Interlude A. On Sulphuric Acid and Mary-Sues

(08/20/2008, sometime between Missions 3 and 4)

Agent Samuel was beginning to be concerned.

Not alarmed: concerned. But concerned with a very good cause.

He had been sitting in the tiny bedroom that adjoined to the tiny Response Center Phi, minding his own business and attempting to make his way through The Fellowship of the Ring. 'Attempting' was the key word in that sentence, as he had been interrupted no less than six times in the previous hour. Five of those had been by his partner, Agent Katrina, who had acquired large amounts of caffeine and was thus dangerously energetic.

The sixth interruption had been the resident ypur, Micah, demanding to be fed. Samuel had tossed him a sausage, and the blue yak-like creature had settled down in a corner, happily munching.

Samuel had looked up from reading of Bilbo's departure at precisely the right time to see a short young woman in a PPC uniform drag a wriggling, heavily duct-taped 'Sue past his line of sight. He had continued watching, with the sort of dreadful fascination of someone encountering Legendary Badfic for the first time, and had observed Kat going back the other way, and returning with a large and thankfully sealed flask, ostentatiously labeled 'Concentrated Sulphuric Acid.'

"Oh, dear. That could be trouble," Samuel murmured quietly, demonstrating once again his gift for understatement. He marked his page and set the book aside, inwardly sighing; the gods only knew when he'd have the time to pick it up again. That done, he made his way into the other room, leaning against the doorframe and crossing his arms as he watched.

Kat had opened the flask, and appeared to be preparing to pour the acid over the hapless 'Sue, when her partner's voice broke her concentration. "May I ask exactly what you are doing?"

The blonde flinched, and turned to face Samuel. "Eru, Martel, and Ra!" she cursed. "Would it kill you to make some noise?"

"I do. You never listen." Samuel glanced pointedly at the flask, then the 'Sue.

"Oh, this?" Kat was gradually becoming proficient at deciphering Samuel's physical cues. "I was talking with Sedri... and I think Arti might have been there too... and the conversation somehow came to our favorite types of acid. And Sedri was talking about hydrochloric, though what's-his-name went completely off the board with basilisk venom or something, I mean come on that's not even a real acid, it's a poison, but the point is that I thought of sulphuric acid, 'cause I had a chem teacher once who showed us what happened when you pour sulphuric acid over sugar, and it's really nifty, and so I brought that up, and one thing lead to another and that got us wondering if, since a lot of 'Sues are so sweet, a similar reaction might occur."

Samuel pinched the bridge of his nose briefly. "Periods, Katrina. They give you time to take a breath."

"Aw, whoever said we have to talk in perfect grammar, too?" Kat wrinkled her nose at the thought, setting the flask down on the console beside her. "I mean, if you think about it, a lot of people these days don't even pronounce the 'g' on the end of present-tense verbs and the like, but you rarely see that written out unless the person has a noticeable accent. And I know there's a lot of words with three or four syllables that usually get slurred to two or so, though none come to mind at the moment, but those never get written out either, so what's the point of perfect grammar in speech?"

"Sounding intelligent?" Samuel asked dryly, arching one eyebrow. "By the way, a nice attempt to take us to the river, but let's return. Sulphuric acid and sucrose. I am familiar with the reaction; must you experiment in here? Where we practically live?"

By this time, the mostly-ignored 'Sue had worked out how to move, even as trapped in duct tape as she was, and had made it nearly halfway to the door. Upon noticing this, Kat leapt on the delicately beautiful woman with a gleeful cry and smacked her head against the floor a few times.

The 'Sue subsided. Kat, still astride the 'Sue, glanced up at Samuel and grinned. "I'll drag her into the hall, then. Wanna watch?"

"I suppose." Samuel pushed off the wall and followed Kat as she dragged the 'Sue out into the hall. He snagged the forgotten flask as he went, and offered it to Kat when she cast about frantically.

"Thanks." Kat took the flask, and Samuel noticed that she had actually thought to take some safety precautions, and was wearing gloves. "Now, let's see... where are we?"

"Not close to home." Samuel glanced up and down the hall. "Not a door in sight; ours must have decided to go wandering. I'd say it wants no part in what you're doing."

"Oh, excellent. No way this could possibly be blamed on us now." Kat glanced both ways, checking for passersby, and, upon seeing none, unceremoniously upended the flask over the 'Sue, making sure no spot went untouched. Then she stood back, and waited.

First came the screaming, as acid began to munch on flesh; next came the Glitter. As the acid made contact with the Glitter, the sparkling substance began to blacken and smoke slightly. When the greater portion of the 'Sue had turned black, however, the mixture of acid and Glitter began to grow.

A lot.

Kat and Samuel took several large steps back from the vaguely 'Sue-shaped mass of black goo that was at least three times the size of its original. "Well, that's large," Kat said brightly. "I'm just glad it's not sentient."

Samuel flinched. Kat did not yet have the instinct for avoiding the attention of the Ironic Overpower.

Sure enough, the mass of goo bubbled menacingly, and began to ooze toward them.

"Oops." Kat winced. "I've really got to watch out for that, don't I? At least it's—"

Samuel clapped a hand hastily over her mouth. "Don't finish that sentence."

Eyes wide, Kat nodded.

The Agents took another several steps back, watching the goo ooze toward them. "Know anyone who owns a flamethrower?" Samuel asked at length.


"Find them. Now."

Kat took off down the hall, away from the goo. Flamethrower. Right.

Hopefully before Samuel ceased to exist.

The Conclusions

1. Glitter is close enough to sugar that it produces an interesting reaction with sulphuric acid.

2. It may be advisable to kill the 'Sue before even thinking about applying sulphuric acid.

3. However, the mixture of Glitter and sulphuric acid can be killed with fire.

4. Katrina is not allowed sulphuric acid.