((Disclaimer: Ahem. I shall quote… "Umm... We don't own this, Tolkien owns all, blah blah blah." So sayeth Halley… Also, we don’t own the story "Aragorn, Daughter of Arathorn" by Kita chan (http://www.fanfiction.net/read.php?storyid=1295071&chapter=1). Many thanks to Kippur for letting us play with Alec and Verra. So, with that in mind, please do proceed.))
All was quiet in Response Center 42 in PPC HQ. Farmir and Celborn, mini-Balrogs sent straight from the Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth, grumbled to themselves as they played on the floor with a fire blanket one of the assassins had found for them. The computer was mercifully silent for once. Of course, that could have had something to do with the fact that there was a large flamethrower propped up against the plastic chair before it, gleaming menacingly.
The assassin who had put it there was notably quiet as well. In the alcove she had claimed as her own, she had driven two heavy daggers into the walls, one on each side. From these she had hung a hammock, and was now making good use of it.
As could be expected, any sort of peace in this response center didn't last very long. From the doorway on the side of the room opposite of the computer, something flew very fast, making little noise until it embedded itself into the wall with a thud. In fact, the dagger, as if turned out to be, just missed the computer by an inch or so. Indistinct grumbling from the other room was followed by a vexed-looking assassin.
"Oh, for the love of..." The dark haired agent appraised her aim with hardly disguised dismay and then glanced over at the occupied hammock in the corner.
Celborn glanced up and rumbled in what was meant to be a pleasant tone.
With a startled yelp, Halley tried to jump up at the sound of the dagger, but unfortunately had forgotten where she had fallen asleep. A hammock, while a wonderful resting place, was not conducive to leaping anywhere. She fell from the hammock and landed in an ungainly heap, tangled in her blankets, pillows, and other bits of fluff that she had managed to stuff into one hammock. After a few moments of muttered cursing and a bit of struggling, she freed herself, and aimed a glare at her partner.
"What, are you trying to kill the computer? While I have thought about it from time to time, the SO won't appreciate having to call in Makes-Things for the umpteenth time this week," she growled, clearly unhappy at being woken so abruptly.
Talia observed Halley's dive with a good amount of amusement, but that look quickly faded.
"I wasn't trying to hit it!" Talia protested and crossed her arms huffily. She made a mental note to move that target of hers a bit farther away from the doorway. Somehow, bad things just seemed to happen between Talia and their computer. She generally had better luck with anything but that particular bit of metal.
"It has something against me," Talia said with a firm nod, as if that explained the whole situation. "Oh... erm... sorry about disturbing your nap," she added idly.
"Talia, it has something against everybody. You are the only one, however, who has decided to retaliate against the computer," Halley replied exasperatedly. Talia thought she was bad with electronics? At least she had never tried to kill the computer outright.
"You know, you might want to take that up with Fictional Psycholo..." Anything else she might have wanted to say was cut off by the sudden sounding of the door alarm.
Alec's department was notorious for getting the wrong assignments. It was like they were drawn there by improbability fields or something. He didn't know. While normally he would just send them on, this one… this one he wanted. It was evil. It was wrong. Unfortunately, it wasn't for his department. It was for the Mary Sue department. So, sharp pointy sword of Sue-ness in hand, he went down to talk to the two agents whom the story belonged to.
After some time he found the right door and kicked it open.
Talia turned to observe their "guest" with a surprisingly calm air. She gave him a slightly puzzled, slightly annoyed look. Didn't anyone knock these days?
"Um... can we help you?" she asked dryly after a short pause. Celborn sniffed curiously at the strange agent's entrance and looked a bit suspicious.
Halley eyed the stranger suspiciously. He was armed, and he didn't look calm. With a shudder, she remembered the last time one of the assassins had snapped... what if this was another such occurrence? Warily she backed towards the weapons locker, wanting something sharp and pointy in her hands.
Walking... no, striding like a king into the office, Alec went to the computer console and slammed the fic down. He then turned and looked as if he just noticed the agents for the very first time. He tucked a strand of black hair behind a pointed ear while standing straight. "I am Agent Alexander Raven Troven from the Department of Improbabilities," he said, holding his sword casually. "This belongs to you." He pointed to the story. "I demand to be allowed to help in the disposal of this travesty to the continuum."
If Halley's left eyebrow climbed any higher, it would be in her hairline. Perhaps this assassin wasn't completely mad... but he was within spitting distance of madness. Finally, her hands closed around a weapon. She wasn't sure what the weapon was, since she was keeping both hands behind her back, and could only feel the hilt, but that was good enough to lend her the boldness to deal with this stranger.
"I think you just did. Thank you for your assistance," she replied with her usual chirpy cheerfulness. Hey, it worked for those airline attendants...
Talia smirked and nearly said something, but she decided to leave it at that and see what the reaction would be. Halley always did have some witty remark to shoot back, whether or not it was in their best interests for her to do so. Talia recognized that glint in her partner's eyes... Halley always was more chipper when she had a weapon in her hands.
It was then that Talia realized she happened to be in between Agent Alexander Raven Troven and Agent Halley. She was pretty sure that this was not a very good place to be, so she sauntered casually on over to remove her dagger from the wall. She held that in one hand and snatched up the fic with the other. She then proceeded to glance over the first page while keeping a wary eye on Halley.
Alec shook his head and jabbed a finger at Halley. "You don't understand. I want to come with you. I want in." He brandished his sword, which was actually rather plain except for the dragon etched on the blade. "I want to eviscerate this Sue." He paused. "Among other things."
"Whoa, wait just a second there," Talia interjected, her gaze shifting up from the fic to land on Alec. "You want to come with us? I don't think that's going to work, pal," she said calmly, while absently twirling her dagger in one hand. "You're Department of Improbabilities, we're in Mary Sues, and besides, this is our job. While your offer certainly is..." she couldn't make herself say "kind"— "generous, I think we're going to have to decline. I don't know how this got to you before us, but it doesn't matter. I assure you, we'll manage just fine on our own."
Halley raised an eyebrow, surprised. This guy certainly wasn't short on courage... surely he had heard the story of the last person who crossed Talia. Poor guy was never the same since. Noting that both Talia and Agent He of Too Many Names for Her to Remember were busy debating whose assignment the story was, she sidled around the extremely pointy sword and snatched the fic out of Talia's hands before it could be taken away again. Quickly she scanned through it, trying to figure out what got this stranger so riled up.
"My giddy aunt on a pogo stick, singing the macarena," she muttered, shocked, as she read the first couple paragraphs. "What do we call her? She? He? Shim?" she asked no one in particular.
Alec persisted. "See, what she said. It's practically my department too! I mean of all the ridiculous things to happen…" He shook his head in disgust. "You have to let me come…" he pleaded, and then his eyes lit up in solution. "I'd even pay you!"
"We don't have to do anything," Talia retorted coolly, pointedly ignoring the bribery. "The fact is that it's ours now, and we're going to take it," she said stubbornly. "We still don't need you tagging along with us. We work as a pair. You shouldn't worry so much, we'll take care of it," she said, self-assuredly. Then she shot Halley a sidelong glance. "They've messed with Aragorn, have they?" she asked, one eyebrow quirked.
"I notice you don't offer chocolate," Halley replied absentmindedly as she skipped ahead a couple chapters. It was the usual drivel, besides the obvious glaring hideous point, but... oh dear Eru. She looked up at Alec coldly.
"No dice. This chick is mine," she snarled, and then stomped past both Alec and Talia to the weapons locker. She still had the weapon she had picked up earlier in self-defense — a letter opener. A sharp letter opener, certainly, but not something she wanted to bring for this Sue-hunt.
"Get your stuff, Talia. We're going," she growled as she stuffed sharp weaponry into her padded carry-all.
Alec looked at them icily and took a deep breath. For a second he seemed to grow slightly larger, a soft gray glow starting to surround him.
Then there was a knock at the door.
Talia eyed first Halley with a long look, and then Alec an even longer one. Of course, she wouldn't have been openly stunned if he had happened to turn urple, but she was obviously getting more than a little annoyed. She was about to walk on by Alec to get her stuff as well, but she looked towards the door. Another visitor? Whatever had made them so popular?
Halley glowered at the door, at first not deigning to answer it, since she had not asked for any more company. However, the pounding continued, and it seemed that neither her partner nor the multi-named stranger were going to answer it. She stormed over after slinging her now stuffed pack next to the portal generator and palmed the door lock. "Can I help you? she growled before the door was fully open.
As soon as the door was opened a crack, Verra shoved the door open as she stepped in. She took one look around before her eyes landed on Alec.
Crossing her arms, she glowered at him, saying, "Alexander Raven Troven where the hell have you been?" At the sound of her voice Alec jumped and spun around, startled.
A spark of energy flashed off of him and the envelope opener in Halley's hand turned into a piece of limp spaghetti.
"Verra," he squeaked. "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you. Braxious' baseball game starts in a half an hour."
"Oh," Alec said and deflated. "All right." With that, he turned around back towards the other two agents. "I've got to go. Sorry. Perhaps another time?" he asked.
"Hm, yes, another time perhaps," Talia said, obviously not promising anything, as she nodded curtly to Verra. She didn't like the idea of half of HQ, seemingly, crowding into their response center, but Verra was obviously going to rid them of Alec.
She didn't waste any time in striding on over to start grabbing weapons to bring along. She wasn't sure what had gotten to Halley like that, but she was sure that whatever it was, she wasn't going to like it.
Halley stared down in shock at the spaghetti in her hand. If he could do that... she sent a suspicious glance at the multi-named stranger. Since he was in PPC uniform, she decided he couldn't be what she suspected he was, and went back to staring at the limp noodle in her hand. While she waited for Talia to get ready and for the strangers to leave, she tried to figure out how to make the noodle into a weapon. A garrote perhaps? No, it'd break. A culture for her favorite poisons? Now there's a possibility, but not very effective in the short-term.
"Alec! Come. Now." Verra growled but instead of waiting for him to follow she snatched the tip of his pointed ear and stomped off, dragging him behind.
As they left, Verra's complaints and cursing could be heard echoing down the hall, curling paint.
Talia shook her head. Some ex-Sue agents were more odd than others, obviously. She was just grabbing a nice long dagger when she stopped for a moment to look at Halley.
"So, is there anything you want to tell me now before I see it for myself?" she asked bluntly. "You know, so that I have time to calm down so that I can keep you from doing something stupid."
"Here, read it for yourself," Halley replied once she had gotten over the shock of seeing the second stranger drag off the multi-named stranger. Life was certainly never boring around here. While she waited for Talia to find all of the really horrendous bits, she sets up the image generator.
"What should we be? I'd prefer elves, but elves wouldn't attack the Fellowship... But then, by the time we get to kill them, there isn't much of a fellowship to speak of. We could go as Rohirrim, but what would they be doing in Imladris?" she mused as she switched between settings. "We could go as uruks, but then we'd have to sneak around for most of the fic, and this chit is supposed to be a Ranger..."
Talia spared Halley a disdainful look before she went over to reclaim possession of the story, dragging her weapons along with her. She started to glance over the first page, but she stopped at the first page.
"What? This hasn't just been to Improbabilities. It's been to... Bad Slash, Misplaced Flora and Fauna..." She was now glaring at the fic accusingly. "Oh, this is going to be fun." She continued scanning through the pages then, varying looks of annoyance and extreme outrage crossing her face as she did so.
"What?" She was practically fuming then. "She... it..." Talia looked at a loss for words. She found a few after a moment's reflection.
"Anyone who messes with the Peredhil family has a date with me," she growled menacingly.
"We can be Rangers," she said, taking a very slow, deep breath. Her tone was almost sweetly light, which was, if anything, scarier than the growling. "Since we're going to have to track this... thing that's parading about with Aragorn's name all over Middle-earth. We'll have to switch to uruk once we get to Rohan." By that time, she would be too enraged and ready to kill to even notice the unpleasant sensation that came along with switching disguises like that.
Halley barely noticed Talia's tone, as she was to busy being torn between her extreme hatred of her new target and extreme excitement over their new disguises.
"Rangers! We can be all grungy and weapon-laden and no one will bat an eyelash!" she cheered, excitement finally winning. Happily she set the portal generator to the correct coordinates.
"I always did want to try some of Butterbur's ale," she mused, then looked over at Talia. "I suppose it would tick off the SO to no end if we joined in the battle at Pelennor Fields?" she asked hesitantly. "I mean, since we'd be Rangers and all..."
"That would be a bit of a stretch. Unless we wanted to hang around for quite a while after we killed the Sue," Talia answered. "You'd better be sure to grab that ale quickly... It looks like this Sue doesn't stay anywhere for very long. Horrid time-jumping, or whatever you want to call it. I call her a Sue... I don't know what she's done with Aragorn." Talia shook her head and stepped over to the portal. She looked back at Halley impatiently.
"Well? What are we wasting time for?" she asked pointedly.
"Coming, coming..." Halley muttered as she scooped her bag up off the floor and hopped through the portal. She was rather disappointed — killing orcs at Pelennor would be cool.
Talia simply shook her head and ducked into the portal after Halley.
A tall, dark-cloaked Ranger was what came out of the portal in Bree. Talia nearly stumbled as she came out on the uneven ground, but she straightened and looked around. Bree seemed fairly normal at first glance. They appeared to be outside of Bree itself, but the gate wasn't too far away, just visible in the darkness. The only odd thing was that there seemed to be some confusion over the weather. The sky would be clear one moment, and cloudy and stormy the next.
Talia blinked. "Stupid book- and movie-verse switching like that. Great... how are we going to get in?" She asked dryly as she checked to make sure she had all of her things in order. "I doubt that the gate warden's going to like the look of us."
Halley shook herself, a strange gesture from the tall, muscular Ranger. She had begun with examining the musculature of her new body, which pleased her to no end. If only she could take this body back to Headquarters... there were some cute male agents in the X-Files division that she wouldn't mind getting to know better. Then she spent some time in open-jawed awe of Bree. Of course, the weather was rather disconcerting. It was hard to admire how the stars could be seen even this close to town when the clouds kept getting in the way.
"Right... well, we could jump the gate, like the real Aragorn does in the book," she suggested. Then she got a good look at the barrier. It too was shifting... one moment, it would be a great dike with a hedge on the far side, with the only thing that was really scalable being the West-gate. Then it would shift again, and there would be a high wooden wall stretched around the town. She had no wish to climb that, then find herself in the dike, then get swallowed when it shifted back to movie-verse Bree.
"Or, you know, not. Perhaps he won't hate us that much," she suggested.
"It would be rather nice if it weren't for the dratted shifting. We should be grateful though, because later everything goes crazy... not movie- or book-verse. Sue-verse," Talia muttered as she shouldered her pack and walked on down the road towards the gate. "I'm thinking we'll take our chances with the warden," she said, also noticing that getting caught with the changing wall would be quite unpleasant. "You can try some of your charm on him, anyway," Talia smirked.
Halley grinned in agreement, then groaned. That was the problem of being an agent... the rules canons live by don't quite apply to them.
"Problem. How are we supposed to get the gatekeeper to notice us when he's canon? Canon people can't see us unless we practically tackle them, or the Sue notices us. Since we really don't want the second option to occur, and we can't really accomplish the first..." she let the sentence hang in the alternately crisp and misty air. Then she noted a small band of travelers, men from Archet from the look of them, hurrying up the West-road.
"C'mon, we can squeeze in with them!" she called, and bounded over the rough ground towards the gate.
"Well, if we pounded on the gate, I think he'd probably come open it to see what the fuss was, but..." Talia blinked and then muttered as she broke into a run to catch up with her partner. It was a stroke of luck that they weren't the only ones wanting to get into Bree this night. Also luckily, the Sue hadn't messed much with the whole of the town, just the Prancing Pony, mainly, so otherwise canon seemed to be getting along without too much trouble.
Talia had only gotten so far into scanning the Words (which she still had a firm grip on), but she remembered that they would have a few minutes in the Prancing Pony, where hopefully she would be able to read on a bit, before they would rudely be jolted to some forsaken, bloody cliff between Bree and "Riverdell." Talia wasn't sure if she and Halley would be caught in the time warp or whatever it was, or if they would have to do it the old fashioned way and walk. Either way, they were in for an interesting trip.
They managed to sneak into Bree without any trouble, and the way to the inn was easy enough, since it was a major hub of activity. However, once they were inside...
"What is an excited miniature horse doing inside the inn?" Halley muttered to herself, staring at the frolicking creature. As she grumbled, she pulled out a pad of paper and her handy pencil and wrote "Forgotten capitalization" in bold letters at the top of the page.
"What..." Talia scanned down the first page. "Oh... wonderful." She shook her head and then grabbed Halley and dragged her towards an empty table.
"Come on, she'll see us," Talia hissed. "Her eyes may be 'barely visional' but she may stop staring at Frodo long enough to notice two Rangers."
Halley quickly sat down and pulled her cloak tighter around her body, hoping to meld with the shadows a bit. After getting over the horse that seemed to be quite happy living in an inn, she got down to work. There was their Sue — doing her best impression of Aragorn, though she hardly looked like Aragorn at all. She was wearing chain mail, of all things, and her cloak kept trying to turn into a cape.
"What do you think she's done with the real Aragorn?" she hissed at Talia.
"Plothole, I suppose. It's going to be fun tracking that one down," Talia said as she glanced through the next few pages. "From what I can tell, she's even formulated her own little past in flashbacks... She's delusional, this one." She looked up to see someone walking in their direction. "Oh, that must be 'inn keeper' himself. If you wanted some of that ale, you'd better grab it before he gets to Frodo over there." For the moment, everything seemed to be mainly movie-verse. If you got over the fact that a live pony was in the room and that "Aragorn" was a woman, that is. Frodo seemed to be almost normal at the moment, Talia noticed as she watched him staring at the pseudo-Aragorn.
Halley sighed dejectedly.
"No, it won't be the same. Anyway, Barliman's brew is supposed to be better after Gandalf blesses it. Since Gandalf never seems to show up here in this fic..." She let the rest hang. Canon was being tortured, and they both knew it. Before she could stew over that too long, her attention was distracted by a sudden flare from the Sue's table.
"Tell me that was one of Gandalf's fireworks..." she muttered as a candle attempted to swallow the Sue whole. At the same time Pippin let out a shriek which sounded suspiciously like his lines from the movie, but in a much more hare-brained tone. She barely had time to take this all in before the Sue broke free of her candle prison and hauled Frodo up the stairs. Halley blinked, confused. Why did Frodo have a magician's outfit on?
"I'm not going to ask," Talia muttered as both the Sue and Frodo pulled a "disappearing act," as it was referred to as constantly, and abruptly arrived in some room elsewhere. Talia really wished that Sues wouldn't be so dramatic at times, because it really did make a difference. Poor Frodo dressed up like a magician because of all those "acts"...
"All right, this is confusing," Talia complained. "We've got hobbits appearing and reappearing and even the 'innkeeper' gets in on this magic stuff."
Just then, she heard Sam's voice, his line incredibly movie-like, aside from the fact he called Aragorn "Longshank."
"The Sue has only one leg?" Talia pondered, both eyebrows quirked just a little. "Hm. Much snapping going on in there... Gah, we're starting to switch over to book-verse for a minute. All this is starting to make me sick. What are we going to do now, anyway?" she asked Halley as she heard the Aragorn-Sue laughing. Why couldn't they just kill the stupid Sue now and get it over with? Talia wondered miserably. Of course, they would have to find the real Aragorn...
Halley was about to mention that they should go follow the Sue, just in case she did something that required visual rather than auditory confirmation, when the "innkeeper" dashed by. She was rather disappointed in the strangely plain little man — she had a soft spot for Butterbur. Instead of wasting time debating whether or not they should chase the Sue, she hopped up and followed the innkeeper, reasoning that such a decidedly non-canon creature would stay close to the Sue for as long as possible. The Sue and the affected hobbits were not too far away, and Halley arrived just in time to see the Sue "renter" through the darkness, which looked suspiciously like jumping out from behind a door to prevent being squashed by it.
"Good try," she muttered in appreciation of the innkeeper's attempt at Sue slayage. The poor man then, completely in character for a inn-keeper of Bree, warned the hobbits that Rangers couldn't be trusted. Halley nodded in appreciation. Just because their leader happened to be played by someone who looked good on film did not mean every Ranger was automatically trusted. Besides that, this Ranger was a Sue... definitely not to be trusted. In return, the Sue puffed up mightily and snarled.
"This coming from an Inn keeper who only knows his name by having people scream it at him all day! You have something for the halflings, give it to them."
Halley looked on in dumbfounded shock. "She ruined one of the best lines in the book..." she moaned, watching miserably as the innkeeper suddenly reverted to book-verse and handed Frodo a letter. Halley winced at the modern postage on the envelope, complete with cancellation stamp.
"I still wish you would warn me before you go running off," Talia said, just a little out of breath from her sudden dash after her partner. She leaned against the wall, and listened for a moment before she startled. She took this moment to write down some completely illegible scribbles on a notepad, just for future reference. She then put away that so that she could flip through the fic once again.
"Hm, don't you think we should wave an analysis device at these people sometime?" Talia asked as she looked over the Words. She absently started to reach for where hers was when a startled look crossed the Ranger's face. She'd just read something that she knew couldn't be right...
"Wait, if I'm reading correctly, right now would be just when the Sue—"
She was cut off very rudely and abruptly, because they were jolted suddenly from the room, and Bree itself. It almost reminded Talia of how lightning struck... She came to this conclusion as she found herself dumped at the bottom of a hill that looked much more like a "cliff" than anything. After the shock wore off, her expression turned quite deadly as she looked to the Sue and hobbits just ahead.
"Oh dear Eru..." Halley muttered queasily, trying valiantly to keep her breakfast down. Time-shifts, especially huge gaping ones like that last jump, always made her feel like she had been on a particularly vicious tilt-o-whirl. Slowly her surroundings registered in her dizzy consciousness. She stared blankly at the cliff.
"Hobbits don't rock-climb," she pointed out, doing her duty in stating the obvious. "Or I should say, Sam doesn't. At least not without some good sturdy rope." With that realization, she began digging in her pack, looking for her Canon Analysis Device.
"True, but... what rock would they be having to climb anyway? This cliff thing... I don't remember it being on the road to Rivendell. That's changing geography all right," Talia said dryly, and took a couple more notes of that before standing up.
"I'm not even going to go into how wrong this is. She's skipped so much... she left Bill! She... bah." Talia shook her head and then turned to search through her pack. She pulled out her Character Analysis Device and pointed it at Aragorn.
It made a very interesting noise and Talia glared at it suspiciously. It seemed to be alternating between [Aragorn. Human female. Non Canon. Mary Sue] and [Aragorn. Human female. Canon] and constantly screeching the whole time.
"Stupid thing can't decide if she's canon or not," Talia said with a snort. The time jump must have not done it much good. She hit the device and it abruptly quit switching and making noise aside a final "blip," and decided on "non canon" and of course "Mary Sue."
"I thought so. That's not Aragorn at all... not even a possessed Aragorn," Talia noted grimly. She had suspected as much.
Halley watched Talia operate her CAD, her expression a mixture of longing and good old-fashioned lust. Her CAD was an older version of the new Character Analysis Devices. She couldn't get Makes-Things to give her a new CAD. It wasn't like she meant to blow up the last three she had been given... shaking her head, she pointed her CAD at the Sue.[Turnip,] it blinked at her. [Crunchy.] She stared at her machine and wondered if the effects of Sues extended to electronic devices. She restarted the CAD and tried again.
[Holy Hand Grenade.] Halley decided that she must have dropped it in water at some point and quickly returned it to her pack. She was just in time, too, because just as she cinched the pack closed, the ground beneath her feet turned to muck, and she sank up to her knees. The cliff was gone, and they were all standing in a swamp. An unnamed swamp out in the middle of nowhere.
"Have I mentioned recently how much I hate Sues?" she grumbled, but before she could get a reply, the scene shifted again.
"Lovely, just lovely," Talia muttered fiercely as she stomped mud off her boots and shoved her analysis device back in her pack once they'd landed on Weathertop. She saw the hobbits off to one side, and then Aragorn off to the other, apparently "wondering around without the hobbits." She seemed to be off in her own little world at any rate. While the Sue lounged about lazily, Talia continued to mutter about the wrongs done not only to canon, but also to the agents personally.
"That CAD of yours is quite a help, isn't it?" Talia asked Halley in the few spare moments they had while the Sue was still "wondering."
Then another odd sort of time jump happened, and the Aragorn-Sue arrived to lean over Frodo, torch in hand. Talia was about to express concern over the flammable qualities of hobbits when she noticed something else in the torchlight.
She gaped for a moment, and then despite her ever-growing sense of hatred towards the Sue, she nearly laughed. "Stoned... trolls," she observed rather calmly.
Halley swallowed the bile that was rising in her throat from the constant time-jumps and looked up at that last comment. It was true. There, just on the outer edge of the light cast by the torches, were three huge and very much alive trolls. All three were drugged out of their minds. Halley clapped her hands over her mouth to keep her laughter from escaping. Her shoulders shook convulsively — this was almost as good as Long Table Elrond! Just for kicks, she pulled her CAD out of her pack and pointed it at one of the trolls.
[Duuuuude... like totally, not canon.] She raised an eyebrow at this, but accepted it. It was certainly more helpful than "turnip." She sidled up alongside Talia as she watched the Sue glance over some sorted weeds. She thought that maybe this was part of the trolls' stash, and made a mental note to grab some before they left. Those trolls certainly looked happy. Perhaps Makes-Things could put them in a pill form for assassins to take when the Sues became too horrendous.
"Isn't this the bit in the movie where Arwen showed up? I'm rather hoping she'll go with book-verse on this and let me see some Glorfindel..." she whispered. There wasn't much noise in their vicinity, and she didn't want to be heard by the Sue.
"Kingsfoil... hmm, I had no idea it had so many different uses," Talia murmured as the glanced from the oblivious trolls to the Aragorn-Sue, who was searching for more kingsfoil, supposedly.
"Are you sure you'd want to see Glorfindel in this fic?" Talia asked testily. She wished very much that this Sue had forgotten some certain residents of Rivendell that Talia could name...
Then the voice came... a new voice, elven and male, but definitely not Glorfindel. No, this elf was dark haired, and quoting directly from the movie.
'Arwen?' The Aragorn-Sue queried and Talia had a sudden urge to beat her head against something hard... like that cliff they'd left behind a while back.
"Arwen... is a male? Oh geez, that is just ick." She shook her head and glanced over at Halley. "Get ready, we'll be heading down to 'Riverdell' in approximately three seconds," she said while glaring coldly at the elf that was being called Arwen.
"No, not again..." Halley moaned as the scene abruptly changed. The assassins found themselves in Riverdell, which vaguely resembled Rivendell. Frodo was still sleeping off the last effects of what Halley assumed was the Morgul blade, but couldn't be sure since that scene had been skipped entirely. Perhaps he was sick from the time warp. She could sympathize. Sam, who was standing off to one side, looked unhappy that the Sue had taken the closest chair to his master. At least he seemed to be able to shake off the Sue's irritating aura. Halley quickly ducked behind a dresser, pulling Talia down with her. Suddenly their Ranger outfits didn't seem so well-chosen.
Talia was about to mutter something, but she realized that with the Sue in the room, this probably wasn't the best idea.
Luckily for them, the Aragorn-Sue decided to go out for some "fresh air." Talia wondered why anyone would feel the need to go outside in such a house as Elrond's, but of course this was "Riverdell" not Rivendell.
"The only ones that will notice us are our Aragorn and Arwen, because I'm believing Arwen has the same problem as Aragorn... kidnapped. Do you think we should to switch to elves? After all this time-warping it wouldn't make much of a difference," she growled. For a Ranger, she was looking awfully pale.
"I didn't plan on having two bloody Sues to follow around," she said as she went over to peer out the doorway. She'd been hoping that Arwen would be just radically out of character somehow.
Halley looked up and squinted as she read the Words.
"Changing would be a good idea, but we're going to have to do it quickly. In a few minutes we get to see the only remotely in-canon Boromir in the entire fic. Poor guy... he comes to Rivendell to save his people, and gets sucked into a Sue," she noted mournfully. She had a soft spot for the Gondorian nobility... even Denethor to a certain extent. Trying to live a normal life while living next door to the biggest villain since Melkor had to make things difficult.
Quickly she hunted through her pack to find a portal generator. When she came up empty she scowled.
"Did you steal my portal generator again? I'm not that bad with electronics. It's not my fault my last couple of PADs exploded!" she grumbled.
"I didn't take it," Talia said defensively. "Don't tell me that you've lost it," she groaned. Maybe it would have been better if she had stolen it. If Halley had left it behind in Bree... that was a cheerful thought.
"Estel! Could you show this man to his room. And brush your hair."
Talia's angry muttering remained to a just barely incoherent level, though it was very obviously insulting towards the Mary Sue. That would be Elrond who had spoken... and he was acting like a complete idiot. Talia had almost been ready to say that he'd been kidnapped too, but it was more likely just the influence of the Sue.
Talia shook her head and threw down her own pack. "Well, I didn't take it but we've got to find that thing," she said as she began rummaging through it. "Help me look for it, it has to be here somewhere," she commanded.
"What, you don't think I can find things in my own pack?" Halley replied tartly, but she complied anyway. This time, instead of simply rummaging around in the pack, she took everything out, one item at a time, to be sure the portal generator wasn't hiding somewhere. A deck of playing cards with the Doctor Who motif came out first, followed closely by a packet of lembas, her CD player with headphones, a half-eaten Snickers bar, a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, and a batarang. Her pack was still three-quarters full, but she paused to look up at Talia.
"Are you sure you don't have it? You usually get the better electronic stuff..." she added wistfully. She really wanted to get her hands on one of those flashy-thingies from the MIB canon. Now that was a cool toy.
Talia shook her head, but didn't reply. There were sounds of metal clanking about in her pack, and one might have wondered how she was able to dig around in it without losing a hand. She pulled out her analysis device and set it aside before searching again. She pulled out a bag of chips and looked at them thoughtfully. So that's where she'd put them. She put those aside, too, and continued digging. Several devices of various descriptions were inspected and then either put aside or shoved back in the pack.
"I haven't got it," she said testily. "Do you want me to dump the whole thing out and prove it?" she asked, not really joking.
Halley sighed and continued to empty out her pack. A copy of the extended version of Myst, a dog-eared copy of "Anesthetic Techniques in the Veterinary Hospital," a pack of gum, and a glow-in-the-dark yo-yo joined the pile. The remaining items in her bag clanked ominously, and she very carefully continued her search. After several long minutes, she looked up and grinned sheepishly.
"Oh, here it is." she muttered as she began shoving all of her stuff back into the bag after carefully laying the portal generator to one side.
Talia rolled her eyes as she hastily stuffed the rest of her things back into her pack. She snatched up the portal generator as Halley worked to get everything back in place. Talia wondered how she'd managed to get all of that junk in there in the first place... and why she had some of that stuff. However, she knew it was probably better not to ask.
The sounds of the Aragorn Sue and Boromir faded away as they headed down the hallway. They wouldn't have long...
Talia quickly punched in the correct coordinates and opened up a portal.
"Come on," she told Halley as she picked up her now full pack once again and prepared to step through.
Carefully placing the yo-yo on top of the haphazard pile of stuff in her bag, Halley cinched the pack shut and hauled it onto her back.
"Going! Sheesh, impatient impatient..." she grumbled under her breath as she dove through the portal, only just keeping her feet under her when she reached the other side. Only Farmir tugging on her jacket as she came through kept her from completely falling back into Middle-earth. Even that was a mixed blessing — now her jacket had scorch marks. It is very hard, however, to be mad at a mini-Balrog.
"Awwww, thank you, Farmir!" she finally settled on saying, deciding that the new holes actually looked pretty stylish. Without waiting for Talia to appear, she stepped over to the disguise generator and began fiddling with the switches.
"Now, I think this is the one that makes you an elf..." she mused out loud as she flipped switches, seemingly at random.
Talia stepped through the portal and noticed Farmir and Celborn waiting for her. She turned around and noticed Halley already flipping switches on the computer over to the side. Celborn sniffed at her while rumbling in a curious sort of way, and, seeing that she was just fine, then walked over to see what Halley was up to with the computer.
"You think?" Talia noticed that didn't sound quite reassuring. She still felt a bit sick from all the jolting, so she didn't feel like getting into an argument over it. She just wanted to get back in there and get rid of that awful Sue, and find the real Aragorn.
"Well, here goes nothing."
As the portal opened back up, she gripped the copy of the fic and stepped in quickly.
When she came out of it, she was very surprised... too much so to properly notice that unsettling feeling. She was very certain for a moment that something had gone terribly wrong, but... it was Rivendell, at least the weird, distorted one that they had just left.
But... she had... whiskers?
The answer was rather apparent. She did, indeed, have whiskers. The first thought that ran through her mind was rather undiplomatic...
"Halley, I am going to strangle you," she commented very calmly as she peered down where her feet should have been, but instead there were paws.
Halley gave Farmir one last careful pat before hopping through the portal as well, which snapped shut behind her. As she had been planning to land on two feet, she was rather thrown when balance demanded she be on all fours. She was rather gratified at how quickly she was able to compensate, however. That bit of self-pride vanished when she looked around and noticed a huge Siamese cat staring at her. This wasn't your normal tabby — the feline was larger than a burly Gondorian and those teeth looked wicked sharp. With a yelp Halley backpedaled in an effort to get away. What had the Sue done? Scared and confused, she lashed her tail... wait... her tail?
Her eyes widened as she stared down at her haphazardly patterned tail. Black and orange and brown... while she tried to grapple with the implications of a tail her mind helpfully supplied the name of that pattern — a tortoiseshell, or tortie.
"Ummm... cat... thing... are you Talia?" she asked hesitantly, not entirely sure if she wanted to know.
Talia had been studying her grey paws, flexing her new sharp claws with some interest, when Halley came through the portal. Instinctively, her ears flattened slightly, and she growled quietly, both out of surprise and out of aggravation. While such a sound was not too frightening when it came from a normal cat, this growling was loud enough to be somewhat startling.
"Yes, it's me, you twit," she hissed once she heard the huge tortoiseshell cat speak, her own grey tail flicking at the air angrily. "What did you do?" she demanded, blue eyes narrowing dangerously as she tried to make some sense of what had happened. They had to be something from canon, as the generator didn't have anything that wasn't, but she was having trouble remembering where gigantic bloody cats fit into Middle-earth. They didn't have much time to figure this out either, as Elrond was about to come back, and Talia was dreading that.
"I didn't do anything!" Halley retorted, instinctively backing further away from her irate partner. "I swear, I set the disguise generators to elf!" she added. Actually, she was only pretty sure she had set the generator to "elf"... she had never actually had the opportunity to work the generator by herself before.
"I just can't figure out where cats... quick, hide, the Sue's coming!" she yodeled as the room they had re-appeared in morphed into a skewed representation of the council area from the movie. Halley bolted up the nearest tree, her newly discovered claws making the climb ridiculously easy.
Talia didn't wait around to ask anymore questions. She shot up the tree nearby Halley's. She was wondering exactly how the Sue would miss two huge cats sitting in the trees just off to one side...
"We missed the part!" Talia wailed quietly. "Did you catch that one? She accused Elrond of cross-dressing!" She growled quietly, trying her best to keep quiet, but that was enough to make her see red. She even forgot that she was a feline for a few moments in light of such a thing.
"It's like a bad crossover," she muttered to herself, tail still flicking in an agitated way. They had also just missed the part where the Sue was cleaning out her nails with a dagger. Talia thought that was rather stupid.
Her complaints were interrupted by bells, very loud bells, it seemed to her, which called council members to come out onto the platform.
Halley nodded miserably as the council plus Sue took their seats. At first all seemed normal, even slightly book-verse, which cheered Halley considerably. She settled down for a fine elvish re-telling of the end of the Second Age, when a booming voice nearly scared her out of her fuzzy skin.
"Anyone who just seen the movies, Elrond was a Herald in the war of the ring, but he makes it sound like he really did something," the voice announced snottily, the sound of which nearly made Halley screech in protest. She settled for quietly shredding the branch she was sitting on with her new oh-so-sharp claws.
"Two-bit snot-nosed lazy-arsed one-cell-brained twit!" she growled, her voice rumbling low in her throat. Shreds of bark showered down onto the dwarf below her.
" 'Makes it sound like he did something'!?" Talia was almost speechless. She couldn't even think of a proper answer to that statement, so she settled for muttering several indecent insults at the Sue. Then...
"What does a woman know of these matters?" Boromir asked, looking at Aragorn. She lifted her eyebrow.
"Well, that woman certainly doesn't know anything," Talia quipped before turning to look at Halley, or the black and orange cat that was Halley, anyway. "She's turned Boromir into a chauvinistic pig, that goes on the list. We'll have to remember it as I can't write anything down now, obviously."
She jumped on the table, and stood over him. "What was that?"
"Where did that table come from?" Talia demanded. The Siamese cat glared icily at the Aragorn Sue.
"I smell a plot-hole!" Halley warbled cheerfully. Below them, the argument continued.
"You shouldn't have said that.." Legolas said, "Really shouldn't had said that."
Halley sighed. One word change and it would be a nice line from Disney. Inappropriate, but at least understandable. Thus, Legolas tried and failed to turn into Timon from The Lion King as he told the now priggish Boromir in teenaged terms that taunting the Sue was a bad idea. Of course, poor Boromir probably already knew that, but what could he do while under the influence of the Sue? The Sue, whom Halley stoutly refused to call "Aragorn," thought that hurting Boromir would be fun. Halley just shook her head. Too bad there wasn't some device made that could break the spell of Sues at points like these. Watching the Captain-General of Gondor take this snotty brat apart would be immensely entertaining.
Then, however, events took an odd turn. Well, an odder turn than most of the twists in this convoluted and crazed story. The fight of history started.
"They're arguing about how many men Gil-galad had serving under him. Can we go now?" Halley hissed questioningly to her partner.
"I think that..."
Talia trailed off as the whole council, fight and all, abruptly disappeared. Oh yes, she thought, another one of those wonderful jumps. This time it appeared that they had been far enough away from it to avoid getting caught in it. Talia was grateful for that, at least.
"The whole bloody council ruined," she lamented as she jumped out of the tree and landed lightly. At the bottom of the tree were the papers that Talia had been carrying earlier. She pawed through them carefully.
"The next bit is just idiotic... between Aragorn and Arwen, or Miss Mary Sue and Mister Marty Stu, actually," she commented. It was now dark, without any warning, but she found that she could see perfectly well with the starlight. Cat eyes were useful for things like that.
"Have you figured out why we got turned into huge felines?" she asked, glancing up to Halley.
"Actually, yes." Halley replied as she leapt down from her shredded perch. She poked a paw through the pile of stuff on the ground, hoping to find something useful.
"Remember the Lay of Lúthien Tinúviel? When Beren was captured by Melkor, he was forced to be a slave to Melkor's minions... giant cats," she explained.
Talia simply blinked at her for a moment before she remembered. Those cats had been more than a little creepy. Now that she was getting used to it, though, she didn't mind it so much.
"Oh, of all things... Well, killing Miss Sue won't be so hard, now will it?" She grinned, an expression that showed off a set of very sharp teeth quite nicely.
She continued her perusal through the pages, looking extraordinarily peeved, even for a cat.
"Boromir is so OOC. He's out there talking to the Sue now on her balcony. You know, I don't think it's Boromir at all. I'm not liking this Boromir/Aragorn-Sue thing that's developing either... bah!" she spat, a very feline-like gesture. "As if the insanity wasn't enough before. This just makes me sick." She looked up as the sun rose, amazingly quickly.
"Oh look, the Fellowship will be leaving soon," she announced in a bitingly cheerful tone before gathering up the papers and stuffing them awkwardly in her bag. She wasn't going to leave all her stuff behind.
"Drat drat drat..." Halley muttered to herself as she followed suit. Leaving stuff behind in the stories was expressly forbidden by the Flowers. Of course, she was pretty sure that showing up in a story as creatures that hadn't been seen in Middle-earth since the First Age might be a bit on the unlawful side as well. Above all, she wondered why the Sue didn't seem to need sleep. Suddenly, she paused in her mad attempt at stuffing.
"Heeeeyyyy... why don't we just portal ahead? We can arrive just in time for the most horrendous crossover speech of all time." She grinned in a Cheshire-cat manner, and batted the portal generator in Talia's direction.
"Good plan," Talia said. She bent over the portal generator and very carefully hit the appropriate buttons with one claw. The device made several beeping noises, and flashed, and then a whirling portal appeared in front of them.
"On with the insanity then," Talia commented. She then scooped the generator into her bag before grabbing the shoulder strap with her teeth, and bounded through the portal.
"Wait! That's mine, you catnip fiend!" Halley howled indignantly before snagging the strap of her own pack and barreling after her feline partner.
On the other side, she silently thanked whatever Vala that was responsible for the whole feline disguise, as the pitch-blackness of the forest they found themselves in would have been highly inconvenient if they had still been Rangers.
"Since when is there a forest between Rivendell and the Misty Mountains? Did I miss something?" she grumbled to herself as she looked around for the campsite. The Fellowship had to be around here somewhere...
"I just love these geographical changes. That goes on the list too... Ah, there they are." Talia picked up the sounds of the Fellowship nearby. She slunk forward closer until the small fire was visible through the trees. The Sue, of course, was being reclusive. Boromir was "telling a tale of long ago, and Gandalf was telling him when he was screwing it up," so said the words. Talia snorted quietly.
"Here it comes," Talia groaned as she paced forward a little more.
"I had a dream," the Sue announced hoarsely.
"That one day, all Sues would be slaughtered..." Halley finished, then sighed. "I really don't want to hear this." Sulking as only a cat can, she crouched in the shadows cast by the tall trees and covered her ears with her paws. Why the Sue had to go and torture Shakespeare as well, she'd never know. Even with her heavy paws over her ears, she could still hear the author's voice break into the story once more.
"You most certainly are not!" Halley howled in protest, but the voice continued on, oblivious.
"but it going to use one of my favorite quotes from Romeo and Juliet. I just reword it a little, but I think it fits, if you take it the way I need you too." The silence immediately following this rather inane announcement was deafening.
Talia groaned, also trying to drown out the sound of Legolas' voice, as fair and Elvish as it was, by putting her paws over her ears.
"Oh, yes, Queen Mab!" Legolas said, putting his arm over Pippin's shoulder on the opposite side of him. "She is the fairies' midwife, and is no bigger than an agate stone!" He passed in front of the fire, leaping into a story. "She rides over men noses as a lie asleep!..."
"Fairies!" Talia growled. "This is just..."
"This, hag, is the one who is there when maids are on their backs, and that presses them, and teaches them to bear things! Making them women of good carriage! This is she-"
Aragorn jumped up, and grabbed Legolas by the arm, "Peace, Peace, Fair Legolas. You speak of nothing!" She cried.
"No." Legolas said as the fire when out, "I speak of dreams."
"Okay, did Legolas just call Pippin a hag? And when did he have foresight like that?" Talia asked no one in particular. "Not that any sane person would catch that unless they had the misfortune to have read the rest of this... glick."
Halley looked horrified, and turned to her partner, her jaw hanging open in shock.
"What? A baby? No no no no no... I heard about the lactating Sue, I refuse to actually witness one. Can we kill her now?” she begged, flopping disconsolately on her side. Before she could get an answer, the scene shifted again. They were still in the camp, but the fire was going again, and suddenly a monstrous rock appeared.
"Wait just one minute. I thought this brat was a Ranger! If she's so world-wise, what is she doing making a fire on the top of the highest land formation within a hundred leagues?" she groused, staring upwards.
"We're not waiting nine months to kill her," Talia said with a grimace. "And if she's a Ranger, I'm a hobbit," she growled.
Boromir happened to come along, and yet another conversation between him and the Sue began. As usual, it was rather enlightening.
"Where are you?" Boromir called out, "I can't see anything."
"Just follow my voice dumb ass." Aragorn said, now somewhat testy. "What do you want anyways?"
"Oh, that's something Aragorn would have said, female or not," Talia grumbled sarcastically.
Halley's tail flicked from side to side as she watched Boromir turn from a human into a donkey and back again. "Sue-kabobs, Sue-she, Suep..." she began to mutter under her breath. So many ways to prepare Sue, so few times she could kill this particular one. Her rant was silenced by the ongoing conversation between the Sue and the creature that was stealing Boromir's place.
"Sam thought you be hungry, so the bugger sends me up here." Boromir said, tossing her what was before a piece of bread.
"What the hell was this?" She asked, looking at it, a little confused.
"Bread.I think. Hobbits eat some bloody weird stuff." Boromir said, as Aragorn took a bite. "They should become like us, eat sense able things."
Halley growled, a low rumble starting deep in her chest and working its way upward. The chit just insulted Sam's cooking. Besides, who would want to eat sentient food, anyway?
"I want to eat some un-sense able things," Talia said happily. "Like that Sue," she added helpfully.
"You are an idiot."
"Oh shut up."
There was there was a long pregnant paused. "Aragorn?"
Talia groaned. "Oh, make it stop. That is the most horrible foreshadowing I've seen in ages." Next, the Boromir-Stu, as Talia was beginning to think of him, wanted to know why the Sue "became a Ranger." Talia thudded her head against a convenient tree in frustration.
"Oh, let's think," Halley drawled sarcastically. "Could it have something to do with being Isildur's Heir? No?" she glared daggers at the pair atop the rock. "You want slightly misquoted Shakespeare? How 'bout this, brat... You crusty blotch of nature, you lump of foul deformity... you, Sue, are an idol of idiot-worshippers!" she spat, furious.
Her fury then was nothing compared to the rage that consumed her when she heard the Sue's reply.
"Two reasons, one it pisses off Elrond. Two, It's better than being a barmaid." She answered.
Halley was forced to bite her own tongue to keep from screeching her outrage to the skies. Those were her only choices in life, a barmaid or a Ranger? Of all the chauvinistic, block-headed, louse-brained, mealy-mouthed things to say...
Talia managed to drone out the conversation by muttering to herself. Exactly what she was muttering wasn't clear, and it was probably better that way. It finally seemed that the two were going to come to a truce, but then the Boromir, Stu, whatever, for no obvious reason, kissed the Sue.
"This is why Bad Slash got this one on accident," Talia noticed.
Then, the Sue noticed something moving over a nearby hill. She immediately identified it as one of the Nazgûl. Then the Sue and Boromir were running back through the trees, after another wonderful "jump."
"I hate this chapter," Talia stated with more than a little annoyance.
"I'm getting really tired of this..." Halley grumbled as she bolted after the fleeing Sue. She thanked the Valar once again as she ran — four feet made chasing Sues so much more easy. She was so intent on her list of complaints she nearly barreled into the Fellowship when the scene changed again. Skidding to a stop, she bolted up another tree, wanting to get a good view of the coming monstrosity. For some reason, the Fellowship was fighting the Nazgûl, even though that would be a rather stupid thing to do. Better yet, Gandalf and the hobbits were no where to be seen. Talia climbed up the tree after Halley, not wanting to get any closer to the crazy fight than they already were. She stopped about halfway, inevitably ending up where Halley's tail was hanging down in her face. She shook her head, ears flattened.
"What is going on?" she asked, torn between confusion and morbid amusement. The Aragorn-Sue was ordering Legolas to give her an arrow, and Boromir to give her his shield... What she was doing, no one seemed to know. Talia certainly could not figure out what was going on.
"Where are the hobbits?" she wondered.
"Gandalf took the hobbits up the mountains with Gimli covering them."
"Oh." Talia shook her head. Well, there was one of the few times that Gandalf and Gimli were ever mentioned. "I wish I could..." She was cut off as there was another jump, in which the Sue had apparently disappeared.
"No, wait! I wasn't done complaining about that scene yet!" Halley growled as the scene morphed once more. "Did you see that?" she asked Talia, furious. "She had the knife point from the Morgul blade that was in Frodo! What part of melted didn't she under—" Her arguments were abruptly cut off as the branch that she had been sitting on disappeared in the morph, sending her plummeting to the ground. It was then that she learned that the cat disguises had yet another added bonus. Instead of landing on her head, as she would in almost any other disguise, she twisted around semi-gracefully in the air and touched down on all fours. Of course, since the cat disguise was rather superficial, she did not have the good grace to act as if she had meant to do that.
"Trying to murder PPC assassins! Add that the list!" she caterwauled, her fur fluffed up to the point of looking like a gigantic pom-pom.
Talia laughed, despite how very annoyed she was getting with the Sue, at the sight of Halley looking so. It was a rather eerie sound coming from a huge Siamese cat. Talia had landed gracefully as well, though she had been forced to move quickly to get out of Halley's way. She yawned and stretched languidly.
"You just now figured that one out?" she asked. "She's been trying to kill us with these jumps all along."
She considered for a moment. "This whole chapter is a flashback sort of thing. Painful, but nothing extremely notable, I think. Basically, the Sue gets lost out here in the middle of nowhere. And... we'll be heading to 'Riverdell' in another jump in a moment."
Halley could tell Talia was itching to portal away again, but something in the Words caught her attention. She just had to see this.
"Wait wait... this is good. It'll just take a second... anyway, we've missed the first flashback, and we can leave before it starts up again, so we won't have to suffer through that. C'mon!" she called over her shoulder as she took off through the woods again. It took some searching, but eventually she found the Sue, half-unconscious and being supported by a tree. The Grateful Undead were singing somewhere in the background, which confused Halley. A quick look at the Words cleared up the matter:
"The sounds of the Nazgul were getting lower, and lower... a soft hum began to grow in her ears, and she suddenly felt at ease."
"Huh, they must have been practicing, they don't sound half bad. At least, they sound better than if the Sue were singing backup vocals," she muttered as she crept closer. The Sue was drifting off again, and Halley had no wish to get caught up in one of those flashbacks. The story had enough jumps in it, thank you very much. She was growing decidedly attached to her disguise... how else could she get within a foot of the Sue and not be heard? Finally, she got close enough to see what she had come for: The Mark of the Nazgul. For some reason, this mark alarmed the Sue enormously, even though she had made it up herself. It looked rather like someone had scribbled on her arm with a magic marker. Halley stifled a giggle.
Talia drifted up behind Halley and peered over at what had caused her so much amusement. She shook her head silently and batted at Halley's tail with one paw.
"She's asleep, but not for long," Talia commented quietly. "Are you happy now?"
Halley scooted back quickly before nodding to Talia.
"We had better high-tail it out of here, the Nazgûl are coming, and I don't think they like cats," she whispered, a bit anxiously. She had no wish to cross the Nazgûl — they were cool, they were undead, and they had already been trifled with enough in this story.
"C'mon, make a portal, get us out of here. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can kill her and stop being cats," she urged, then paused. "You know, we're also going to have to find the real Aragorn and Arwen... Boromir too... which means we'll have to kill all of their Sue-ish counterparts... good grief, the Flowers must hate us." She sighed.
"If we were smart, we probably would have let Alec take this one," Talia commented as she carefully picked out the portal generator and hit the appropriate buttons. As she looked up at the whirling portal that appearing in the thin air, she snorted.
"We had to take it, out of principle, though. Besides, once I saw this part, there was no way I was going to let anyone pry this one away from us," she said icily. She grabbed her things and went through the portal without another word.
Talia landed easily, now getting used to having four feet instead of two, and found herself staring at Elrond's twin sons standing not too far away.
Halley bounded down beside her partner a moment later, the portal snapping shut behind them. She looked as though someone had just offered her a soup-bowl full of cream.
"Yum, El-twins," she purred. She was an unashamed fan of the twin sons of Elrond, and while she was sad that the Sue had brought them into this mess as well, the eye-candy factor didn't hurt one bit. Then, she noted that something was wrong... very wrong.
"Look!" Cried Elrohir, looking at his twin, Elladan, "It's a letter from the fellowship!"
Halley frowned. How in the world was the Fellowship supposed to get a letter back to Rivendell? As if conjured up by her mental question, the author's voice returned.
Don't ask.. Cause I don't know either... it boomed, making Halley wince. She was about to offer her opinion about plotholes and controlling one's plot when the twins began speaking again.
Talia stared, quite happy just to watch the two for as long as the peace would last even with the insanity of a letter from the Fellowship, but then the dialogue got a little further along...
"What's it say?"
"That they made it to Lothlorien!" he said, "Of course, this is really hard to read." He tailing off. "See?"
"Elrohir.. you are holding it upside down.."
"She... made... them... stupid," Talia growled, a deep rumbling sound that was punctuated by angry tail-lashings that grew more threatening with each word. Talia was very fond of the twins, and therefore this was not making her happy at all.
Just then the Arwen-Stu came in and started being irate and generally evil to the twins over Aragorn's "disappearance."
"Can I kill this one now?" she asked quietly as she hunched down, her growling now quieter but no less furious, ears flat against her skull. She was quite ready to happily rip the Stu apart right here and now.
"I don't see why not... we do have three Sues to kill, you know," Halley hissed back as she glared at the Sue. Stu. Whatever. "Just be careful... until we kill all of them, canon won't go back to normal. The twins will think that creature is their sister... brother..." She groaned, and wished she had something hard to pound her head against. "Have I mentioned how much I hate this story?"
"If I kill him, the effect will be enough to snap them out of it for a while," Talia answered, still wanting very much to pounce on the elf.
"Fine, but he's not lasting much longer."
Talia huffed and watched the twins and the Stu head on out, for Lothlórien, so she presumed. "So what about that whole dream thing with the Sue? Where she meets a 'goddess'?" Talia groused, now in a decidedly foul mood. She didn't like to let that Stu go, even for a little while. "Then we get a song straight from Evanescence, and Galadriel goes on about some insanity about two glasses..."
Halley looked at the Words to confirm this.
"Ugh, a blatant Matrix rip-off, then the two cross-Sues get together... something I really don't need to see, my brain has been scarred enough, thank you. Lots of inappropriate language, general stupidity, and... oh brother." She sighed, wondering if the author thought foreshadowing was something one did with a blunt instrument in dark alleyways. "There was a very pregnant pause... we get the picture already!" she snapped, even though there wasn't a Sue directly present to snap at. She couldn't stand much more of this.
"Let's portal to the bit after Lothlórien... they don't do anything else there anyway, except prove that the Sue is most definitely not a Ranger," she suggested, wanting this job to be over with as quickly as possible. Even being a cat wasn't worth this.
"I agree." Talia checked through the Words a bit further as she pulled out the portal generator yet again. She was getting rather good at working with huge paws instead of hands.
"They get into those boats and head to Rohan. Of course, because you can ride on the river right into Rohan, right. Forget Amon Hen and all that other stuff." She was obviously sarcastic now. "Also, we learn that Miss Ranger hates boats. Then we have the Aragorn and Boromir scene." Talia winced. That was wrong on many different levels. "I'm not going for that one either. Canon is so warped at this point... Boromir isn't supposed to get to Rohan... Bah! I say let's go to Edoras. I don't know where the hobbits, Gandalf, and Gimli are, but I'm hoping that they're where they're supposed to be." The breach in canon was getting to be so bad that it was giving Talia a constant headache. She wanted to kill the Sues, and get everything back to normal, as quickly as possible.
The portal opened, a direct link to Edoras.
"We'll just take this one step at a time," Talia said through gritted teeth. "First off, we need to get rid of the ringleader."
Halley took the initiative and bounded through the portal first, the strap of her bag firmly secured between her teeth. She wasn't going anywhere without her bag, not in this mess. She had just a moment to appreciate what part of Edoras she could see that wasn't mangled by the Sue-field, before her newly acquired sharp hearing warned her of something approaching. Something approaching... from above.
"Sainted Sebubian on a pogo stick in Maui!" she howled as she sprinted for cover. She dove under a low rough-hewn deck, her ears flattened to the back of her skull and her pupils as wide as saucers. Once she settled herself into her new hiding place, she turned to see what had nearly fallen on her.
"Oh ewwwww..." She grimaced. The Sue was taking morning sickness to new levels of disgustingness.
Talia had backed up quickly to avoid the same mess Halley had missed. She stared for a moment with a blatantly disgusted look.
"Geez... you'd think she'd have some sort of sense not to be getting sick out a window like that," Talia said as she shot a glare up. "I suppose now she's up there talking with Legolas, who wants to know if the baby is Boromir's or Arwen's, I'd think." She shook her head. "I've had quite enough. When's the first moment we can get the Sue alone, and what's going to be the poison this time?" she asked bluntly.
Halley scanned the Words from the safety of her hiding spot... no way was she going out there with the Sue vomit. "Drat... she surrounds herself with drugged-up canon characters until she leaves Rohan... after that, there's only Brego to contend with for a bit," she reported. "Wasn't the prevailing theory during this time period that if you were pregnant, riding a horse could make you lose the baby?" she asked, confused. For someone who claimed to want the baby, even though she was scared of it, she certainly acted strangely. Halley shrugged, a full-body gesture that was distinctly feline. The Sue had acted strangely, pregnant or not.
"Well, I have had enough of this," Talia announced huffily as she took a few more steps back and pulled out the portal generator. "We almost got puked on here in Edoras, is that good enough? I don't think there are any other specific charges that we're going to get from standing around here. It's not like the list isn't five pages long or so already, anyway." She punched in something on the generator, with the sort of stubborn air that left hardly any room for argument. "I say we go introduce ourselves finally." She grinned as the portal opened again, just behind her.
"I second the motion, motion carries," Halley quipped from under the deck. She hung back, however. She had bounded through the portal first last time, and had nearly gotten slimed. Once burned, twice shy.
Talia nodded and turned to go through the portal, but paused to look back at her hesitant partner. She snorted. "Oh come on, as far as I know, Sue vomit is harmless," Talia informed Halley. It was unlikely, however, that she would have been so confident if she had been on the wrong side of that window. She picked up her bag and dragged it through the portal.
"Huh. As far as you know... is that like how I thought I had set the disguise generators to 'elf'?" Halley grumbled as she cautiously emerged from her hiding spot. From the window above, she could hear the Sue screeching about how no one understood her.
"Just you wait, Sue. I understand you perfectly," she growled at the open window, then charged through the portal. On the way through, she smacked into Talia, sending them both tumbling.
Talia's surprised growl was cut off as they both slipped through the portal. The ball of cream, grey, black and orange colored fur that was the two agents rolled out of the portal not five feet in front of Brego. Aragorn was going off to fight like the rest of the "men," of course.
The sudden arrival of Talia and Halley threw Brego into confusion. He whinnied, and before the Sue even had a chance to realize what was going on, he had reared up on his hind legs. This horse knew what orcs and wargs and men were, but these huge cats were something completely new, and they had appeared so suddenly besides.
Talia thrust herself away from the tangle with Halley as quickly as her feline reflexes could take her. "Move!" She screeched at Halley as she scrambled to get out from beneath Brego's shadow.
Halley bolted in the opposite direction of her partner, reacting to the situation without thinking. Brego, who now had gigantic cats on either side of him, threw an equine fit of panic. The Sue, since she wasn't much of a Ranger, and most definitely not much of a rider, quickly lost her seat and fell with a thump onto the hard-baked ground. Brego tore off after the other horses of his company, eager to get away from both the Sue and the cats. Halley saw her opportunity and pounced. Literally. She scooped up the Sue as a mother cat would a fractious kitten and deposited her at Talia's feet with a grimace.
"Foul foul foul! Since we seem to be movie-verse at the moment, I'm getting a drink of water from that stream down there. Don't let her scream." Halley warned before tearing off in search of water.
The Sue stared at Talia, still somewhat in a state of shock. Talia stared back coldly. She decided to speak before the Sue had a chance to.
"Well, I never was much of one for formal speeches, but..." Talia cleared her throat and glowered at the Sue, quite ready to pounce on her if she so much as thought about screaming. Luckily, the Sue was much too arrogant to scream for help.
"It is my duty to inform you that you have been charged with being a Mary Sue, first of all," she began with a deep breath.
"What? Am I dreaming or something?" the Sue asked. Talia glared and flicked her tail.
"You're interrupting me. As I was saying... you, or the author, whatever, you're both going to hear it, are charged with butchering capitalization, grammar, and the common spell checker. Also for the use of extreme wordiness and using stupid terms for 'said'. You are also charged with stealing lines directly from the movie, not naming Butterbur Barliman, despite saying that this is vaguely book-verse, having a woman strong enough to throw a full-grown hobbit around, displaying stupidity constantly..." She paused briefly, and then nodded. "That one especially. Let's see... changing geography, displaying extreme cruelty to hobbits, having canon character disappear with no explanation whatsoever, namely Bill..."
Talia stopped at that point and narrowed her eyes. "Is this list long enough for you? It's not nearly done yet. What I really want to talk to you about is Elrond," she growled. "Elrond is not a cross-dresser, and he has two sons, who are not idiots, and one daughter named Arwen. And a foster son named Aragorn, who is not you," Talia stated bluntly.
Halley came trotting back, licking water from her lips. "You forgot to add that Elrond did actually play an important role in the siege of Mordor at the end of the Second Age. Never mind that if he so desired, he could claim kingship over all the Noldor."
The Sue looked at her blankly.
"Noldorians? The Exiles?" she elaborated, but still got a stare. Frustrated, Halley swatted the impudent Sue with one heavy paw. "Read your Silmarillion, brat. Anyway..." she continued, ignoring the fact that the Sue now looked rather dazed. "There are a few more charges I'd like to add. Creating more minis than Miss Cam can deal with, namely Billbo, Valor, Riverdell, and Gilrean; use of chronological torture against assassins; slandering Pippin; having horrible taste in clothing, namely the pale green dress with red fasteners..." she paused and shuddered. "What were you thinking?" she asked rhetorically. "Slandering the cooking abilities of hobbits, namely Sam; abuse of the caps lock key; changing the physiological effects of Black Breath; changing the fate of Gilraen..." she paused to take a breath. Good grief, these charge lists got longer every mission.
The Sue took her pause as permission to leave and began to scoot away.
"Not done yet," Halley growled, and planted a heavy paw on the Sue's chest, her claws just barely extended. "Mucking around with the deities of Middle-earth; mangling perfectly good movie lines in what is supposedly a book-verse story; causing Legolas in particular to act like an uninformed idiot; and last but not least, extremely grossing out the assassins." She turned to Talia, still keeping the Sue pinned. "Is there anything else you'd like to add?"
"You insulted the twins," Talia said directly to the Sue, looking quite pleased with this list of charges, which was one of the longest she could ever remember seeing. She acted as if this statement clearly summed up everything that had been said so far.
"I say we feed her to the wargs," Talia suggested happily.
"That works for me. Whatdya say, Sue? Wanna play with the doggies?" Halley asked with the most evil smile ever seen on a feline on her face. The Sue known as Aragorn blanched.
"No! I am Aragorn, daughter of Arathorn! I am to marry my true love Arwen and be king of Gondor! You can't do this!" the Sue wailed miserably.
Halley swatted the Sue again impatiently. "For the last time, it's queen, not king. Females are queens, males are kings. If you were going to be king of Gondor, we wouldn't be here, now would we?" she snarled. Then very carefully, so as to transfer the least amount of Sue-taste to her mouth, she collared the Sue neatly.
"Murphk meh mophmoll," she ordered, looking expectantly at Talia.
" 'Murf muffle murf' to you too," Talia returned in a cheery tone as she opened up a portal. "I hope you don't mind... I took the liberty of opening a portal directly to Mordor. I would throw her right over there on the other side of the hill, but chances are some hapless Rider would rescue her. Can't have that."
"Well, ladies first!" she said and stepped aside out from in front of the window, gesturing with one paw for Halley to "help" the Sue through.
Halley dragged the Sue through, taking great joy in making sure the Sue hit every rock and briar patch along the way. Once in Mordor she dropped her irksome load at the edge of a high cliff, still careful to keep a paw on her prize, even though there really wasn't anywhere for the Sue to run. The Sue looked frightened, as she well might — there were fierce growls from down below.
"Are you hungry, little babies? Oh, yes you are!" Talia cooed down in the general direction of the wargs as she peered over the edge. This was very odd coming from a huge cat.
"The poor things are starving," she told Halley in a surprised tone as she looked up before grinning evilly at the Sue. "I would give you a chance for some last words, but... I'm ready to leave, and I just don't care. So... bon voyage!" Talia gave the Sue a good nudge, just enough to send her slipping off the cliff. It wouldn't take the wargs long to find her; in fact, they had been waiting for her to fall. Talia watched the Sue fall, wondering if she'd ever had this much fun before.
"Whoohoo!" Halley crowed as the wargs dove into their unlooked-for meal. "I give that dive a ten out of ten, especially with that exquisite scream on the way down." She pranced delightedly along the cliff edge for a moment, reveling in the partial restoration of canon. Then, abruptly, she stopped.
"I'm bored. Can we go now? This place... smells like dog," she complained. "Beside that, we still have two more Sues to catch.""Yes, yes, I guess we should do the Boromir-Stu next," Talia said, and she rummaged around for the portal generator, and set up a new portal for what seemed like the hundredth time in the last hour.
"There... we can get him before he gets to those wargs with the Rohirrim, I think," Talia said as the portal opened.
"What do you want to do with him? I almost feel sorry for him... almost."
Halley bounded through the portal, the harsh cries of orcs and wargs and men filling the air once she hit the other side. She wrinkled her nose delicately. It smelled like dogs here as well. Suddenly her eyes brightened. She had an idea."Oh fun," Talia commented as she spotted the mess of wargs and horses, and orcs and men. "Where is that idiot?" she asked as she peered around for the Stu.
"There he is," Halley replied, pointing out the second-rate stu who was pretending to be the Captain-General of Gondor. "I'd love to capture him and ask him what he did with the real Boromir... we saw him... well, no, heard him, at the beginning of this story. I'll bet you all of our missing canon characters are locked up in that 'Riverdell' somewhere," she spat. "If you want, I can just go kill him. No need for both of us to go down in that mess," she suggested, watching the riders deal with the orcs in their own efficient manner.
"No need for only one of us to accidentally get killed by getting trampled, or mistaken for wargs," Talia replied as she hunched down, getting ready to lunge. "Besides, I'm not letting you have all the fun for yourself." She grinned, only the very tip of her tail twitching as she waited for Halley to go.
Halley nodded. "All right then, just stay with me. We're gonna stage a little accident." She grinned, then slunk off through the grass. She had always enjoyed those nature documentaries about Africa... now was the time to put knowledge into use. They were able to get quite close to the mounted Boromir without alarming either the Stu or the poor horse he was riding. Halley felt a momentary pang of remorse for the upcoming death of the innocent animal, but she couldn't exactly politely ask the Stu to get off his horse before she knocked him over a cliff.
Talia padded quietly after Halley. She felt that they were terribly obvious in the grass, because of their size, but of course the canon wasn't going to notice them. They were sneaking up on the Stu, and that was the important thing.
The only ways to get canon characters, or in this case, animals, to notice you was to make a lot of noise, or get the Sue, or Stu in this case, to make a lot of noise. Halley settled for the former method.
"Hello poor horse-thing and Stu!" she hollered at the top of her lungs as she pounced on the Stu's horse from the side, driving the pair toward the cliff. The Stu never had a chance as the horse slipped on the loose soil at the cliff's edge and went tumbling over.
"Oh drat, didn't charge him! Hey, Stu! You are hereby charged with being a Marty Stu, with taking the place of a well-respected canon character, namely Boromir, of taking the well-respected canon character's name, namely Boromir, of being a blithering idiot, and of annoying me to tears!" she hollered after the falling Stu.
Halley had just barely gotten off those last words before there was a spectacular splash.
"Just like in the movie with Aragorn," Talia commented dryly. "But what if he's not dead?" She didn't think that the Stu would make it like Aragorn had done so, but one could never be too careful. She smirked. "It would be a shame if he wasn't dead, after all you got those charges off just in time."
The riders were ignoring them — with the Stu gone, they were more interested in the wargs that had no business being in Rohan. Halley considered this a great bonus, since attempting to outrun one of the Rohirrim on horseback did not strike her as a great way to spend the day.
"I think he's dead. Human heads don't normally turn that far..." Halley noted with some interest as she stared down into the ravine at the body that was floating away. The local carnivorous wildlife should enjoy that. "Now, on to the last Sue. Stu. Whatever. You want this one?" she asked, turning away from the cliff edge.
"Of course I do," Talia answered tartly as she trotted back down to where they had left their things. Canon was so much better with two of the three gone... but it wouldn't be quite right until they'd gotten all the kidnapped characters back in place.
"I suppose that the Stu will be in 'Riverdell'. Do you think it would be too much to rip him apart with my bare... claws?" Talia asked before going through the portal.
Halley shrugged as she leapt through after her partner. Once on the other side, she again had the feeling of being back in Headquarters — there were only so many variations on "endless halls." She shuddered. "Do you suddenly have the impulse to be overly polite to plants?" she asked the giant Siamese next to her.
"I hardly ever have sudden impulses to be overly polite to anyone," Talia pointed out as she returned Halley's gaze almost too serenely. She then tilted her head and listened intently for any signs of the Stu, or Elrond. Elrond, freed from the influence of the Aragorn-Sue, would be acting fairly normally, most likely, and Talia was never one to pass up an opportunity to see him. Still, the urge to murder the Stu mercilessly was also something to consider.
"Here little Stu," Talia said quietly. "I want to play... Where do you think he's wandered off to?" she asked Halley absently.
"I think..." A sudden, oddly manly, squealing attracted her attention and stopped her from offering her opinion on Stu-ish hiding places. She grinned, exposing long canines. "Methinks the Stu just found a new hairbrush..." She grinned cheerfully.
"She... I mean, he, did spend an entire chapter brushing the Sue's hair. He loves to brush hair, the Sue loved to throw hair brushes in her hissy-fits. Interesting," Talia commented as she trotted down the hall, heading towards the noise. She passed an elf carrying a couple of books, and stopped to get a better look. The elf, of course, took no notice of her at all. She sighed, obviously disappointed as to the identity of this one, and then continued along.
At the door to the room where the Stu seemed to be residing, Talia paused and sniffed, and glanced in cautiously, wondering if the Stu was alone.
Halley had no such compunction. She bulled her way in, pouncing on the Stu before he could turn and run. Her tail lashed in triumph as she sat on him, ignoring the odd wheezing sounds coming from the creature beneath her. "So, have you decided what we are going to do with him?" It was so much easier to remember the gender of this particular abomination when she was sitting on him.
"Gah, mine." Talia was close on Halley's heels. There were advantages to being such huge cats, after all. A full-grown elf just wasn't big enough to be able to push one of these kitties off.
The Stu was about to shout, or something like, but he was cut off by Talia's paw. He looked very angry, but Talia couldn't have cared less.
"Hmm, I would say that I would stick an arrow right between his eyes, but since I'm in no position to be shooting a bow..." She trailed off and pondered for a moment.
"Heeey, do you think that the Barrow-wights have had anyone to play with in a while?" Talia asked brightly.
Halley perked up considerably at this, and bounced a little on the balls of her feet, much to the dismay of the Stu. "Oh, that would be grand! Did you here that, Stu? We're going to take a little trip!" she informed the semi-stunned elf beneath her mockingly. The Stu wriggled and managed to pull his head free from Talia's heavy paw.
"What are you talking about? My name is not 'Stu', I am Arwen, son of Lord Elrond! Release me at once!" he cried in an alarmingly effeminate manner that made Halley wince.
Talia swatted the Stu in repayment for that comment. She did not use her claws, something she felt was an act of extreme mercy for such a detestable creature.
"Your name might be Arwen, but you are not a son of Lord Elrond Peredhel," she corrected him firmly, just barely keeping a growl out of her tone. "You are a Stu who has replaced Elrond's daughter. You abused the twins, Elrond's real sons, without even a halfway believable cause, and used your influence to make them painfully stupid. You are painfully stupid, and just wrong. I don't think that you're even an elf at all. I'm tempted to simply tell Elrond about some of those events in Lothlórien, those memories that I'll have to scrub my brain with acid to remove, and he would take care of our little problem, I'm sure." Talia grinned. "There you have it, I'm sure I could think of a few more charges, but the Barrow-downs await."
She left him to Halley while she went to go open up a portal.
"Yahoo! I love the Barrow-downs, they'd make a perfect place for a Halloween party... assuming the Flowers would ever let us have parties," Halley commented cheerfully. She looked down at the Stu with a malicious gleam in her eyes.
"I'm going to get up now, but if you run, I'm going to carry out Talia's threat and tell Lord Elrond about you before we take you to the wraiths. You know, he is quite the swordsman," she added offhandedly. The Stu gulped and nodded. Satisfied, but slightly disappointed that the Stu didn't put up more of a fight, Halley primly stepped off the Stu. She then picked him up in her teeth as if he were an errant kitten. She grimaced to herself as she dragged the Stu toward her partner. They all tasted so foul...
"Hm, yes," Talia said distractedly before hopping through the portal. One the other side, she was met with quite an impressive fog. It was quite chilly, and it wasn't just the temperature that made it so. The Barrow-downs were creepy, and with good reason. Talia glanced around, wondering exactly how one would call a Barrow-wight or two.
Halley and the Stu landed with a thump on the misty hillside. In disgust, she spat out the collar of his jacket. "How come I always end up carting around the Stu while you get to play with the electronics?" she complained while she stepped on the Stu to make sure he didn't try to run off. There was no need — the Stu looked rather stunned by this unexpected turn of events.
"Because you very rudely grabbed him before I had a chance," Talia said. She dropped her pack and went over to stand by the Stu.
The atmosphere was so lovely. Through the fog, one could almost imagine that they heard voices calling out through the mist. The wailing was probably the most unnerving.
"Oh look, here's some friends," Talia noticed happily. Three tall, black figures were walking their way. No, not walking, it was more like drifting. The air around them seemed to be even colder than anywhere else. The wights' interest was obviously gained by the elf. They barely noticed the cats.
The Stu had recovered from some of the shock, and was making a last attempt to scramble away, but Talia latched onto him with claws and teeth.
"Oh no you don't," she said, though it sounded more like "Murf muf fu murf." Her point was apparent enough, however. She dragged the Stu right up to the wights, ignoring their cold stares. They weren't even directed at her, but they were still not that much fun.
Mentally Halley reviewed the song that was supposed to bring Tom Bombadil... just in case. It never hurt to be too careful around wights.
"C'mon Talia, just give him to them, we should go..." Halley called nervously. "Yaahhh!" she yelped as something... dead... began wailing behind her. She didn't run, since running would probably lead to her being trapped in a barrow, and being the first cat to ever be killed by the wights. Her vivid imagination conjured up pictures of Egyptian mummy cats, and she wondered if a wight-captured cat would look anything like that.
Talia backed away hastily, leaving the Stu to the wights. He made a last attempt to escape, but it was too late. She pranced over to Halley, feeling entirely too happy, considering where they were.
"Aw, but I want to watch..." She looked back as the wights were dragging the Stu off towards one of the barrows. "Oh well, you're right. We've got the canon characters to find," Talia sighed. "Where on Middle-earth could they be?"
"Do you think we could have this conversation somewhere else?" Halley demanded, her hackles raised. Another eerie voice joined in the wailing, and she started, hissing in response.
"Oh, I suppose," Talia said idly. Truth be told, the wailing was starting to get to her a little too, but the idea of the Stu getting to stay here was still a very happy thought, indeed.
Talia opened a portal to Rivendell, and stepped back, knowing that Halley would want to go barreling through first. Talia was right, of course. A ginger and black colored blur appeared in Rivendell a moment later, which resolved into an exultant Halley.
"Oh, green grass! Blue sky! Lack of wailing!" she cheered, bouncing around like a kitten high on catnip.
"Plus one annoying furball," Talia added, but she couldn't muster enough sarcasm to make the comment really work. Instead, she sat down and looked around thoughtfully. She had to consciously stop herself from starting to wash, as cats did constantly. This feline thing was nice, but it was starting to get a little weird.
"So... canon characters... where do you think they are?" Talia asked again as she kept a sharp eye out for any elves that might happen to be nearby.
"Well, this would involve a long and torturous search, right?" she asked, then continued on without waiting for an answer. "It is simple then: they are in the last place we would look. It's always like that," she explained, as if this were the most self-evident conclusion one could make.
Talia's tail twitched as she thought about that.
"The last place I would ever look for anything is in the freezer, but I don't think that's really an option here. Where would we least expect to find an elf, a future king, and the Steward's favorite son?" She was silent as she thought about it.
"Barad-dûr," Talia said finally. "I'd never look there, but how would they end up there?"
"Sues regularly destroy the effects of geographical distances, don't they? This would simply be another example," Halley offered. "Does it really matter? Open a portal, let's go!" she exclaimed eagerly, the short respite on untainted ground making her eager to continue.
"Oh... wait... I left my pack back in the Stu's room... I couldn't carry both him and the pack, and I figured letting him go at that point would be a really bad idea. Be right back." She bolted towards Rivendell proper, which still looked like Headquarters, since the original canon characters had not been returned to their rightful places yet.
Talia shook her head and opened up the portal. Yet another portal, and this one straight to Mordor.
"I'll be glad when we get done," Talia yawned. "I feel as if we've been tracking over Middle-earth for months." She waited, more or less patiently, for Halley to come back so that they could get going.
Halley returned quickly, pack in mouth, since many years at the PPC Headquarters taught her nifty ways of getting through endless halls without spending eternity in them.
"Murf melf, mum..." She spat out her pack, then tried again. "See now, that didn't take long at all. Let's go! We just need to rescue these three, and we can go back. We can even drop them all in Rivendell, since the story starts around the time they would all be there... oh, wait. Aragorn needs to be dropped off at Bree, since the hobbits will need a guide. I don't think canon can pick up where the story left off, it's too far mangled," she noted before bounding through the new portal, her pack firmly between her teeth again.
"You're probably right." Talia nodded before following through the portal, careful to bring along her own pack. Not that she would have regretted having an excuse to come back to Rivendell once canon was restored. Chances were she would see Elrond...
The change from Rivendell to Barad-dûr was a startling one. Talia had to immediately step out of the way of a passing orc, which was in a hurry, and didn't at all notice the huge Siamese cat that landed almost directly in front of him.
"Now where?" Talia asked no one in particular as she watched the orc walk on by.
"Erm... the grog-house? You wouldn't expect to find an elvish lady type in a grog-house..." Halley suggested tentatively. Phew... sometimes, enhanced senses weren't all that great... especially where the sense of smell is concerned.
"You know where we would find one?" Talia asked. She turned and began walking down the hallway, towards what she thought might be the scent of something that wasn't orc. There were a lot of orcs, and they were terribly smelly things.
"Well..." Halley thought about this for a moment. "First, Sauron is evil, so he'd probably put it in the worst place, as far as the orcs are concerned. Now, what's the worst things that can happen to you when you're drunk? One, you have to use your balance... so somewhere up high? Second, if you show up for work drunk, your supervisor will make your life a living hell... heh, not that much different than it is here already. So... up high, near a watchtower," she concluded with a self-satisfied swish of her tail.
Talia blinked slowly. "Ah... right," she agreed simply.
It wasn't too hard to find some steps that led higher up the tower, to one of the watchtowers, hopefully. There were still a lot of orcs around, but none of them took any notice of the agents.
Halley bounded up the stairs two at a time, not wanting to spend any more time than necessary near the filthy orcs. Suddenly she skidded to a stop... or at least, she skidded, bounced up one wall in an attempt to stop her forward momentum, twisted in mid air, and trotted down a few steps before coming to a stop.
"Lookit! It's a hairbrush! I bet the Sue dropped it when she was hauling the canons up here!" she cheered happily.
Talia sniffed at the hairbrush, even more disgusted with it than she was at all of the orcs. "It reeks of Sueness, that's for certain," Talia declared as she started back up the steps. "They can't be too much farther up this way then," she sighed. "The canon is so abused... No wonder it's reverting back to before all this mess happened," she commented dryly. She thought that she could hear muffled sounds coming from up ahead, but it was hard to tell, even for a feline.
Halley nodded and bolted up the stairs... and directly into the plothole where the three missing canons were being kept. All three shied away from the massive cat, though Halley was interested to note that both Boromir and Aragorn moved in front of Arwen. So, chivalry wasn't dead... it was just living vicariously through fictional characters.
Talia skidded to a halt just beside Halley and stared at the three canon characters. They noticed them more than they should have, Talia noticed, but that was only to be expected. Nothing to worry about though... they'd be back to normal in no time.
"Rest easy, we're here to help you," Talia said quickly, not wishing to be attacked. "We're going to take you back to where you belong," she added slowly, hoping to reassure them a little. This was asking a lot, considering how the two agents looked at the moment.
"Oh, forget this," Halley muttered under her breath. Convincing three canon character that huge cats weren't going to hurt them could take the rest of the age. Since the canons seemed focused on Talia, Halley began carefully sifting through her partner's pack. Portal generator, portal generator... ah! Carefully she batted the generator out of the pack and stared at the buttons, making sure she knew exactly what she was pressing before she pressed it. The last time she had assumed she knew what she was doing hadn't ended up so well... of course, the cat thing was kind of growing on her, but she could tell her partner wasn't enjoying it.
The portal flickered to life, startling the canons further. Halley shook her head.
"Why does it always have to be hard? C'mere you," she muttered, pouncing on Boromir. While in her current guise, she outweighed Boromir by a goodly amount, so pinning the Captain-General proved to be no problem. The problem was that even when unarmed, Aragorn felt the need to come to his companion's rescue.
"Bloody... Talia, get him off me! Yeeowch!" she howled, shaking herself in an effort to get the wily Ranger off her back. Arwen, noble daughter of Elrond Peredhel that she was, joined in as well, hauling on one of her ears.
Talia decided to use her advantage of size to push Arwen away from Halley, making her let go of her grip on one ear, and as soon as she had accomplished that, she grabbed Aragorn's tunic in her teeth, and dragged him back.
"We're taking Boromir and Arwen first?" Talia asked, speaking as clearly as she could though she had a mouthful of cloth, and was trying to keep Aragorn between herself and Arwen.
"How about I take Boromir, you take Aragorn... Arwen should follow us," Halley suggested as she carefully picked up Boromir. The enraged Gondorian tried to twist free, much to Halley's dismay.
"Just 'old still, I'm tryin'... owww..." Halley growled as she laboriously dragged Boromir towards the portal. Finally, with one tremendous yank, both Boromir and Halley fell through the portal.
"Er... right." Talia did her best to keep a good grip on Aragorn. She just managed to grab her bag with one paw and drag it along after her as she made her way towards the portal.
"C'mon now, Arwen," she muttered through Aragorn's shirt. "Just follow me." She waited just long enough to make sure that she was really coming along after before she dragged the Ranger through.
Halley was waiting impatiently on the other side, sprawled on top of Boromir in an effort to keep him from running off and raising the alarm. Halley had no wish to have to run from an army of avenging Elven warriors. She looked rather odd, especially now that Rivendell had returned to its rightful state. Gigantic tortoiseshell kitties simply do not belong lounging in the valley of Imladris.
"You have the flashy-thingy, right?" Halley demanded as soon as she could see her partner.
"Of course." Talia glanced back to see that Arwen was there, and she searched through her pack quickly, trying to find the appropriate device without letting go of Aragorn. This was no easy task.
"Here it is!" Talia let go of Aragorn, and bounced back swiftly, getting well out of attack range before he had a chance to realize what had happened. She typed in the appropriate numbers on the device.
"You might want to get that portal ready. We still need to get Aragorn to Bree," she told Halley as she waited for her to get out of the way so that she could get all three of the abused canons alone.
"Right... and... erm... since the sunglasses won't exactly fit us now, make sure to close your eyes when you fire that thing..." Halley noted as she scooted behind Talia and began poking at the portal generator again. Within seconds, a new portal snapped into existence. "Ready!" she yowled, ready to leave.
"Not that I'd mind forgetting some of the stuff that I've seen recently," Talia grumbled, but once Halley was out of the way, she closed her eyes and hit the button. She did wonder how the device would affect a cat... probably the same way it did anyone else, she decided.
When Talia opened her eyes, the canon characters were blinking and looking generally confused. Talia wasted no time in carefully nudging Aragorn through the newly created portal, making sure that he had gone all the way through. As soon as that portal closed, she watched the still confused Arwen and Boromir while Halley opened up another portal, back to HQ. As soon as this new portal opened, she wasted no time in heading through it.
Halley followed closely on her heels, not wanting to still be around when the trio sorted themselves out. She soared through the portal... then halfway through noticed she had hands. And booted feet. And a complete lack of feline grace. With a yelp of surprise and terror she sailed through the response center and crashed into the opposite wall, landing in a tangled heap of assassin, pack, and Farmir's flame-retardant blanket.
Talia just managed to avoid Halley's predicament, by having a little more natural balance, and a little more luck. Besides, her pack was still anchored firmly on one foot, which kept her from barreling forward, but it did nearly trip her. After regaining balance, she stood and blinked at Halley.
"Didn't break anything, did you?" she asked blandly, hoping that she wouldn't be dragging her partner down to Medical today.
Celborn sniffed at Talia and then sneezed. He then walked over to give Halley a long solemn look.
"Just my pride," Halley grumbled as she sorted herself out. She was just about to find something to feed to Celborn when the console decided to make its presence known.
Talia nodded. She didn't even have time to be grateful to be back to normal before the computer started with its whining. She had to restrain herself to keep from doing something very destructive to the thing. Instead she stalked over very angrily to hit a button on it, and see what it wanted.
"The SO wants to see us," she stated flatly, too tired and generally aggravated to sound surprised. At least, she thought, their job had been a little easier since the author had neglected to write much about the hobbits, Gandalf, and several other characters.
Talia dropped her bag down in front of the computer and gave it an icy glare before turning and heading for the door. "Could we stop at the cafeteria on the way there? They might be serving catni... I mean, chocolate," Halley called to her departing partner as she followed along behind, her pack left in a scattered mess on the floor. The door hissed shut behind the pair, and all was peaceful in that little-known corner of the galaxy once more.
[A/N - Halley (when asked for comment) - Erm. All hail, the sue is dead?]
[A/N - Talia - Yes, Halley is being very talkative today. Yech, this fic was just horrid. It was an AU fic gone bad in so many different ways that we couldn’t figure out what was worst about it. And it was so long! Thirteen chapters, and every one of them as painful as the next. It took us a while to finish it, but we did it! Yay! *Celborn throws confetti*]