1.Welcome to the PPC!
2.Expanding that Acronym
3.History of the Protectors
4.Be Mad, it Helps
5.Placement and Training

1. Welcome to the PPC!

Remarks from the Board of Flowers

Welcome, welcome! If you are reading this page, then you are either a new recruit (in which case you need it), a seasoned Agent (in which case you still need it), a Flower (in which case you need to know what’s in it), or unauthorised (in which case some nice persons in black uniforms will be around to confiscate it). In any case, you should either be reading carefully, or waiting for their arrival. We would prefer it to be the former, and as this is designed for new recruits, we will address this opening to them.

We are very, very glad you have decided to join the noble ranks of the Canon Protection Initiative. We cannot describe how glad. The PPC will be greatly enriched by your presence, whatever your chosen Department, and we hope that you will enjoy your time with us for as long as possible before going insane. If you are already insane, you should take this opportunity to visit the Department of Fictional Psychology for examination.

It is to be hoped that you have already had your role in the PPC explained to you, but if not, this Manual is the place to be! If you have any problems understanding it, please ask your partner (see Volume 2, Chapter 5) or Head of Department (see Volume 3). Alternately, you may inquire of any Agent you can find, although it is inadvisable to do so if they are wielding a flamethrower.

We hope that by reading this volume, your knowledge of our Organisation will be increased, and your life expectancy will thereby be increased. Increased life expectancies for Agents are appreciated all round (except by those who don’t count, like badfic authors). However, no guarantees are offered. The guarantees offered in the First Edition are no longer valid – if you die as a result of the advice in these volumes, your money will not be refunded. Of course, as far as we are aware, no one is paying money for this Manual anyway.

2. Expanding that Acronym

Who we are and what we do

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3. History of the Protectors

From the first Agents to the present

The Protectors of the Plot Continuum have a long and noble history. The first “Agents” of any description were Flowers, back in the days when the PPC had only just been renamed from the Organisation. In those days, none of the familiar technology was available except the portals, at that time still generated by room-sized machines, and missions were a very different affair. ’Sues and their ilk were still a danger, due to their ability to create plotholes – which the Sunflower Official deemed a threat to stability when contrasted with the controlled plotholes of the PPC portals – but were dealt with in a more direct manner: when a ’Sue was suspected to be present, the planet was destroyed by judicious use of portals.

The first non-Flower in the PPC was Makes-Things of the Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology (not then so named). He developed much of the technology now in use – the CADs, the wall-sized Consoles housing portal generators, the disguise generators and so forth – but was sadly disappointed by how little they were used. We Flowers have never enjoyed leaving HQ save to reach our home planet (now long destroyed), and the wholesale destruction of ’Sue-infested environments continued.

Then the first Agents appeared, a pair of human girls dropped into Makes-Things’ laboratory by a misfiring portal. They were sent to deal with a Mary-Sue (at their own insistence), and after the resounding success of their first mission, new Agents were recruited at an exponential rate from whatever intelligent species’ were encountered. The hitherto completely informal organisation of HQ was reordered into the Departments and Divisions we know today, although the number was far less.

Originally there were four Departments – Mary-Sues, Implausible Crossovers, Admin and Technology. While the first two are familiar, the Admin Department covered all the functions of the current Admin section, along with some of the Infrastructure – Finance, Catering and so forth. Technology dealt with the remainder of the Infrastructure Departments, including the current DoSAT, DoDAEG and A/V.

As the number of Agents and missions continued to increase, new Departments were added to the roster. The Department of Intelligence was founded to keep the Agents in their primary role of dealing with the stories (as opposed to investigating), and the Department of Bad Slash was initiated after a trio of Assassins – at that time, all missions were in trios – encountered a particularly bad Kirk/Spock fanfiction.

Next came Despatch. This was an offshoot of Implausible Crossovers, dedicated to dealing with Canon characters abducted into the “real” world (defined primarily as the one from which the majority of agents are recruited – it has its ’Sues just as everywhere else does, although most of them are written by its own inhabitants).

It is at about this time that Agents’ Lust Objects began to be recorded, after an incident in which an incensed Assassin was cut down by phaser fire while lunging at a Mary-Sue. Also, as the number of Departments and Agents continued to expand – with Admin and Technology dividing up and specialising – Intelligence began to deal with some of the lesser Canons. Here they encountered the horror that is comic book continuity, and were forced to admit that in some cases there wasn’t enough of a coherent “canon” to allow a charge list to be composed. This problem has only been exaggerated by the trend in comic-book movies, and Intelligence has, in general, thrown up its hands and given fanwriters free reign. Some few dedicated Agents continue to monitor the continua to this day, searching for signs of coherency, but they are widely regarded as insane.

So things continued, with more specialisation occurring, for the next few years. At that point, an entity known to history only as the Mysterious Somebody found his way into HQ. He seems to have been found in a Canon world by a pair of Agents – staffing restrictions now having reduced the size of a team from three to two – and brought back as a potential recruit. Unfortunately, the Agents in question died in insanity shortly afterwards, so no-one was able to identify him.

At that time, there was a major outbreak of insane Agents in HQ, with even a few Flowers succumbing. The Sunflower Official, then head of the entire PPC, was forced to rearrange the entire structure of the organisation. He instituted the posts of Deputies for Action and Infrastructure – the first time the two sections had been so named – and gave them to the Evermind (Head of Finance) and the Poppy (Head of the Department of Mary-Sues). The latter, sadly, only held the position for three days before being incinerated by an Assassin convinced that his red petals were an effort to summon ’Sues into HQ (so far as we have been able to ascertain this was not, in fact, the case).

In desperation, the SO took control of the DMS, and the Deputy for Action post, himself. To run the PPC, he sought for a capable and willing Flower, but could find none. Turning instead to the Agents, he picked the one who had kept his head all through the crisis, the one who had tried the hardest – harder than most of the Flowers – to protect his fellow Agents. The Mysterious Somebody was promoted to Head of the PPC.

Another set of reforms were instigated almost immediately. The Department of Internal Security was created and used to quell the continued tide of insanity. Several Department Heads were fired and replaced over what were labelled “cruel and unusual practices.” The MS sequestered himself in his new office, communicating with others only through his secretary, the Nightshade. PPC Bioengineering Inc. was set up, purportedly to find profitable applications of unique life forms brought back from Canon world – the use of athelas derivatives in medicines on Earth has been considerable ever since – but it has since been discovered that it had a second, more sinister purpose.

This is what many regard as the Golden Age of the PPC. Bioengineering Inc. and other interests were bringing in large profits, allowing high salaries and frequent holidays for Agents. The DIS kept trouble to a minimum, while the Deputies and Heads ran things for the MS with remarkable efficiency. The massive increase in missions that came about with the advent of Orlando Bloom was still far in the future, and things were, as far as the Agents were concerned, perfect.

All that came crashing down when Agents Blue and Tango discovered the Factory, a PPC-run facility dedicated to the creation of Mary-Sues. Events began to speed up. The Evermind, planning to reveal the existence of the Factory to the PPC at large, was killed. The DIS instigated a reign of terror, and the black cat on silver became feared throughout the PPC. Many Agents were killed by the knives of their supposed guards. Things had to change.

The true nature of the Mysterious Somebody was revealed to the Sunflower Official, who reversed his earlier decision and ousted the MS. Several Flowers went into exile with their master, including the Bindweed, Head of Finance and Deputy for Infrastructure. The SO assumed direct control of the PPC once more, dissolving the roles of the Deputies. The DIS, however, remained in existence.

The SO found himself in direct confrontation with the Bracket Fungus of the DIS. Although no-one wished it so, the halls of HQ were embroiled in a civil war, DMS against DIS, Assassins versus Guards. This conflict is remembered by the Tomb of the Unknown PPC Agent, which occupies the entire space where DIS Central once stood, and covers the unmarked graves of many of their victims.

The Assassins and the SO were victorious. The remains of the DIS fled HQ, and the Sunflower Official set his mind to reorganising the PPC once again. In place of all previous administrative efforts he set up the Board of Department Heads. He also ordered all sources of ’Sue-related funding shut down. This was in 1999 AD (Earth Time), as near as can be determined.

Thus the PPC reached its current state. The low funds are a direct result of the Reorganisation, while the high mission density is primarily down to the release of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter books. While it is not, of course, essential for new Agents to know any of this, it may help to understand why suggesting that the PPC needs tighter security or a strong leader is not an opinion that will make you popular among the veterans. When the veterans are seasoned Assassins, getting on their bad side is a mistake many only make once.

4. Be Mad, it Helps

The mental state of Agents and why it exists

PPC Agents are insane. This is a fact of existence, and one which caused the Department of Psychology much grief until they altered their charter, changed their name to the Department of Fictional Psychology, and washed their hands of the whole sorry mess. However, the lunacy remained, with manifestations that range from talking to oneself in the corridor, through paranoid delusions concerning Mary-Sues (which must be distinguished from reasonable fears concerning ’Sues – they’re a tricky species), to the full-blown madness of running through corridors with flamethrowers, enjoying cafeteria food, and asking for more missions. In general, however, Agents fall at the lower end of the spectrum, and are fairly harmless (unless you happen to have pink hair – it’s a common trigger).

In the distant past, relatively few of the Agents were crazy. Then came the outbreak of insanity described in the preceding section, in which the Poppy was killed. Despite the fact that the epidemic died down within a few weeks, the ambient level of nuttiness rose steadily from that point on. While some (usually fairly bonkers) Agents have claimed that the Mysterious Somebody implanted “an aura of pure insane within the walls, the very walls!”, this hypothesis remains unconfirmed. Far more likely is the idea that the ever-increasing pressure of missions, combined with the financial collapse of the events associated with the DIS defection, have simply been driving all the Agents barmy.

5. Placement and Training

Yes, in that order

So, now you’re a member of the PPC. What happens next?

According to an old, slightly foxed and very charred copy of the PPC Manual, “Upon acceptance to the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, the new recruit is subjected to a battery of mental and physical tests in order to judge their abilities. According to their aptitudes, they are then assigned to one of the Departments, whereupon they are submitted to a training regimen designed to hone their skills to peak efficiency.”

It goes on like this for quite some time, listing the individual Departments’ responsibilities, the hierarchy of the Flowers, and other such bureaucratic minutia that tends to accumulate around any organisation. Of course, this dates back to the time when there were only a handful of Departments and Agents were respectably paid. The formal “training regimens” are now regarded as peculiar myth, much like the “old days” when people were polite, things were done right, and kids were well-behaved. In fact, new members are now placed almost immediately with a Department and partner, according to the recommendations of their recruiters and/or their interest. Whether you have joined of your own volition or been recruited, you may be expected to possess certain traits that will enable you to survive and be a productive member of the PPC. These traits include include fast reflexes, encyclopedic knowledge of Canon, a finely-honed sense of rage and a mild-to-moderate case of insanity.

Agents recruited from fanfic (e.g. reformed ’Sues, bit characters, etc.) or from technology-sparse worlds may be placed in the Department of Fictional Psychology for socialisation before being assigned a Department and partner. Strictly speaking, all placement is handled through the Department of Personnel, whether they were responsible for your recruitment or not. In practise, though, the need for new Agents is so great that recruits are sometimes placed outside the official process. This often leads to confusion of the type which leads to situations of Narrative Comedy. If you have not met the Marquis de Sod (DoP Head), it is advised that you get yourself to his office at your earliest convenience. This means right now. We don’t know where you got this copy of the Manual, but put it down and go before something bad happens.

Training procedures in the PPC today are best described as Darwinian. Theoretically, recruits get a crash course in weapons, tracking, operating the Remote Activator, neuralyzer and other devices, stealth, sarcasm, writing charge lists, and running for one’s life. In reality, this all happens at the hands of your new partner (see Volume 2, Chapter 5), who will probably use the standard method for communicating with beings of lesser intelligence, which is to speak LOUD-ER AND SLOW-ER. If you wish to survive, you will listen. The First Mission is a recruit’s first, last, and only exam. If you live, you pass. The PPC believes in testing to destruction, and while this does have the unfortunate side effect of occasionally breaking things, it is a most efficient way to train an Agent. Recruits gain Agent status when they have lost whatever shiny optimism and naiveté they may have had when they first joined.