gandalf to be rabidly out of character, and stealing parts from Sam. There's more here, but I can't read my own writing... Oh well, anything to say?"
"Murphle!" the hobbit Sue gurgled. Aerilyn was nearly blocking off her entire oxygen supply.
"Aerilyn, don't kill her – mine! ... Uh oh, heads up! Heroic hobbits!"
"Screw this." Aerilyn wasn't sure what the hobbits would be able to do, but she wasn't eager to be the subject of a mob, as was clearly their intention. She pulled out a dagger, making quick work of the Sue with a slash across the neck.
Even as they were nearing the agent, the hobbits stopped and blinked. After a few confused moments, they walked on back, seeming to forget the somewhat shocking mess behind them. Zera let out a deep breath, and then seemed to realize something.
"Hey, she was supposed to be mine," Zera protested. The Sue was indeed dead, however, so she stuffed her arrow back in her quiver.
"Well, I wasn't in a mood to be stabbed to death with Bilbo's cane," Aerilyn replied serenely.
"I wouldn't have let them do that," Zera said reproachfully as she followed her rather bloody partner.
"You weren't supposed to have the other Sue anyway, so we're square. There, grab the other one and let's get rid of this trash."
"Can we toss them off at Moria?" Zera grinned as she got a good grip on the first Sue. Aerilyn was carrying the hobbit Sue over one shoulder, but the other was human, and quite a bit heavier. Sometimes being an Uruk-hai had its advantages...
"Sounds peachy." Aerilyn punched up a portal.
Zera dragged her Sue first, and Aerilyn followed with the hobbit.
"Oh, it's daaaark!" the first agent wailed immediately upon stepping foot on the other side.
"Of course it's dark, twit. We're in a mine, remember? You've been here before..."
Nevertheless, Aerilyn pulled out a flashlight, which illuminated the walls around them. Just in front of them, a deep chasm seemed to swallow the light.
"I'll bet the Balrog's down there somewhere," Zera said, in a much better mood now that she could see.
"Probably. Toss her off, and let's be done with this." Aerilyn dumped her charge without any hesitation.
"Heeeere, Balrog, we've got nice food for you!" Zera called, and shoved the dead Sue off the edge.
"Now... We can go home." Aerilyn looked tired, but pleased with herself.
"If the computer beeps, kindly unplug it," Aerilyn told her partner as she flopped down onto her bed, bloody clothes and all. She left all of her gear in a disorganized pile in the middle of the response center.
"Alright." Zera didn't often see her partner so drained, but she guessed that her lack of sleep from the past few days was starting to catch up with her. She'd need to watch her and make sure that she didn't do that again...
"And don't touch my stuff. I'll put it up later," Aerilyn called just as Zera was heading for the pile.
"Oooookay," Zera replied, a bit disappointed. She noticed then that Oby-wan was giving her a hopeful look. "Oh, I'm sorry, buddy... I didn't bring you anything, but..." She ducked into a cabinet and pulled out a half-empty bottle of vodka. "Good enough?"
Oby-wan growled in reply, a tone that Zera recognized as an affectionate one. She smiled and patted him.
"Guess so." She glanced over at Aerilyn's chair, which was hardly ever deserted. She sat down in it, and pulled out a Rammstein CD from the pile of disks that littered the desk. Jay had liked Rammstein, she remembered. Geh... seeing Jay and Acacia in that fic like that had been downright creepy. Really, did Suvian authors have no shame? It didn't seem like they were mocking them... not intentionally, anyway.
She shrugged. No reason in getting worked up about it now.
"Authors these days," Zera muttered as she put on the headphones, and then pulled out a deck of cards for a good game of Solitaire.