Disclaimer: I do not own the "Protectors of the Plot Continuum", The Lord of the Rings, the Department of Internal Affairs, or much else, for that matter. But Scarg and Ellipsis are mine. Is that a good thing? Not so sure.
A/N: Here it is, after much, much, much ado. A solitary chapter of my PPC fanfic. Well, by now I imagine it's more of a fanficficfic. Or something like that. Anyways... Yes. This thing has taken an inordinate amount of time, and I've done so much reading and rereading of it that the better part of it has become ingrained into my memory. *makes a face* Ugh. But now it's done, or as done as it's ever going to get, and I feel ready to unleash it on the world.
Uh... Huzzah? *smiles*
Lesson number eight for the day: It is beyond difficult to strike up a conversation with a telepathic daisy. Especially if that daisy happens to be the Marquis de Sod, Director of Personnel.
“So… D’you have a spouse? Kids?”
No. The aforementioned daisy seemed peeved. With good reason, too. After all, the agent being addressed had been sitting in this particular daisy’s office for a long time. Not that the term ‘time’ meant much in the Protectors of the Plot Continuum Headquarters – through many attempts, nobody had ever been able to get a timekeeping instrument, be it watch or sundial, to be at all exact in there.
The agent sitting on the floor lapsed back into silence, fingering her rough sign that lay on the floor. It read, in rather irregular letters, ‘Partner or’ and then a hastily crossed-out ‘bust’ that had been replaced with ‘vacation’. Underneath that inscription, the sign bore a crude picture of something that slightly resembled a person clutching something that (just as slightly) resembled a flamethrower in what might be deemed a menacing position.
When fingering the sign wore thin its appeal, the agent picked up a sad little heap of electronics beside her and attempted to reassemble it. The late portable CD player started making odd sounds under her inexpert ministrations, and the girl decided that maybe she ought to have another attempt at talking to the Director of Personnel.
“So… Why haven’t you called in the DIA?”
The daisy was quite tired of her presence. Please, just get out of my office. We have no free agents to assign to you as a partner. I haven’t called the Department of Internal Affairs yet because they have better things to do.
Encouraged by the longer response, the agent forged on in her small-talk endeavours. “Such as…”
Such as their jobs, Agent Scarg. You haven’t become a danger to the health of any of the Flowers, nor to that of your fellow agents. As such, you are not part of their jobs. Having effectively dismissed the agent from its mind, the Marquis de Sod returned to leafing (quite literally) through a pile of paperwork.
Scarg, in the entirety of her PPC career, had only once encountered agents from the Department of Internal Affairs. That encounter was not one she liked to recall too frequently, as it had stemmed directly from the death-by-Mary-Sue of her late partner. With a subtle shudder, she derailed that train of thought before it reached its eventual destination—her, in a notably plain room, being talked to by some almost unnaturally calm agents wearing pristine matching suits.
Agent Scarg flopped down on the cold floor of the daisy’s office. Maybe she could take a nap… Sadly for her, these thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps. She turned to the door, her excessive curiosity kicking in.
The first she saw of her future partner was the well-polished tip of a brown leather shoe. It was shortly followed by the rest of the shoe, a leg, and the rest of the young man. He rapped officiously on the open door of the daisy’s office and waited for permission to enter. The Marquis de Sod turned his (its?) flower up to face the door. It seemed to recognise the agent standing there, for the young man was waved in with one of the flower’s leaves.
Agent Ellipsis? You again? The new stranger, who wore the potted cactus emblem of the Department of Mary Sues, seemed more capable of drawing emotion out of the daisy than Scarg. The Marquis seemed almost amused. I take it you’ll be wanting another partner.
“About that, sir…” Agent Ellipsis took a couple steps into the room, noticed Scarg sitting on the floor, and looked away from her, back to the daisy. “I was rather hoping…”
The daisy interrupted him. What happened to your most recent partner?
“This last one got a twitch and filed for a new department.”
That’s a pity. I really thought he was going to work out. The daisy heaved a mental sigh. And the worst thing is, you don’t even look the part.
Scarg, seizing the opportunity with both hands, unwittingly doomed herself to a terrifying partner. “Excuse me.” The girl directed her speech at the daisy behind the desk. “As you know, I am here to ask for a new partner, having evidently… lost my last one. If this agent… Ellipsis, did you say his name was? Anyways, if Agent Ellipsis is looking for a replacement…”
Maybe what? Are you presuming that just because you happen to have allowed your partner to be killed (at this, Scarg stiffened) and that this agent is conveniently looking for a partner, I will just match the two of you together thanks to some passing deus ex machina plot device? Before either of the assassins could answer, the Marquis de Sod continued, Nevertheless, that is exactly what I intend to do. I believe that Agent Ellipsis has expertise in most fields, including Tolkien’s world. Unless I miss my guess, you work in the Lord of the Rings continuum, do you not?
Scarg nodded, a smile creeping across her lips.
In a telepathic murmur, the Director of Personnel finished, At the very least, he’ll teach you not to ask for a partner again.
“Hey there, that’s not what I want!” Ellipsis looked unhappy. “I’d much rather work solo, thank you very much.” He didn’t sound like he was thanking anybody.
The Marquis de Sod just ignored him. If you would be so kind… The daisy gestured towards the door with an elegant leaf.
“Just wait here now.” The man crossed his arms crossly. “Am I to accept that I’m expected to push off with some girl I’ve never met in my… Before?”
Had the Marquis de Sod possessed eyes, it would’ve rolled them right then and there. Honestly, PPC agents could be so stupid. Since the alternative is expulsion… You don’t want that, now do you? Ellipsis looked paler now than he had been a minute before. Yes, I do expect you to accept that you will be working with Agent Scarg for the moment. Now shoo! Leave!
Ellipsis glared at the Director of Personnel and stood his ground.
Leave, the daisy intoned even as it turned back to its paperwork.
“C’mon, Ellipsis!” Scarg leapt up from her seat on the floor. She grabbed her sign and partially dismembered CD player and skipped out the door.
Ellipsis, though, did not follow her. He remained, staring at the daisy. “If she’s cracked, I may just have to pull a flamethrower on the lot of you.” Without waiting for a reply, he followed Scarg out into the ever-twisting hallways of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum Headquarters.
The daisy smiled in a secret way known only to daisies, and turned back to the petition for stronger, more plentiful Bleeprin supplies. Will he never learn? They’re all cracked.
“Response centre, sweet response centre!” Scarg flopped into an oversized (and heinously ugly) plaid armchair, dumping her things in a heap on the floor. “Well, Ellipsis, this is the response centre,” she introduced redundantly.
Ellipsis, a few steps behind Scarg, answered, “You know, I never would’ve guessed,” and sauntered in. Immediately, he was brought up short. “How do you walk in this? I can’t even see the floor!”
The entire room was carpeted in a rather soft material, one that supported your foot and had just that right amount of bounce in it, except for where it didn’t. Upon closer inspection, the whole floor was coated in a foot-thick layer of debris: half-finished sandwiches of uncertain provenance, discarded backpacks, interesting rocks (including, for some reason, a mid-sized marble bust of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), and even an arrow fletching kit (Feathery fun for Elves aged 25 and up! Contains small parts. Keep out of reach of children.).
Scarg glanced down. “It’s been this way since the movies came out. You know the drill—sudden swamping of Mary Sues, hardly any time in between missions. In the end, I gave up on ever not living in this place.” The girl bit her lip a little bit. “Besides, my partner was always the one who cleaned. You don’t mind, do you?” Ellipsis made no response. The blonde sprawled in the armchair pulled something out from under the cushion. “Mars bar?”
Not dignifying this query with a retort either, the young man bent down and picked a sock up off the floor. He threw it at the wall, and silently counted. One kookaburra, two kookaburra, five – no, three, four kookaburra, five kookaburra… The sock fell off the wall. Disgusted, he winced, but made no verbal expression of astonishment. After all, there were appearances that needed to be kept up.
Scarg fished a book out of the depths of her hideous chair as Ellipsis made his way gingerly across the room.
Though he was loath to admit it, Ellipsis was fascinated by the variety of objects scattered haphazardly around the response centre. It looked like something out of a “Where’s Waldo?” book, except instead of a funny-looking man with a walking stick, you’d have to find an item that didn’t look like it would shatter when you stepped on it. Rock, rock, book… Paper? Ellipsis picked up the paper that had caught his eye and made his way to the computer—one of the two landmarks in this mess of a room.
That script on the page – was it Tengwar? In the throes of curiosity, he took a seat on a raised surface (he assumed it was a desk), causing sheaf upon sheaf of unfiled reports to fall off of it. He began to translate the writing. There was a certain rhythm to it: interpret the scribble as a letter, gather the letters into a word, translate the word to English... He’d just gotten interested in the message when…
Ellipsis fell off the desk with an undignified yell and much flailing of limbs. Both his hands covering his ears, he groped for a volume control with his elbow—not an easy task. Without a moment of hesitation, he uncovered one ear and cranked the sound down. The infernal noise faded to a tolerable hum.
Scarg blinked. “Did you just censor yourself?”
At this point in time, let the record show that Ellipsis made an inarticulate noise of rage.
“Are you feeling quite right?” Then Scarg caught sight of the computer screen. “Hey, we’ve just been assigned a Mary Sue!”
Ellipsis, with an effort of iron will, restrained himself from strangling his new partner, and turned back to the screen. He murmured, “Elrond’s second daughter?”
“What was that?” The girl got up off the plaid abomination she’d been lounging on and walked over to the computer, only barely wary of tripping on the uneven surface.
Outwardly oblivious to Scarg’s question, Ellipsis said, “Didn’t you hear that sound?”
“The beep? Yep, I did.”
“Why didn’t you react, then?”
Scarg shrugged. “I got used to it.”
Having said her piece, Scarg scanned the page, then grabbed a backpack up off the floor and started shoving things into it—Canon Analysis Device, dead CD player, the remnants of the Mars bar she’d found in her chair, a towel...
Ellipsis’ left eyebrow, in an attempt to get away from the glare he was giving the story, crept up towards his hairline in a very unusual display of self-preservation. Unusual for an eyebrow, that is. Most humans displayed that same instinct when presented with this agent’s patented Look™.
“This one is going down. I don’t care that she’s mute and I might get sued for abuse to the disabled,” grumbled Scarg.
Having finished reading to his heart’s discontent, Ellipsis had started programming something into the computer, his fingers moving far faster than was human, or even elven. Not that Scarg noticed – she was busy. “What I want to get her for are amazingly non-descriptive passages and using slang. A lot of slang,” he said as he typed.
Having finished her packing, Scarg turned back to him. “Hey, what’s that you’re doing with my computer?”
“Your disguise,” he stated, swivelling away from the aforementioned device and grabbing his portal generator out of his pocket. The agent also picked up a bow, its greased string, and a quiver of arrows from off the floor. He looped the bowstring over both ends of the bow in a fluid movement.
Without any further ado, Ellipsis pushed a few buttons on his generator. A shimmering blue portal opened up and, grinning wickedly, he strolled into it.
“Hold up, hold up…” Still fumbling to close her bag without causing undue damage to the objects within, Scarg stumbled through the portal.
A cool wave seemed to billow over her body as her disguise fell into place. Instead of the wonderfully short brownish-blonde hair she was accustomed to, long, dark locks weighted down her head. The backpack she was dragging in her left hand transformed into a satchel made of supple leather. Her worn in jeans and faded black hoodie changed into a beautiful ocean-blue tunic, low-cut, yet modest. Her sparkling eyes—At this point, Scarg realized that she was being described ‘Sue-style, and focussed on looking as disreputable as possible.
“Spiffy get-up, Ellipsis. Thanks… I think.”
“Really, think nothing of it.” Ellipsis himself looked much the same as he had in their response centre, the only differences being that his tunic was no longer black (nor did it sport an insignia) and now a greenish brown sort of hazel, and his ears came to delicate points at their tips. His previously jet-black hair was now just a few shades shy of brown. He still had his belt knife and newly acquired bow. Apparently, the ‘Sue’s influence didn’t affect the style of his clothing as much as it did Scarg’s. “I portalled us in just before the start of the story. You and I should be hearing the author’s notes in a couple of seconds.”
“Brilliant.” Scarg, looking around, was rather disconcerted at the lack of, well, anything. Left to her own devices, she entered a story just after the author’s notes, so usually there was at least some scenery.
A couple of seconds later, a voice boomed out, “This is my second fan-fic. I had it on another site originally, and one of my reviews from Unádith recommended that I put it on here. It’s a bit AU as Arwen has a sister, but hey, it’s different! Oh, and I did not steal the idea from the Little Mermaid! A lot of people on the other site said I did. Now I’ll stop gassing. Here’s Silent Elf. Enjoy! Gilraen3.”
[Editor's Note: The badfic sporked is "Silent Elf".]
As the scene established itself (they were just outside of the Last Homely House East of the Sea, and the ‘Sue was in her bedroom thinking about leaves and sunlight) Ellipsis said, “She’s wrong on so many points… Being Elrond’s second daughter isn’t different at all. Moreover, from reading the summary, it’s almost exactly like The Little Mermaid, or at least the Disney production of it. Lastly, why had she been fumigating Imladris?”
Scarg groped for a strap on her newly be-satchelled bag and flung it over her shoulder. “Fumigating?”
“She said she’d stop gassing.”
“Ah.” Scarg looked at the Words, and after a moment, an expression of distaste imprinted itself on her features.
‘When she was younger, a witch had put a spell on her and stolen her voice, because Elrond was her enemy. That was over 500 years ago. The witch had never been found, but it was thought she would be dead by now anyway.’
“Wow. Where the fork did she get the bloody witch from?”
Ellipsis shrugged, and started walking into the non-descript building in front of him. “We’re going to have to kill her, too.”
“Believe me, I look forward to it. Are you starting a charge list, or should I?”
“Feel free to.”
Scarg trotted up to Ellipsis, unwilling to start the list without at least finding something out about the place they were entering. “So is she using the movie-verse Imladris or the book-verse?”
“All of the above? How should I know? She hasn’t said anything about it at all.” The young man blinked as his eyes adjusted to the sudden shade when he entered Elrond’s home, and muttered, “Stupid ‘Sues.”
Saying something about ‘having to do everything herself’ (though quietly – Scarg’s new partner wasn’t exactly warming up to her) Scarg started scrawling a charge list on her palm with a pen as she walked along the darkened hallway. She got as far as ‘forcing C. to bear another child, creating an evil witch with a vendetta against E., describing very few things’ before Ellipsis hissed softly and stopped, causing her to run into him. “Whoa!”
“Hush!” Ellipsis glared at the girl coldly. “You’ll get us noticed!”
“So? Elrond’s folks would just see us as their fellow Elves… Sure, Elves with a lot of weaponry, but Elves all the same.”
Ignoring this comment, Ellipsis struck off down a different hallway. When Scarg dared ask what he was so ticked off about, he merely snapped, “Look at the Words.”
Following her partner down the hallway, the young agent complied. ‘Rinamarth walked in the gardens of Rivendell, admiring the plants, and listening to the birds happily singing. She used to be a beautiful singer. She smiled as she remembered the times when she would sing for her family. She missed that. She would mime along to the music sometimes, but it was never the same. Her family missed her singing too; it had always brought cheer and happiness to their hearts. Since she had lost her voice, a happiness had left Rivendell. Hardly anyone sang any more. She had always been the one to do all the singing, and everyone else would follow. Now they had no voice to follow. Her sister Arwen was a beautiful singer too, but she didn’t like to sing without Rinamarth by her side. She always followed her sister. She still followed her, but not in that way.’
“Well, that adds onto my charge list… Lessee now… ‘Miming along to music (what?!)… making the Elves of Rivendell stop singing just ‘cos she’s dumb, thusly yanking many, many Elves OOC… pulling Arwen OOC by having her be a sheepish follower…’”
“Yes?” Ellipsis pivoted without stopping. “What is it?”
Scarg was confused. “I didn’t say anything to you. I was just reading additions to the charge list aloud.”
“You used the ellipsis in excess, then.” At Scarg’s bemused look, he clarified, “Ellipsis, the punctuation mark.” Facing forward again, he added, “See that it doesn’t happen again.”
At that moment, the two of them stepped out into the overly bright sunlight. Since it was one of the only things that had actually been graced with a description in the story, it was unbearably intense. Staggering forward with her hand over her face, muttering, “The yellow face… It burns us!” Scarg managed to get into the shade of Elrond’s garden. Ellipsis had sat down on a Random!Log only moments earlier, and was now reading the Words, judging by the slightly zoned out expression on his face. He was also, as Scarg interestedly noted, turning a very interesting shade of muted rage. Curious to see what it was that he was having such an adverse reaction to, she sat down on a handy rock (faintly patterned in plaid) that had been there the whole time, but hadn’t existed a second ago.
Therein lies the biggest advantage of a non-descriptive fic: its very substance is so malleable that the slightest whim of anyone whatsoever will become reality. If the ‘Sue wants a hand-maiden to appear, the servant will do so. If a Protector of the Plot Continuum wants a cucumber sandwich, he has only to think of it. Nevertheless, there are limits. Even the most dimly described story won’t allow for a convenient anvil falling from the sky, nor for an abyss suddenly appearing under the feet of a hapless girl. Pity, eh?
“If she wanted to make a point, (Scarg read) she would have to tap someone’s shoulder to make him or her notice her, then she’d mouth whatever she wanted to say. Or she’d write it down. She nearly always carried some paper and a pen round in case she needed it. This had improved her handwriting, and she could write fast and yet still neatly. She probably had the neatest handwriting in Rivendell.’
“’Neatest’ by virtue of singularity,” growled Ellipsis as Scarg scrawled yet another addition to her charge list. At the rate the messy black lines were progressing she was going to run out of arm-space very soon—provided she didn’t run out of ink first.
“I wouldn’t say that handwriting is singu…” The agent trailed off as two things sunk in. The first was the venomous look her fellow assassin was giving her (apparently, being in a ‘fic made him grumpy, and being with a ditz in a ‘fic made him even worse). The second, and slightly more awful matter, was the pen. “Wait. A pen? As in Bic? She brought a ballpoint pen into Middle-earth?” Scarg let that sink in. “Weird!”
Ellipsis was silent for a moment, but going by the way that he was fingering the dagger hanging from his belt, his intentions were the same as Scarg’s. Then he spoke. “No.”
“Not yet,” Ellipsis said, releasing the hilt with a sigh. “She needs to make a tangible reference to the witch. If you and I kill her with the witch just hovering in the ‘to be’, we’ll never get rid of her. And with her continued existence, the author’s influence continues and… You should know the rest.”
“Right.” The girl was every bit as regretful as Ellipsis, but she knew the drill. If you let just a single secondary character slip by before you filed the fan fic as completed, everything the author had distorted would stay that way. It was beyond common knowledge as to whether Arda had split off into alternate universes where Rivendell was a kingdom, and wizards could be female, in order to preserve a single canonical world, but all the same, the fact remained: one must be thorough with one’s exterminations. Otherwise, consequences (both for Arda itself and the assassins' I.O.U. pay checks) were grave. “But the second she does…”
“I second that motion.”
“Motion passed. The verdict: Rinamarth and witch to die the instant the latter is mentioned.” Scarg dusted off her hands decisively. “Now, let’s stalk us some ‘Sue!”
Ellipsis looked at her disdainfully, but followed when his new partner tripped off into Elrond’s gardens.
On that happy note, gentle reader, let us leave these two agents until the next chapter.
Scarg had been staring up at Rivendell for a long time now, and she had a crick in her neck. Despite the pain, she didn’t want to risk looking away. If she looked away, Elrond’s home wouldn’t be Elrond’s home any more. It would be a scene. A non-descript scene, worth less than the ‘Sue standing in it.
This won’t last…
That was such an unusually pessimistic thought for the agent to think that she actually looked around to see what had put it into her head. Nobody was there, but breaking eye contact with the building was a good thing. With a shake of her head, Scarg started walking into the structure once again. She was on her own. Coming to the conclusion that if the pair stayed in one area for more than forty consecutive minutes, one of them would do something regrettable, Ellipsis had decided that they would work in shifts. Scarg was currently on her way to relieve the young man of his turn watching Rinamarth.
Needless to say, this was not a much anticipated task.
Upon entering the building, the girl immediately found herself in the room where the ‘Sue was. No hallways, not even a little courtyard anywhere. There was just a big… room. It had received no description at all in the ‘fic, other than that it was big enough for a dance to be held. Scarg looked around and noted that it seemed deserted, except for Elrond, Arwen, Thranduil, Legolas, Rinamarth—the Mary Sue—and a bit character.
Ellipsis called out from a shadowy corner, “Over here.”
To Scarg’s relief, her fellow PPC agent was lurking just out of sight of the Mary Sue. She quickly made her way over, brushing shadowy elven forms out of her path. “You’re late.” Ellipsis looked his new partner up and down quickly. “You look terrible.” Then he realized what he’d said. With a shake of his head, he muttered, “[explicit]. I’m even speaking stupidly now. Well, it’s your turn now. Here, enjoy.”
He tossed the CAD to Scarg (who nearly dropped it) and walked out of the uncrowded dance room without looking back.
Scarg blinked. “Okay… Just you and me, then, penny ole pal.” She smiled, pulling her favorite black pen out of her satchel. As she was doing so, she noticed a movement out of the corner of her eye. Utterly confused, she checked the Words for an explanation.
‘“Do you want to dance?” he asked, holding out his hand. A smile crossed her face. She nodded, and took his hand. They went onto the dance floor, and danced. They twirled and spun, let go of each other’s hand, then took hold of them again. They would sway gently on the spot, and then the pace would quicken again, so they would turn a bit quicker. Everyone watched them in awe.’
Scarg watched the pair bemusedly. “Well… That’s one for the books.” When clapping started to emanate from out of nowhere, she snapped out of her daze and scrawled down a short phrase on her arm.
There was going to be quite a bit of scrawling in her near future.
“So now you have…”
“‘Forcing Celebrían to bear another child, creating an evil witch with a vendetta against Elrond, describing very few things, miming along to music, yanking many, many of the Elves of Rivendell out of character, writing Arwen as a sheepish follower, having a pen in Middle-earth with no reference to quills or inkwells, over-use of the terms ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’, naming an Elf ‘Veborion’, bad grammar, bad spelling, bad punctuation, a very bad dance sequence, using twenty-six pronouns and a single proper noun in the space of 185 words, redundancy, making Legolas a ditz, using in-text translations, creating supposedly elven clichés, er… Brie noodle? No, that’s ‘being maudlin’. Yes. That’s what we have.”
Ellipsis’s features were bleak. Nineteen charges in the first chapter alone, even with Scarg’s pen running out of ink. This was going to be a long assignment.
The two agents were reclining on a shallow bank beside the Anduin. During the past couple days, the assassins had been surviving using the usual strategy adopted for non-descriptive ‘fics: create what you need, as long as it’s canonical. So far they’d feasted on venison, fish and, in one particularly interesting taste sensation, miruvor with wild boar.
The two agents were both taking a break from ‘Sue duty. The bad grammar gave Scarg a headache, and it annoyed Ellipsis to the point of endangering the sanctity of protocol—he was tempted to kill the ‘Sue without charging her. Scarg was despondently throwing rocks into the river, while Ellipsis, keeping his distance from the rushing water and his partner, was whittling a piece of wood into the rough shape of a spinning top.
Plok. Another rock went the way of the Titanic.
Scarg laughed humourlessly. “Look at the Words, Ellipsis.”
‘“Adar, can Rinamarth and her family come and stay with us one day?” he asked hopefully. Thranduil looked at him. There was a certain gleam in his eye, a hopeful gleam.’
“Add what? Making Thranduil gay by use of the plural for ‘father’? Or being too thick to open a thesaurus?”
“Both. Why should I care?”
“Ellipsis… Tell me about yourself.”
Even a few days (fic-time) into the assignment, Ellipsis still hadn’t gotten used to his partner’s abrupt subject changes. He furrowed his brow, and gave the request due consideration for a short amount of time before saying, “No.”
“But I’ll tell you about me… Cummon, please?”
“No.” Ellipsis paused, seeing that the message wasn’t getting through, and added, “Besides, I’m not interested.”
“Humph. Fine. Have it your way.”
“I always do.”
A few minutes (or maybe it was a half hour) later, Scarg tired of throwing rocks into the river. It was accomplishing absolutely nothing. What she really needed to consider was the ‘Sue. She had taken days to do absolutely nothing, and if they stayed in the ‘fic any longer, Scarg was quite sure that Ellipsis would either seriously injure his new partner or loose his temper upon the Mary Sue too early. She brushed off her hands to get at least a bit of the dirt left over from the rocks off, and, picking up her bag, Scarg struck out downstream towards Ellipsis.
“Er, Ellipsis, partner mine…”
“What do you want?” Seeming to guess what the girl had on her mind, Ellipsis reached inside the little pouch on his belt and pulled out a mechanical doohickie.
“Might I ask you to portal ahead? Just a bit?”
The assassin stood up smoothly and, smirking, told her, “It would be my pleasure.” He then, with his fingers a full inch away from the portal generator’s keypad, made a shimmering blue portal appear. The shimmering blue portal was conveniently located beneath Scarg’s feet. Chuckling spitefully, Ellipsis watched his partner drop though the portal with a yelp and a futile wave or two of her arms. Once Scarg had landed, (on her feet, quite admirably) Ellipsis followed her through, making sure to close the portal behind him. He landed on Scarg’s head, also quite admirably.
“Hey, what’s the big idea? Jumpin’ on me like you’re some… Person that jumps on to things. Rudely,” Scarg said, disentangling herself from Ellipsis. She was so distracted by her predicament (and the nausea she suffered from plot holes of all types) that she didn’t notice how alarmingly little her partner weighed, nor did she see his limbs flicker where they touched her. Come to think of it, there were many things she didn’t notice concerning the young man. To her credit, though, she did see that his skin tone was a lot darker than it had been before he had jumped onto her head. “Er… Ellipsis?”
“No.” The pseudo-Elf brushed off his tunic and started walking away, presumably in the direction of the Mary Sue.
He spun around, but as he had in Rivendell, kept walking. Fortunately for him, the portal had deposited the two in the plains of Rohan (a few weeks later than they had been five minutes ago), and he didn’t have to watch out for walking into a tree. “What do you want?” he snapped.
“You’re…” Scarg cast about for an appropriately politically correct way of phrasing what she wanted to say. “Uh… African-American?”
Ellipsis blinked twice, the biggest sign of surprise Scarg had seen from him since leaving their response centre.
Ellipsis examined his hand. The dark brown of bittersweet chocolate on the top, pink on the palm and the inside of his fingers… This was definitely not the same pale complexion it had been before he dropped through the portal. It was even more definitely not elven, and therefore unseemly for the guise he was wearing. Did I over-extend myself with that portal? That’s ridiculous! Rolling his newly darkened eyes slightly out of irritation, Ellipsis checked to see if Scarg was watching him. She still was. This was a situation that would call for subtle manoeuvring… “Ai, what’s that over there?”
“Huh?” Scarg pivoted on one foot to see what Ellipsis was pointing at. There was nothing. She frowned and gave the plain a closer scan. Still nothing. When she turned back, Ellipsis was once again Caucasian. The girl raised her eyebrows, and Ellipsis prepared a scathing response to whatever it was his irritating partner was about to ask, but there was nothing. She didn’t say a word before setting off in his steps.
As a matter of fact, she didn’t say anything for the rest of the morning while the duo continued travelling east across the plains. Judging what was happening by numerous glances at the Words, Ellipsis discovered that the ‘Sue was wandering aimlessly and half dead by the outer reaches of Fangorn forest. Rinamarth had deserted her horse (leaving her water and food. On the edge of Rohan. The realm with long waving grasses covering the whole place. Grasses that are, surprisingly, edible for equines. Like horses.) and was being chased by Orcs. There had been numerous point of view shifts, but Ellipsis had portalled the assassins in far away from the ‘Sue for the express purpose of avoiding their effects.
Now the PPC agents were standing only about a thirty metres away from the outer fringes of the woods. Scarg looked towards the trees with just a hint of worry. She had been near to Fangorn forest on previous missions, and she’d never gotten over the sense of belligerent intelligence that emanated from the trees. They were watching her, judging her movements. If she was deemed a threat, Scarg knew she would be ripped limb from limb in less time than it took for her to say ‘Ouch’. The first time she had read The Lord of the Rings, she had been more scared of the Old Forest and Fangorn than she had been of the Nazgul. After all, at least with Black Riders, you knew for certain on whose side they were.
There was a solid tangle of brush surprisingly near to her that she swore had just moved. She was about to mention it, but her partner spoke first.
“Right,” said Ellipsis, breaking the silence for the first time in hours. “She’ll be crawling along, with Orcs at her tail any moment now. I’ll attempt to slow down the horde, if need be. All you’ll have to do is read out your list…” He trailed off. Scarg could just barely hear him mutter another ‘[explicit!]’ before the spatial shift caught up with them.
After hurtling through a blurry, stomach-churning void, the two landed in a shallow puddle somewhere in the middle of a nondescript field.
Then, a bunch of things happened in rapid succession.
Ellipsis, strangely unaffected by the point of view switch, pushed Scarg out of his way in his hurry to get out of the water. Scarg, caught off-guard by the unexpected spatial shift, tumbled into the dirty shallow pool. She did catch herself in time, landing on her forearms, saving the better part of her body from being slimed by the water. Unfortunately, this meant sacrificing the part of her charge list located on her lower arm to her cause.
It goes without saying that she was pretty darn ticked off when she stood up.
She didn’t stay stood up for long, because suddenly Ellipsis yelled, “Down!” and she threw herself onto the dry ground in front of her. Turning her head slightly, Scarg saw four hooves pounding their way towards her at a pace that somehow managed to contain the promise of the drawn-out agony of broken bones and sudden, painful death all at once. All thoughts of her training for what to do in moments like these (make yourself as small as possible and pray to any listening deities) went right out of her head. Raising herself frantically onto her elbows and knees, the panicked assassin was trying to scramble out of the way of the hooves when yet another void swallowed her.
The world spun around her for the second time in less than a minute, and when she felt steady ground beneath her, the pseudo-Elf immediately emptied her stomach of anything and everything it contained.
Ellipsis, crouched beside Scarg with his foot on the hem of something, smirked just enough to be noticeable. “Disgusting.”
“Shurrup,” Scarg croaked, still woozy from the last minute or so. She lay down next to the tangle of thorns she’d vomited onto.
“You did a good job, though. Nice aim.” He pulled on the elven cloak he had been stepping on, and it slid off the back of its wearer, exposing the illusion of brambles for what it had really been:
“EEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!!!!!! What did you just do? Who are you? Eeeeeeew!!”
Ellipsis made a rapid assessment of the situation. Location: Back at the edge of Fangorn forest. Partner: sick and useless for a couple minutes. Canon characters: out of sight, also useless. Bit characters: tangible and killable. Self: able-bodied, but without charge list on own arm. Only the very last was worrying, and all the rest could be dealt with if need be. All in all, not a bad time to make his move. But it would be better just to be sure… After all, assassinating without charging the ‘Sue would end badly for him.
“Milady, I have been sent by your father. He says that he loves you very much, and would like you to come with me now, please.”
The Mary Sue was confused. “No… I…” Frowning in consternation, she trailed off.
Rinamarth had just been barfed on by an Elf! Elves don’t get sick… They were pretty and perfect! And she couldn’t go with this strange male… She had something to do… She was running away, wasn’t she? And… She didn’t want to go back! Did she? Why had she left? This wasn’t right. Legolas was supposed to rescue her!
Seeing the ‘Sue’s inner conflict, Ellipsis rolled his eyes and hauled her to her feet. “Come, milady, the witch’s Orcs are fast approaching!”
“Alright…” Rinamarth followed the assassin for a few steps before collapsing to the ground theatrically.
By this point, Ellipsis could actually see the Orcs, and they didn’t look happy—though a normal state of being for Orcs, this was still a Bad Thing. The time was past for subtlety. Grabbing the ‘Sue and draping her over his right shoulder in a fireman/Viking-pillage lift, Ellipsis took off at a run for the cover of the trees.
Scarg, meanwhile, was still lying on the ground semi-conscious. This was not the first time her low tolerance for plot holes and other spatial shifts had left her almost incapacitated, but it was the first time she had been abandoned in such a state.
She didn’t wait long that way, though. From what she knew of Ellipsis, he wouldn’t be coming back to get her. It was up to her to follow her sadistic partner into Fangorn. She shuddered at the thought, but resolutely stood up on shaky legs. It was then, with her view un-obscured by grass and leaves, when she saw the Orcs headed her way.
Scarg’s eyes widened in shock, but she kept her head as best she could. Some rapid-fire thinking on her part (going into forest is bad, going into forest and being followed by Orcs is worse, fighting Orcs in open ground is better. Stay put) gave her a sketchy plan and she pulled one of her three throwing knives out of her belt. After running out of those, though, she would be down to her sword, and though she was skilled with that, there sure were a lot of Orcs headed her way…
I just had to leave my bow behind, didn’t I. I just had to trust that E-forking-llipsis would handle the long-distance things. Well done, me.
Grimly, she waited for the Orcs to get in range, shooting a glance over her shoulder to see if there was another party of the corrupted Elves behind her.
The PPC agent had never before thought she’d be glad to see ‘Sued!Legolas.
He came riding melodramatically out of the south, his blonde hair catching the sunlight in an appropriately shiny sweep of golden locks. As he rode, he loosed an arrow at the leading Orc, which fell down with a cry. The other Orcs just kept running towards the poor agent, who was caught in between an Elf, a small horde of Orcs, an evil forest, a rock, and a hard place. Though Legolas was still killing as many of the Orcs as he could from his position riding towards Scarg from behind, Scarg didn’t think there was any way he’d be able to dispose of all of them by the time they reached her. With a sigh, Scarg sighted down her first blade, all traces of nausea expelled by the adrenaline rushing through her body. Just as she was about to throw, something occurred to her. She checked the Words, and came to a quick conclusion: Legolas thought she was the Mary Sue.
After her initial reaction, (affronted) Scarg realized how helpful this would be. She was mulling over the possibilities when she heard the Elf’s horse behind her, and before she had time to react, Legolas’s hands grabbed her under her rather sweaty armpits and hoisted her onto the steed. Scarg hadn’t even heard a thump when he had dismounted! He muttered some Westron to the horse, which took off at a gallop with the PPC agent seated not so comfortably on its back. She twisted around on the horse and watched as the Elf turned back to the Orcs, who had just arrived, and started to take them down one by one. Worried about the canonical character, Scarg swung herself down off the horse (a difficult feat while still clutching a knife and while the horse continued to gallop) and started to run back towards the battle.
Her help was not needed, as the Orcs actually lined up single file, and fought Legolas when it came to their turn. Everything was going fine, until according to the Words… ‘An Orc stood there, holding a knife with Legolas’ blood on the blade. In one fell swoop; he lay dead on the floor with no head. A few more to go, and that would be that. They soon all lay dead at his feet. He turned and ran back to Rinamarth. He reached her, and she cried out at the sight of his cheek.’ Scarg stared in horror as the imprecise writing actually beheaded Legolas. The aforementioned Orc ran to Scarg, and, confused, spouted some non-elvish (and the translation in parentheses) to ‘Jaiston’, the horse about a hundred metres away. Before the scene could get weirder, Scarg reached up to the Orc and slit his throat with the knife she had luckily kept in hand. The Orc corpse vanished in a spurt of blood, and Legolas stood in its place.
Then, to make things even more difficult, the world gave a jerk, and part of the Canon returned. The now canonical (and disoriented) Elf stared at Scarg imperiously, an adverb that was somewhat undermined by what he said next. “Why am I here?”
Shocked, Scarg started stammering some explanation or another, but was cut off by the arrival of her partner. Somehow, the assassin had portalled in quietly enough that Legolas didn’t know of his arrival until he said, “Master Elf, all of your queries shall be answered by looking at this wand.” The Canon character whirled around, and as he did so, a bright light flashed and erased all of his encounter with this fic-verse from his conscious mind.
As Legolas blinked the spots out of his vision, Scarg started slinking towards the forest (both her fear and her knowledge that trees won’t hide one from an Elf forgotten) and Ellipsis created a replacement memory for the up-until-recently-‘Sued Elf. “You have been Orc hunting as a favour to Éomer King, as the borders of his land have of late become overrun with the foul beasts. The rest of your party had returned to Edoras. You stayed as the rearguard and came upon a group of Orcs. The sounds of battle drew me as I was travelling northwards, and together we slew them. Tonight you plan on returning to Edoras and singing bawdy elven drinking songs,” said the assassin in one breath, backing away all the while.
Legolas seemed to have no difficulty believing this. He mounted the plot device horse, Jaiston, and started heading south.
After the still-dazed Elf had gone some ways back towards Edoras, Scarg and Ellipsis came out of the cover of the trees. “So, what happened back there?” Scarg asked, curious.
Ellipsis seemed somewhat more cheerful than he had been previously, the reason for which was explained in his answer to Scarg. “Give me a hand with the ‘Sue’s horse?” His partner nodded wordlessly. “When I saw that you didn’t have much time before the Orcs arrived, I hauled the ‘Sue into the forest, where I promptly charged her with as many things from your extensive list as I could remember. I dipped into the Words once or twice for inspiration. I believe that this is the first time I have ever used ‘Conspiring to have a horse kick with its “powerful front legs”’ as a charge. After dealing with the legalities, I killed her and ran back to your rescue.”
“But you’re disguised as an Elf! Elves wouldn’t kill the daughter of Elrond, even if she was a ‘Sue.”
“Relax. I’m not stupid enough to take a knife to her throat while in this disguise. Did you really think I’d compromise this mission? It’s been going on long enough as it is.” Seeing that his partner wasn’t satisfied with this response, Ellipsis sighed long-sufferingly, and said, “I portalled to Treebeard, tossed her to him and said that she had betrayed her people. You don’t want to hear the rest, not if you have a delicate stomach.”
“Thank you! Now let’s take care of that witch.” Ecstatic with her partner’s apparently improved mood, Scarg mounted Aistel, Rinamarth’s horse, (with a plan in mind to bring it to a particular daisy’s office upon her return to HQ) and rode through the portal Ellipsis had created.
The duo (plus horse) found themselves on the banks of a non-specified river. Fortunately for them, the witch hadn’t arrived yet. Or more, she hadn’t at the exact moment of their appearance. Two seconds later, though…
“She could send herself from one place to another using magic, so she transported herself to the riverbanks, and there, she waited. She called to her Orcs to slow down; she could deal with it. She made herself invisible, so Legolas would not see her before he got there.”
“Look at the Words.”
There was silence for a moment, then Scarg said, quite eloquently, “Oh crudders.”
“I have an idea, but I’d need you to—” Ellipsis was cut off suddenly by the author’s version of a spell: a colorful fireball. It was zooming straight for his chest, and he only had an instant to react. The assassin threw himself to the left.
The area to his left was occupied by the horse. When he slammed into it, Aistel shied away, fighting Scarg’s efforts to calm it, then reared. Instinctively, the girl pushed herself forward and wrapped her arms around the horse’s neck. This didn’t work. She lost her grip and was dumped into yet more mud. She quickly jumped to her feet, darted away from the restive horse and drew her two longest knives. The PPC agent scurried to Ellipsis’s side, and held her weapons in a guard position, the left one forward, ready to deflect any blows, the right one closer to her body.
Ellipsis, after having crashed into Aistel, had reeled back into his former position. He then stood stock still for a moment, his eyes wide, staring at where the fireball had come from. He slid an arrow out of his quiver and onto the bowstring and loosed it. As he did so, he recited, “Nameless witch, you are hereby charged of the following crimes against the Canon of The Lord of the Rings: changing the nature of…” His arrow stopped in what looked like mid-air, but was presumably the witch. Smiling grimly, he finished, “Changing the nature of magic in Arda by your acts and your existence, and having a grudge against the Lord Halfelven for no evident reason. For these charges, you have been sentenced to death.”
The arrow, embedded up to its brown fletching in the invisible witch, swayed back and forth in the air, then tumbled to the ground.
Canon reasserted itself with an almost audible snap.
Ellipsis shot a look at his exuberant, muddy partner. “What are you cheering about?”
“It’s done! I survived an entire mission with you.” Realizing what she’d just said, Scarg corrected herself, “I mean, I made it through a whole mission with somebody who… I mean…”
“Just give me a hand with this body. After all, we’re not completely done yet—we still need to dispose of this thing.” Ellipsis was trying to define the body’s parameters by throwing dirt on the space around his arrow.
Scarg ignored his request, since she had something much better to do. She stared at the stooped figure in front of her, her eyes wider than they’d been for a long time. “You just said ‘we’. You. Just said. ‘We’.”
Her partner rolled his eyes very emphatically, and reassured her, “No, I didn’t. The world is as it should be, and I still don’t like you very much. At all, really.”
Scarg frowned, but since she didn’t often believe the evidence of her senses over other peoples’ testimony, she shrugged and took a few steps forward. She stopped. “No, you said ‘we’. You did!”
Ellipsis, acting as though he hadn’t heard a word Scarg had just said, grabbed the witch’s roughly outlined body. Then he shoved it towards Scarg. Glaring fiercely, he said in the most commanding tone Scarg had ever heard him use, “You will take this through the portal I will open. You will throw it into the pit there will be there. You will come back through the portal. You will follow me back into Headquarters. You will not speak while you do this.”
Scarg did so.
Immediately after she entered the R.C., before she even dropped her backpack, Scarg walked over to a small gong perched atop a lopsided bookshelf. With a fleeting look of pain and an air of unusual solemnity, she flicked the edge of the instrument. Before the metallic echoes faded, she used a pencil sitting beside the gong to draw another line in a long series of four vertical, one diagonal.
A visible switch back to her usual personality occurred as she dumped her bag and flopped into her ugly armchair. Scarg stretched her arms and legs. “Ahh… Good to be back. I love this place.” The girl glanced at her legs and, smiling, continued to herself, “These jeans, too. Tunics and breeches are not for me.”
Ellipsis strolled through the fading blue portal a second later, looking disgruntled.
“What kept you?”
Scarg sat bolt upright, smearing mud across the plaid of her chair. “Oshkoshb’gosh! You didn’t kill it, did you?”
“Of course I did. I’m an assassin.” Ellipsis was wearing his ‘annoyed’ face, not an unusual expression for the young man.
“That’s bad! I wanted it for…” A tool in my revenge against a certain daisy for pairing me up with you, she finished mentally. Out loud, she said, “Never mind.”
Ellipsis just glowered. He returned the bow to its former habitat, unstrapped the quiver from his back and put it down next to the bow. Then he (with much difficulty) walked over to the computer console and picked up the piece of paper from where he’d left it prior to the mission. After having completed these activities, he collapsed on a random spot of solid entropy and started to translate from where he left off.
He grunted. “Yes?”
“What was that pit I put the witch into?”
He shrugged. “Feeding trough.”
“Whose feeding trough?”
He practically smiled. “Mine, for Shelob.”
“Oh…” Scarg cleared her throat. “Good.”
The young man ignored her—he was getting good at that—and turned back to his translation. Scarg continued her sprawling. Silence peered into the room like a babysitter checking to see that his charges were behaving. It then snuck out to raid the fridge.
“Bomp, bomp, bomp… ‘Nother wun bites the dust.”
Ellipsis, his efforts at translating his mystery document thwarted once again, snapped, “Do you mind?” at his partner.
“Yes, that. Shht!”
Silence gave up completely, and passed the baton to quietness. Quietness, not a frequent visitor to the PPC HQ didn’t know better than to settle down and start unpacking its suitcase. It was rudely interrupted when, things having run full cycle indeed, an ear-splitting sound broke through the room.