The halls echoed and re-echoed as two discordant voices, one a hoarse tenor and the other a raspy baritone, sang as loudly as humanly possible. It should be noted that hitting actual notes was strictly optional. Alcohol had apparently been consumed, as well as a hefty dose of Bleeprin, and both agents in question were singing the greatest hits of 3 Doors Down at the tops of their lungs.
One was a tall bronze-skinned man with iron-gray hair, severe facial scarring, and a nose that had been broken four or five times. His partner, who was significantly shorter than him, appeared to hold her drink about as well as the Watcher in the Water—a creature which after two martinis could be counted on to ramble about "little ratty human small things" and get his tentacles into knots. The girl had choppily-cut brown hair and a badly-fitting black jumpsuit covered with Invader Zim iron-on patches.
"Hif I go crazy, 'n willya still call me Superman—" Diocletian warbled, punctuating her words with another swallow of her beer. Suicide, the more experienced drinker of the pair, had just finished a bottle of vodka and was having issues with the concept of 'vertical.'
"If I'm aliveanwell, will you bedere, holdin' m'hand—" He joined in, reeling only slightly (compared to Diocletian, anyway, who appeared to be suffering from the Jelly-Legs Jinx) as he completed the line of the well-known pop hit. "I'll keep yoo bymyside wit maaah superhuman might—"
"KRYPTONITE! Yeah, yeah, yeah, kryptonite!" The intoxicated pair concluded triumphantly, and then collapsed on each other against the wall. Diocletian landed hard on her partner's chest, but Suicide had reached the "happy drunk" stage a long time before she had and barely noticed. He was now singing a famous and very impolite song about a hedgehog, with certain alterations.
"Y'might bugger that rotter named Harry James Potter / though some people'd rather he bugger his father / you might see the smut in those four on the grass / but you bugger a character, we'll kick your ass!" And with that triumphant conclusion, he fell asleep on the cheap tan carpet. Diocletian had passed out around the word 'father,' and was snoring like an elephant with sinusitis when the console broke their mood by emitting a loud [BEEP!]
This failed to grab their attention, so the console turned up the volume a few notches. [BEEEEEEEP!] it insisted, but the soused agents didn't hear it.
[BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!] the console finally snapped, extra exclamation points be damned, yet it failed to stir Suicide or Diocletian. Muttering something very extra-unprintable to itself, the console turned up its volume a few more notches and changed tactics.
[GET THE BEEEEEP UP, YOU BEEEEEEEPING BEEEPERS!]
That had an effect. Suicide lurched awake and dumped the snoring Diocletian off of his chest, clambering to his feet and staggering over the console on shaky legs. "Whassup?" He slurred, staring blurry-eyed at the readout.
Then he groaned, downed the rest of his vodka in one gulp, and bashed his head against the console numerous times.
"Purple Stuff . . . need Purple Stuff . . . " the smashed Scythian muttered, dragging himself to the equipment lockers and tearing through their small metal medicine cabinet. Bleeprin, Bleepamine, Bleepka, Bleepto-dismal, Bleeprofen, Bleepdol, and three months' supply of Logicillin went flying. He finally unearthed a small purple bottle at the back of the cabinet labeled WARNING! FOR EXTREME INTOXICATION ONLY! YOU WILL NOT GET REFILLS! "Downa hatch," he said hoarsely, taking a swallow of the thick violet liquid within. The muzziness was wiped from his brain, the vague headache vanished, and Suicide found himself suddenly much more clearheaded and balanced.
Unfortunately. As he stared at the console, the following thoughts shot through his mind in quick succession:
Actually, it seemed that she did.
After forcibly hauling Diocletian upright and pouring a draught of Purple Stuff down her gullet, Suicide promptly dropped his semiconscious partner onto a chair to recover her wits and returned to the equipment cabinets. "Pain," he whispered feverishly, digging through the various sharp 'n' pointy instruments of death that were found therein. A very disgruntled Thiranduil (who had been napping on the hibachi) found himself bowled over onto the rug, where he scorched quite a bit of the nylon fiber in his pouting.
"Su, what the hell—" the now-sober Dio began, but she stopped short when she saw the first lines of the fic. "Oh, no," she said. "Not—"
"Narnia," Suicide hissed.
"Narnia. Oh, dear Eru, she's read the books. She knows the history, she knows the chronology, she knows about Caspian," Dio groaned, skimming through the fic. "She—flaming Denethor!"
"My thoughts exactly. She burns."
"No, she doesn't burn. She dies very, very, slowly, with a maximum of wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Suicide finished stuffing his equipment into his bag. He was leaving his distinctive darning needles behind; instead, what looked like a very big, very powerful Orcish crossbow was protruding from the rucksack, and he had a full complement of barbed throwing knives. Dio had forgone her usual morning star in favor of a standard Mongolian shortbow, with a heavy lead ring protecting the thumb she used to draw it back. In short, both agents were extraordinarily angry, and as such not given to imposing anything like mercy or forgiveness. It was unusual for Suicide and Diocletian to be insane at the same time; usually one was completely unhinged while the other tried to calm them down. But this was Narnia, and the honor of King Caspian, at stake. And a Sue was besmirching the Land of Aslan.
"Telmarines?" Suicide said, jabbing at the console viciously. "She spends the whole time in Telmar and Cair Paravel. We'll have to change when we get to the castle, though."
"Is that before or after the Dwarf-attempted-rape?"
"Let's be something that can kill her."
"Anything with hands can kill her, Dio. Be specific."
"Centaurs? Dragons? Random humans?"
"Just something that can stomp is fine by me. Let's go."
The portal shimmered open and two very, very angry PPC agents leapt through. Behind them, Thiranduil wiggled his tail in anticipation. Just him and the sentient microwave for company. Oh, the fun they would have.
* * *
The two agents landed in the castle of Cair Paravel. They were dressed in identical chainmail shirts and leggings, with blue tunics, close-fitting helms, and round shields. Diocletian blinked. She was a man.
"Quiet!" her partner hissed.
The voice of the Author thundered down on the frozen scene.
Prologue and Chapter One
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters that C.S. Lewis wrote himself and put into his Narnia books, including Caspian X and so on and so forth.
"Oh, lordy lordy, she's read the books and knows how to write a proper disclaimer," Diocletian said to herself. "This is gonna be baaaaad."
Diocletian seemed to have retained her Sueish powers of prophecy; as the disclaimer thundered past and the voice of the Author died away, Caspian the Tenth, King of Narnia, and his wife zapped into existence in front of them. Caspian was posed in a very unlikely manner, one fist raised, an angry scowled twisting his handsome features. Despite her new gender, Diocletian found herself sighing. He's so OOC, but so handsome . . .
His wife, the daughter of the Star, was also angry; her face was streaked with tears, and she appeared to be shouting at her husband. The last echoes of Author dissipated, and the two instantly snapped into motion. Caspian and his wife were in the middle of an argument.
"Woman, if you don't bear me a child soon-"
“You conceited oaf! You think I owe you something. Do not forget who I am!”
“A whore that runs about like a bitch in heat!”
The two agents winced simultaneously as a screech rent the air. Diocletian jumped and dropped her pack, dumping the Canon Analysis Device onto the shadowy tiles of the elegant Undefined Palace Floor. The tiny computer fizzled and died, its readout barely managing to blink COMPLETE CANON RUPTURE before melting into a pool of liquid plastic. Both PPCers stared in shock.
"Complete canon rupture in three lines?" Suicide said, aghast.
"And look," Diocletian moaned. "They're so far out of it that they didn't even notice us."
"Got it." His partner flashed a notebook at him; "Completely a-sf-----g canon" was scribbled across it in an untidy scrawl.
Suicide shrugged. "I don't think that one's on the official charge list."
"There wasn't a Character Rupture bad enough to qualify making Caspian an abusive bastard," Diocletian ground out. She pulled a bar of Hershey's out of her pocket and viciously bit off a chunk.
"Your eyes are glowing again."
A few feet away from the agents, the royal couple continued their completely uncanonical argument. "Out! Out! Out I tell you!" Caspian roared, completely unaware of the two identical guards who were alternately retching and taking notes. "Take all the clothing and jewelry that can get you out of Narnia and past the damned Lone Islands!"
The Queen of Narnia No-Longerfled the bedchambers of the angry King Caspian.
"What's Narnia No-Longerfled?"
"That, apparently," Suicide muttered. A miniature dragon, spangled with golden scales, came scurrying out of the scene towards them. It made straight for the headachy Scythian and coiled lovingly around his ankles, purring like a broken refrigerator and exhaling a jet of flame to scorch the hem of his tunic.
"Awww," Diocletian cooed. "He wikes you!"
Suicide shook his head. "He's gonna like me a lot less in a minute. Scene change coming up—"
Unlike most scene changes, which hit PPCers with the force of a troll greeting the boards after an Electrick Floorbanger, this transition was fairly smooth. The author had put in a line break, and took the trouble to announce the next chapter. Unusual. The little things which, while a good sign in a normal badfic, only made Dio and Su sick to their stomachs in this particular tale.
"Where are we?" Dio said, straightening her helm. Suicide pushed Narnia No-Longerfled (who was now cooing and embracing his backpack lovingly) away from him and checked the Words.
"A . . . wood, I guess. No description. There is a 'rock formation,' however, and two chickies—our Sues."
Dio and Suicide crept through the dense brush (one nice thing about undefined woods, they never had any brambles or roots to trip over, as such things were too specific) toward the rock formation, where their two Sues were sitting. One had blonde hair and blue eyes, as well as a corset which "seemed to put an emphasis on the fact that she was now a woman." "Meaning . . . it's tight?" Dio whispered to Suicide, who shushed her and fumbled in his backpack for his own CAD. Luckily, he'd thought to turn it off before coming into the fic, and it had not been destroyed. He pointed the CAD at the blonde girl:
[Mothiel. Marisuus intelligentsius. Terminate with extreme prejudice.]
"I've never seen it do that," Diocletian commented, ignoring the two girls who were now gossiping about King Caspian. The friend of the blonde, described as plainer but wittier, was telling "Mothiel" that she ought to "court" Caspian. How a woman courts a man, especially in a feudal society like Narnia, was not discussed. "Since when does a CAD make comments?"
"Rewired 'em a little. Anyway, I'm more worried about 'Mothiel' and 'Tadkeeta'," Suicide responded, checking the Analysis Device. The other one read [Tadkeeta: Marisuus bestfriendius. Terminate.] "One sounds like an Elvish pesticide, and the other one is a flamingly gay insect. As they say on the boards, WTF?"
“Mothiel, I think that you have a serious opportunity to think about.”
“This is no opportunity. This is a thousand women that have no bloodline whatsoever scrambling for queenhood and the opportunity to warm Caspian’s bed.”
“Which is exactly why you are more eligible than any of those other hussies. You do have royal blood.”
“Come now. We all have seen your father’s book. You are one of the last surviving descendants of King Peter the Great.”
"Charge," Suicide said instantly. "Peter didn't have children."
"Not that we know of, anyway."
"Trust me. His queens were his sisters. And unless the boy either had a gal we don't know about, which isn't very Narnia-ish, or got cozy with Susan, which I'm not even going to think about because my sanity is tenuous enough to begin with, Peter didn't have any kids. Period. Charge."
"Should I add one count of dirty talk to that?"
"Sues talk like that all the time, Dio. You should know."
"But a Sue who's allegedly a wise, proper young woman of an ancient house?"
"Good point. Ye gods, she can't even stay in her own character, let alone keep anyone else in theirs."
“Look, I don’t like using that as an excuse or advantage over others. It’s not a very good excuse, and it doesn’t make me eligible for queen," Mothiel was saying.
"Oooh, lookie, she's being modest. I can't wait to kill this one."
“Mothiel, you are a leader. You know it, I know it, and the entire village knows it. Think about how proud your father and the elders would be to know that the only girl in the village who has any education at all has become queen? You’re also pretty enough.”
"You know what?" Diocletian whispered. "I almost feel sorry for Tadkeeta. Look at her eyes. She KNOWS that the entire point of her existence is to be the backup for this little witch here."
“That isn’t relevant,” Mothiel said shortly, starting to get annoyed. Whenever the people of her village started talking of how beautiful she was, she reminded them sharply that she was descended from a long line of men with a weakness for dryads. That usually shut them up immediately. Talk of half bloods was not accepted by the society of the town.
Suicide snorted. "Since when? Narnians were proud of their heritage, most often after Caspian came to power. Hell, the original Narnians were half-bloods—mixed descendants of Frank and the nymphs and gods his kids married. Her bloodline would be a bragging right, especially if she's supposed to be descended from Peter as well—hell, I'm being logical again. Dio, do you have any liquor left?"
"Sorry. You drank it all." Diocletian hopped a little in place, humming to herself distractedly as she watched the scene unfold. The Author was now informing everybody that Mothiel "wasn't really that attractive. Her hair was a dishwater blonde that tended to curl at the roots and making it very difficult for her to keep it looking clean and nice. She tended to get dirty easily, as there was always work to be done around the village. Either she had to go catch a runaway pig, or the sheep needed to be attended to."
"Suuuure. And she's just gonna suddenly turn into a dazzling beauty when she gets cleaned up. Been there, done that," Diocletian yawned. "Su, I'm not listening to this tripe any more. You wanna portal?"
"Only if we don't miss any charges. Lessee . . . they dish about marriage for a while, Tadkeeta tells Mothiel that the Lone Islands are home to 'pirates, traitors, and thieves'—"
"What?" Dio retorted. "After Lord Bern took over?"
"Now YOU'RE being logical. Stop it."
"Anyway, aside from that little comment, we're not missing much. Let's portal." Suicide keyed the Remote Activator and opened a shimmering doorway, and the two agents leapt through.
They came out at the Touching Farewell scene. Mothiel and Tadkeeta were going to Cair Paravel for an unspecified reason, supposedly to get Caspian to fall in love with Mothiel. Whether Caspian would welcome unsolicited brides turning up on his doorstep was another matter, though Mothiel never bothered her not-pretty-no-really-really-just-an-ordinary-girl head about it. The two agents' spirits continued to fall; now there was not only Mothiel and Tadkeeta to get rid of, but a horse ("Crasinia"?), a pony, and a father to dispose of.
"Get 'em!" Suicide whispered as soon as the Sues were out of sight. Diocletian slipped the lead ring onto her thumb and drew back the string of her shortbow. A moment later, a hapless bit character—motionless as soon as his part was played—fell to the ground. Suicide leapt out of the bushes and dragged the body behind a conveniently placed barn. "We'll dispose of 'im later," he told an inquisitive Diocletian.
"We're gonna be in Cair Paravel soon," Diocletian said as Suicide returned, wiping the blood off his hands. "What should we be?"
"We can stick with the guards," Suicide offered.
"No. Not mean enough. It has to be something that could ostensibly kidnap a member of the nobility at Cair Paravel."
"Centaurs, then. I always wanted to be a centaur."
"Okey-dokey. Four legs, one tail, and identity issues coming up."
Diocletian dug into her own pack and pulled out the Disguise-Outfitting Ryticular Kostume System, currently disguised as an empty soda can. She pressed a few seemingly random spots on the can, and the pair of them were instantly transformed into centaurs—Suicide a handsome roan stallion with a gray tail, and Diocletian a mare with a black body and a white tail. For the sake of modesty, and knowing the centaurs' tendency to bare-chestedness, she had also programmed herself a tunic. The D.O.R.K.S., now masquerading as a pair of handcuffs, was tucked back into the pack.
"This is weird," she commented, pawing the ground uncertainly with one forefoot. Suicide was already leaping, frisking about the unspecified farmland and gleefully swatting at insects with his long tail. He was also humming something that sounded suspiciously like "Ghost Riders in the Sky," but Diocletian didn't ask about that. Trifle not with ancient warriors, for their taste in country music is not to be questioned. Instead, she settled for a casual "I've never had four legs before."
"I have!" Suicide called as he leapt over a highly log and skidded in a circle on his hooves. "Missions to the Disc. Angua Marty Stan. I was a werewolf."
"What was that like?"
"Fun, in an obsessive way. I got out of the disguise when I started smelling what color sweater my partner was wearing."
After about ten minutes of joyful frisking, the two agents reluctantly called a halt. "Well," Suicide said heavily, using his tail to swat away the fawning Narnia No-Longerfled, "Shall we go on to the blatantly dwarfist yet oddly calm rape scene?"
"Do we have any Pink Stuff back at Headquarters?"
Suicide opened a portal to yet another Unspecified Forest and they stepped through; Narnia No-Longerfled, who seemed to be desperately eager to make himself liked, was carrying Suicide's pack in his mouth. The party of three immediately found themselves in a thick wood, where Mothiel was currently climbing a tall tree.
Since the scene was reported from the viewpoint of Mothiel in the treetop, what the PPC agents down below saw was nothing short of bizarre. Mothiel had climbed up to see if they were on the road to Cair Paravel; at ground level, the entire base of the tree was suddenly submerged in a thick mist. The agents could hear Tadkeeta calling to Mothiel, but what Tadkeeta was actually DOING was never described, what appeared were all the possibilities of what she might be doing. At once. Diocletian winced and clamped her hands over her eyes, and Suicide's hindquarters jerked, throwing the slumbering Narnia No-Longerfled headlong into a gorse bush.
Mothiel started to climb, but was stopped when her friend, at the bottom of the tree, started to scream and give a great commotion.
“Tadkeeta, whatever is the matter!”
“Don’t come down, dearest!”
"Subtle yuri implication," Diocletian said under her breath, still refusing to look. Somehow, she managed to scribble down "utter lack of emotion" without uncovering her eyes. Suicide had turned his back on the scene and was concentrating on the mini-dragon, who had clambered out of the bushes apparently unharmed and was now demanding, via insistent gestures, to be tossed again.
“Why not?” asked Mothiel obstinately.
“There’s a horrid little man and he’s trying to–” She screamed again, and Mothiel, quite the opposite of what her friend told her, hastened to get down to the bottom. “Little man” sounded like a dwarf, or quite possibly a gnome, and her friend, who’d little experience with such creatures, would not know how to handle such a thing. It took her five whole minutes to get down the tree, and when she got to the bottom, a pesky little dwarf was sitting on top of her friend, grinning evilly from ear to ear.
"One: using attempted rape as a plot device," Diocletian narrated, having uncovered her eyes now that the eye-mauling image distortion was over. "Two: making dwarfs rapists. Dwarfs wouldn't rape humans, they'd think it was beneath them. Three—"
"Making PPC agents sick," Suicide cut in. His bronze skin was now a vague greenish, and his left eye was getting that worrisome twitch again. The last time that twitch had appeared, Ranariel the Elf Ranger had been given alive to a cadre of bored Uruk-hai. "Rape as a plot device. This one is MINE."
“Sir, would you please remove yourself from my friend’s backside?”
"Backside? So, we've got a gay dwarf?"
"Not in C. S. Lewisland, we wouldn't."
"Charging and retching."
The dwarf had responded to this comment with a lewd offer, which Mothiel had haughtily refused. The would-be rapist drew a knife, then suddenly dropped it and ran off screaming into the woods.
"Dio, you don't even know what I was going to say."
"Charge for unspecified aura of mysticism scaring off enemies and making dwarfs wusses?"
"Actually, I was going to say 'charge for making any dwarf desperate enough to go after her,' but yours works too."
Mothiel helped her bewildered-yet-somehow-unconcerned friend to her feet, and the two girls were on their way. Diocletian was now on the third page of her charge list, Suicide was flexing his knuckles and grinding his teeth a lot, and even Narnia No-Longerfled seemed out of sorts.
This scene change, without differentiation or even warning, hit the group hard. Suicide was knocked over and Diocletian was sent flying, the mini-dragon with her, as what had been the woods abruptly became Cair Paravel again. The two centaurs scrambled to find their footing, hooves slipping on the Generic Stone Floor, as the author announced that the two girls had made their arrival quiet, and that Mothiel gave out the reason that she wanted to study under the "historical expert" Pr. Timbledim.
"'Timbledim'?" Suicide hissed, clambering to his four feet. "And what the hell is 'pr.'?"
"I think it's short for 'professor,'" Diocletian grunted, currently having issues with the slippery marble. "I think it should be P-F, not P-R, though. Not a charge, but sloppy."
The two girls were to attend dinner privately with the professor of Cair Paravel. Afterward, they would retreat to his study so that he may assess Mothiel’s capability and learning thus far.
It was not until that afternoon that they found that they had gotten more than they had bargained for. The undefined scene shifted, becoming a beautiful suite of rooms—most likely the home of the professor of Cair Paravel. Diocletian industriously charged for having "professors" in Narnia, and the two centaurs—still utterly ignored by everybody, even the Sues—settled down on their rumps to watch events eventuate.
Both looked nice as they went off to a small dining room where they would be attending dinner with the professor. They knocked once on the door, and a gruff voice called, “Enter.” Mothiel entered first, but was shocked to find that a scholar was not the only person that greeted the two of them. Instead, a King awaited them.
Both immediately bent their knees to the ground and murmured, “Your Majesty.”
“Rise, there’s no need for that posh in here.”
Suicide raised an eyebrow. "English isn't my first language, or even my third, but that doesn't sound right at all. 'No need for that posh'? Check it, Dio."
His partner fumbled a slang dictionary out of her backpack and flipped through the pages. "'Posh, adjective, colloq. British: smart and fashionable.' No need for that fashionable?"
"Misuse of British slang. Kill. Kill. Kill."
"My thoughts exactly." Diocletian rubbed her forehead. "And we've still got another chapter to go. Dear Eru, why do we do this?"
"A pittance of money and the safety of the canon?"
"Bastardized Hellboy quote. But yes."
“We were just showing the proper respect, sire,” said Mothiel sharply.
“Ah, and who has the sharp tongue on her?” asked Caspian.
"That's not sharp. That's a comment," Diocletian yelped. "She made a comment. One lousy comment. A sharp tone does not mean a sharp tongue! A sharp tongue implies wit! She's not witty! She's not even emotional! She's just a bloody android who doesn't even react when her friend is being sexually assaulted by a homosexually inclined midget fantasy creature with no taste in women!"
Apparently, that outburst finally broke through to the Sue. Diocletian would later guess that the effort of turning Caspian into an abusive jackass had kept her distracted; at the time, all she thought was "Oh shit! SUE!" She hurriedly bowed to Mothiel, making a great deal of elaborate gestures of honor, fealty, and so forth. Suicide did the same, a good deal more theatrically. Mothiel shrugged and went back to introducing herself as "Mothiel, daughter of Friedrich, son of Gryvbsten Sanpeter."
"Close one," Suicide whispered as the canon once more hid them from prying eyes. "What have I told you about ranting?"
"Oh, relax. I was justified! Just knocking that Sue-spirit out of Caspian is gonna be awfully hard . . . "
"Not as hard as pronouncing her father's name. Gryv—Gryvubb—" Suicide stumbled over the word. "Gryvs—Gryvubbust—bloody hell! Dio, charge for linguistic impossibilities."
Diocletian did so. As she closed the little notebook, she glanced over at her partner; Suicide was muttering quietly to himself, keeping his eyes fixed on the scene. She thought she heard a vaguely familiar tune, and the words " . . . bugger the canon however you please / screw up the grammar with definite ease / but however you bugger, don't worry, we'll cope / and we'll tell you that you can go piss up a . . . "
Meanwhile, Caspian was busy telling Mothiel that her arrival had been looked for. "Why yes, a messenger bird flew in yesterday. He told me that you wished to study under the professor, and also wished to seek my company," as the Author had him put it. Mothiel paled, Dramatically Worried that her father had told Caspian about her plan to become his new sex mistre—bride. Caspian turned out not to be aware of this, saying that he just wanted to learn about the family of the High King, Peter. Never mind that such a family hadn't even existed until about an hour ago.
“And what is that?” she asked, voice trembling.
“Why, the history of King Peter’s family, of course. I do not think that King Peter realized that he had left a son behind in Narnia. He left before it was discovered, the little book of yours.”
“What do you mean sire?” asked Mothiel uncertainly.
“I mean that twenty years ago, Peter was here in Narnia.”
"And of course, Mothiel—being a Narnian citizen and a member of a royal house—never heard that the King Peter had returned. After Peter's public fight with Miraz and the whole schtick with the woods coming alive, she never bothered about it." Suicide's voice was dull, and he sounded a little shell-shocked by the whole mess. Purple Stuff was a wonder, but it only neutralized the alcohol instead of flushing it out of the system, and neither he nor his partner was at 100% yet. Not facing a Caspian Sue.
At the mention of Edmund, Mothiel fainted dead away, and the chapter came to an end.
"Thank God that's over," Diocletian panted. "One more chapter, and then we can kill. There's the father's body to dispose of, Caspian and his wife to exorcise, two CAFs, and an extra BestFriend!Sue. I think we're going to need a vacation. Maybe several vacations."
"Chin up," Suicide said, as the story gave a lurch and segued into Chapter Two. "I've got a good idea for a death."
"Painful and appropriate."
As the second chapter began, Mothiel awoke propped up on some cushions. She immediately felt foolish, as she should, given that she keeled over like a bowling pin for no apparent reason. "I’m very sorry, everyone; I don’t know what came over me."
Tadkeeta rolled her eyes at her friend. She was acting quite silly indeed!
“Are you feeling all right, Madame?” asked Caspian, raising a noble eyebrow at her.
Diocletian blinked. "'Noble eyebrow'?"
"'Abstract Adjectives.' Charge."
The Sue passed off her ailment as high blood pressure, which didn't happen to exist in Narnia. Pf. Timbledim insisted that they eat, and Mothiel laughed, glad for an excuse away from her own simplicity.
"Interesting," Suicide commented. The Sue had transformed into a dotted paper cut-out. "Should've been simplemindedness, I guess."
Diocletian hurriedly flipped to a new page and made a sketch of the pattern. "Ooooh, make-your-own-Sue . . . nice. You'd think it would've been a Vogue pattern, though; the Simplicities are really easy."
"That's because making a Sue is easy. Cheap at the price of your self-respect."
The dinner was fairly simple, with duck and white bread, covered both by a venison gravy. Mothiel, whose ancestry was half tree-spirit, ate naught but the fruits offered. She spoke of the life of a commoner in her village, accompanied somewhat by Tadkeeta, who allowed for her two pence to be put in occasionally.
"Ahem. Venison gravy with duck? You don't mix waterfowl and red meat, moron. Charge for abuse of culinary sensibilities."
"Are you sure that's right—" Diocletian began.
"I don't care. Just write it down so we can kill her for it."
"All right. I hope that death you've got planned is appropriate, though."
Suicide grinned. "Keep watching. In a few minutes, it will be."
Caspian, meanwhile, was wondering about Mothiel; according to the Author, he had been expecting a beauty queen, not a real woman who had been raised on pigs, mud, and stone, and this confused him. Diocletian cursed and began to beat her head against the wall.
"But he likes a girl to look good and have manners, it's in the book! Drinian said so! 'He would have been pleased had the king's majesty married his daughter, but nothing came of that'—'Squints, and has freckles,' said Caspian."
"Wait and see."
Diocletian turned. Her partner was standing unusually still. A wide grin had spread across his face, and there was more than a little glimmer of teeth in it.
"Dio . . . you have just given me a fantastic idea. Another one." He pulled out the portal generator and began to punch buttons. "Listen, I want you to keep watching here. Record everything. I'll be back in a minute."
A portal appeared in the air, and the agent leapt through it. Diocletian shrugged and leaned back against the wall, watching as the Sue expressed how real and commonplace she was by talking with her mouth full, which Caspian found charming. Tadkeeta was introduced to the King, and it was established that the Sues would stay in Cair Paravel and learn history with Pf. Timbledim. The agent was making a note on her pad—Timbledim not harmful. Assimilate? Recruit?—when the portal reopened and Suicide tumbled through. He was pale and sweaty, and his centaur body was soaking wet.
"Cripes!" Diocletian yelped. "Suicide, what the hell—"
"Never mind," he panted. "It's there."
"An appropriate punishment."
"Su, I love the mystery act as much as the next psychotic, but you're getting a little—"
"Trust me. She deserves it."
"I wouldn't trust you with a burnt-out match."
"What a lovely relationship we have."
"Heartwarming, yes. Between death and getting drunk, I simply don't know how other people survive in their own bare lives."
Her partner wiped a mess of gluey Sar-Plasm © off the wall, inspecting the muck on his fingers with the detached air of a master chef discovering that there happens to be a cockroach the size of Madagascar in the coq au vin. "Interesting."
Diocletian groaned, but her partner shot her a loaded glare and she left off. "We've missed the end of the dinner," Suicide commented, looking at the empty hall. "Let's portal to later on. I don't want to see her display her Amazing Knowledge of Narnia."
"I'll second that. So what's this incredible sin of hers—besides creating Abusive!Caspian—that you're planning this punishment for?"
"No point in spoiling the surprise. Through the portal, my dear."
The two centaur-agents gathered their gear (and Narnia No-Longerfled, who was now batting insistently at Suicide's tail) and jumped through. Suicide and Diocletian reemerged in the study, as the professor was reviewing Mothiel's history test. Or, as the Author put it:
However, after reviewing the test, the professor told her that she was in good shape, that she just needed to fine-tune in a few places, and that she was in the perfect spot to study with the professor. He gave her some books from his library that he requested that she read before the following Second-day (Monday in our world). After that, the four settled down to a small desert of caramels by the fire, resigned to converse before retiring.
"Given what she's just done to the room, I'm not surprised that they were resigned to talking with her," Suicide muttered. The study, homey and warm if fairly nondescript, had transformed into a flattish expanse of sticky brown stuff. He gingerly raised a hoof and tasted it. "Yuck."
"Sue-caramel. What's it like?"
"Sweet, sticky, and cloying, with underlying hints of upchuckyness." Suicide spat it out. "Eughr. Sugar-free Duncan Hines', I think."
"I'm sure there's a metaphor in that, but I'm too wasted to look for it." His partner glanced up at the Words. "How much longer?"
Suicide grinned. "Not long. Not long now."
They spoke pleasantries before Mothiel summoned up the bravery to ask how the negotiations with the Ettinsmoor giants went.
"Negotiations?" Diocletian repeated. "With the giants?"
“Not well, I’m afraid,” Caspian said heavily. “They want to be able to feed freely on humans and talking animals alike, but I won’t have it. Imagine the nerve they must possess to demand that we allow them to come into our country and eat the citizens as they willed? Impossible!”
The female agent sighed contentedly. Suicide's CAD was humming "Tiptoe through the Tulips" as Caspian's OOC rating abruptly dropped from 44% to 2.5%. "Common sense. At last," Diocletian murmured.
"Just wait." Suicide's voice was grim.
“But sire, is that the only demand that has been laid down?” asked Mothiel shrewdly.
“No. They want teachers to educate them, but I’m not stupid. Either they’ll eat the teachers and say that the teachers committed a crime, then request for a new one, or they’ll use their new education against us. They want to know our histories and our grammar and our culture. They’ll use it against us in war.”
Dio looked thoughtful, tapping her pen against her teeth. "That's a little cynical for Caspian, but he has a point. The Ettinsmoor giants aren't terribly bright, and they do like a bit of human pâté occasionally. 'Man: this elegant little biped has long been a traditional part of the Autumn Feast, and is served between the fish and the joint.'"
The Scythian, on the other hand, had a face like stone. "Keep watching, Dio."
“But is it right to deny them an education?”
“If they would use against us in war, yes, it is right.”
“I see,” said Mothiel, somewhat annoyed.
There was a moment of silence between the PPC agents, perhaps in acknowledgement of the death of common sense. Dio shook her head a little bit dazedly, her expression disbelieving. "She's not going to say the giants are—"
"She's going to make them—"
“You think me wrong!” exclaimed Caspian indignantly.
“Yes, I do,” she said, annoyed. “It is possible, you know, even for a king to be wrong.”
“But they will use it against us in war!”
“How can you be sure? Maybe you will save lives by allowing them to have an education. Maybe you should teach them basic grammar and basic technology and then leave it to the next generation to teach the next and develop their own ideas. Who knows? Maybe soon, politics. If they had real politicians, maybe war would not be an issue.”
The two PPC agents were struck dumb. But somehow, as if it had acquired a will of its own, Dio's pen began to scrivvet: being PC about giants.
“You act as if most of them are dumb animals. Some of them are actually quite intelligent.”
“Then why is the education factor such a big ordeal?”
“Madame, are you deliberately being obstinate?”
“How may one be obstinate not deliberately?"
“Do not push me,” Caspian warned her.
“Well gentlemen, I shall retire before one of us has a tantrum."
Straw? Hi. Nice to see you. This is the camel.
In and of itself, a Mary Sue being bratty and insulting was not a novelty. But at the point when an ostensibly sensible character talked back to a brave and noble King—practically accusing him of immaturity while supporting an idea which deserved its own wing in the Halls of Idiocy—the two agents simply couldn't take it any longer.
Suicide was the first to snap. With a roar, he flung aside his pack and charged, hooves moving so fast that they never had time to sink into the gooey caramel floor. He bore down on the group like a thunderbolt, and Diocletian was right behind him. Caspian leapt to his feet, but his character had been yo-yoing so drastically all day that he wasn't in any shape to fight—certainly not two mad centaurs with advanced technology, their own agenda, and the stop-me-and-you-will-be-horse-chow look on their faces.
The roan centaur landed in front of Mothiel, who shrieked and stumbled backwards. Tadkeeta, still playing the supportive best friend Sue, tried to run at the roan, but was blocked by a black-and-white female centaur with a maddened glint in her eye and a strange piece of paper in her hand.
"We'll deal with you soon enough," the female warned. "Trust me, you don't want to get anywhere near him when he's like this."
At last, Caspian reacted. He jumped to his feet and cast about madly for his sword, but the Sue had never mentioned that he carried it with him. Dumbed-down, made evil, and without any proper description, Caspian was paralyzed. He could only stare in shock as the roan centaur poleaxed Mothiel with a hatstand and, tearing down a tasseled curtain, began to tie her up.
"Get the others," he snapped at the female, who nodded and immediately turned to Tadkeeta and the professor. She unslung a vicious-looking shortbow and eyed each of the two UnCanons in turn, as if trying to decide which would be shish-kebabbed first.
"All right," Diocletian said. "We can do this the hard way, or—well, actually, there's just the hard way, but there's painful and not-quite-as-painful. Extra gore an option for only eight commas less. Your Majesty," she called over her shoulder to Caspian, who was still frozen in the middle of the room, "we beg your pardon for this inconvenience. If Your Majesty will be patient, your wife will soon be restored to you and this entire tragedy forgotten. But first, we must crave Your Majesty's indulgence a bit longer. These three interlopers will be dealt with, you have our word."
Caspian could do nothing except nod dumbly.
"Righty, that's dealt with," Diocletian commented cheerfully. Tadkeeta's hand began to edge towards an ornamental vase, but the agent shook her head and the Sue stopped. "Hey, Suicide," she said, "where and how are we gonna leave these two? We have to find Ramandu's daughter—"
"Taken care of," her partner's voice called back. There were a few odd clicky noises, and a portal opened underneath the two UnCanons. Tadkeeta and Professor Timbledim vanished, twin screams trailing behind them as they were swallowed by the glittering doorway. Before Diocletian could see where they had gone, the portal vanished.
"Why'd you do that?" she said a little grouchily as she turned to face her partner. "We didn't get to charge them!"
Suicide grinned. "They're somewhere safe. In the meantime, we've got to fix Cair Paravel. First order of business: find the queen. She's probably hidden her in a plothole someplace."
His partner squinted at the sky, checking the Words. "Well, lessee . . . 'The Queen of Narnia No-Longerfled the bedchambers of the angry King Caspian.' So she was last seen in the vicinity of the bedroom . . . gotta be somewhere close."
"Queen of Narnia No—aha!" Suicide said. He bent down and picked up the mini-dragon, which was sitting on the floor yawning. "Open wide!"
As Diocletian and Caspian stared in amazement, Suicide quite literally dragged the beautiful daughter of the star from the dragon's open mouth. She wasn't covered in dragon slobber, as Dio vaguely expected, but she was ruffled, dirty, and it looked as though she had been sobbing quietly. At that, Caspian seemed to come to life—he rushed forward with a glad cry and gathered his wife into his arms. She wrapped her arms around him in turn and the couple embraced, both weeping freely.
"A living plothole, huh?" Diocletian said finally, looking down at Narnia No-Longerfled. He was still sitting in Suicide's grasp, looking a little shocked at what had come from his maw. Then the little dragon flexed his jaws a few times, exhaled a jet of smoke, and proceeded to lick the agent's face fiercely.
"Gyah—dragon spit—hah hah ha—ah, no, not that—ow—YEOWCH—watch the ear—GAH! Dio, help!"
"One minute. Excuse me," Diocletian called, donning stylish shades. "Your Majesties, would you please look this way?"
"What is this sorcery—" Caspian began, but he was cut off by a blinding flash of white light. He and his wife stood still, dazed, as the neuralyzer wiped away their memories of Mothiel and her ilk.
"All right," the agent said. "You two love each other very much. You will fall asleep, and when you wake up, you will both remember nothing about this. Oh, and my lady, you would be happy if you and Caspian were to have a kid. Name him Rilian. And no, you never saw a centaur being assaulted by an extremely affectionate miniature dragon with personal space issues. Ta!"
* * *
"Why didn't you stop him?" Suicide complained as they trotted through the gates of Cair Paravel. The few canons which did notice them didn't pay much attention to two more centaurs, although the appearance of the roan one did give them a bit of a surprise: his face was now bright red, scoured clean by the the dragon's tongue. Narnia No-Longerfled was riding on his back, looking obscenely smug. "Couldn't you have pinned him down, or—or given him bacon, or something?"
"Naw. I'd rather watch you squirm, truth be told. Now," Diocletian said, tapping one hoof against a paving stone, "what's this grand and appropriate death you've got planned for our Sues? It's almost time for my medication."
Suicide looked up, squinting at the sun. "Yeah . . . they should have marinated long enough. Hand me the D.O.R.K.S., would you?"
His partner fished out the device, which now appeared to be a broken vinyl record of "Walk Like an Egyptian." Suicide took the record and began to fiddle with it, twisting and punching in a complicated series of commands; the record shivered and turned into a pack of Twizzlers. The agents' centaur forms vanished.
Narnia No-Longerfled yelped as the horsey back he had been sitting on abruptly disappeared, but that was the least of everybody's concerns at the moment: the two agents were now thin, shadowy, identical forms, nearly invisible in the sunlight. Diocletian squinted at her hand, which could barely be seen. Even in the warmth of a summer day in Cair Paravel, there was a creeping feeling of chilly fear. It was a form she had never seen in Narnia, but when she saw the shadowy grin on her partner's face, she understood. And an identical smile appeared on her own mouth.
"You quoting 'Dawn Treader' gave me the idea," Suicide explained. "We had to stow the UnCanons someplace while we dealt with Caspian. And it'd be bloody stupid to go to this place while we were ourselves."
"The Island where Dreams Come True. They've been there about ten minutes now, and the terror should be setting in nicely. Got it?"
The slightly shorter of the two nightmares nodded, waving a piece of shadowy nightmare paper. "Got it. Let's go."
* * *
"It's . . . it's there," Mothiel whispered, huddling against the ground. "It's all around us. I can hear it!"
"The darkness," her friend said quietly. Tadkeeta was hunched with her back to a stumpy rock. Mothiel, the great scholar, knew where they were—but that didn't help them one bit. If anything, it only increased their fear: the island where dreams come true. Real dreams.
"Listen!" Mothiel shouted. "I'm going to marry King Caspian! You can't do anything to me!"
"That was only a daydream," a voice whispered. It was a cold voice, one that reeked of gray stone and dark tombs and voices forever silenced. Evidently, all the description that the Sue had denied to Narnia was returning in force—real, full, pissed-off Eye-of-Argon's-got-nothing-on-me force.
"It was my dream!" she shrieked. "My dream! And it's going to come true, no matter what happens! That's your job! It has to!"
There was a slow hiss, and a breath of cold air washed over the three UnCanons. Mothiel shrieked again, less heroically this time, and tried to leap to her feet . . . but the misty darkness closed around her again, and there were things in that darkness, strange shadowy things that moved towards her. The wraiths laughed with horrible hoarse voices and swirled around her and her friends, chuckling like hungry tigers and chilling her to the bone with their freezing breath.
"Not daydreams, girl. Real dreams."
"You stole that line," one hissed to another.
"I don't give a damn. It's appropriate. You, Mothiel," the taller of the shadows whispered darkly, "you don't belong here."
"None of you do."
"You dreamed of being everything, but you never stopped to think that you might take that everything from another. You who left one with nothing, who dared to corrupt and thought to change the world—you will be the one to see the truth of your folly."
Mothiel whimpered. "Tadkeeta, protect me!"
"Protect yourself," Tadkeeta muttered darkly.
"What?" Mothiel rounded on her friend. "You're my best friend! You're here to help me! Kill them!"
"Maybe I don't want to," the bit character snapped. "Go do something yourself for once! I don't exist to do your work!"
"Yes, you do!" the Sue whimpered. "Go get rid of them!"
"Bugger off," the other girl responded.
One of the shadows nudged the other, and both nodded. "Mothiel Sanpeter," the shorter one said. "It's time to go."
"To see the ones you love," the taller shadow said in sepulchral tones.
A brilliant blue portal snapped into existence under Mothiel, and she fell through with a scream. The two dark creatures grinned at Tadkeeta and Pr. Timbledim, and for a moment, Tadkeeta was sure that one of them winked.
"Back in a minute," it said, and they leapt through the portal after Mothiel.
* * *
Now they were all standing on a vast, gleaming wooden floor. High above them towered huge round structures made of some sort of glazed stone, metal boxes and bowls as big as houses, and a book the size of a respectable wall. Mothiel was trembling before the two shadows, who had suddenly become human again.
"All right," Suicide said calmly, unsheathing his sword, "Diocletian?"
"You got it. Mothiel Sanpeter," his partner continued in a grim tone, "you are hereby charged as a Mary Sue by the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. You are also charged with making Caspian an abusive bastard, creating the mini Narnia No-Longerfled, performing a disappearing act with the Queen of Narnia, completely screwing up canon, making dwarfs rape humans, having an unspecified aura of mysticism and fear, having no discernible emotions whatsoever, playing dumb to such an extent that you ought to have brain damage to make it believeable—come on, who didn't hear about Peter's duel with Miraz?—being a descendant of Peter when no such liaison ever occurred, creating prejudice against half-breeds for dramatic effect, apparently forgetting that you'd established Caspian as an abusive bastard and thus mucking his character up AGAIN—Suicide, grab her!"
The Sue had made a break for freedom, but her captors were too quick. Suicide had his bow up and ready in an instant, and Mothiel crashed to the surface of the table with an arrow sticking through her knee. The two agents strolled over to her, and Diocletian pinned her to the ground with one foot while Suicide extracted the arrow. Mothiel whimpered, and Diocletian flourished the charge list at her.
"Sorry, hun, we're gonna have to add 'resisting arrest' too. Okay, mucking Caspian's character up again, resisting arrest, linguistic impossibilities in the form of an unprecedented and unpronounceable YVBST combination, making Caspian's eyebrows noble, being amazed at your simplicity, abuse of culinary sensibilities by mixing duck and red meat, creating a desert of caramels, putting professors other than Digory Kirke in Narnia, having a best friend with a really damn stupid name, naming your horse 'Crasinia,' which is a killing offense in and of itself, being PC about the giants, and above all BEING A MARY SUE, you are condemned to die. Your punishment is to be revenged upon by the very canon you have mutilated. Have a nice day." Diocletian folded up the charge list. "Any questions?"
"Okay, Suicide, do your thing."
Suicide grabbed the Sue around the waist and heaved her over his shoulder. "Let's go."
A few minutes later, there was a thunderous knocking on the doors of the Castle Harfang. The young giantish porter threw them open, and found a human lying prostrate on the doorstep—an unconscious young woman in a highly inappropriate dress. There was a note pinned to her dress: Wishing you best for the Autumn Feast. Yours, the Lord and Lady of the Cactus.
A grin spread across the giant's face, and he stumped off to tell the King and Queen. On that knee, their latest pie wouldn't be running far.
* * *
A portal opened and dumped Suicide, Diocletian, Tadkeeta, Timbledim, and the two horses out on a stretch of unspecified roadway. The body of Mothiel's father was still lying in the bushes, and Tadkeeta stifled a scream when she saw it.
"All right," Suicide said, staring at the UnCanons with a casual air, "We don't actually have any charges on you people. Granted, the horses are Cute Animal Friends, but we have a rescue society to deal with them. We're not going to kill you, so stop whimpering, prof. The question is, what are we going to do with you?"
"Wh—" Tadkeeta whispered. "What are you?"
"Protectors of the Plot Continuum," Diocletian replied. "It's our job to get rid of people who shouldn't be here. And you two don't belong. Not in this country, anyway . . ."
Suicide shot her a glance. "What do you mean?"
"I think we should recruit them. The Psych Department can always use another egghead around, and Tadkeeta might be salvageable."
"Makes sense. All right, you two. How would you like to join the PPC?"
Tadkeeta's eyes widened. "And kill? Kill people?"
"Mary Sues, yeah. People like Mothiel."
The professor looked uncomfortable, and Tadkeeta seemed to be paralyzed. "I don't think they're—" Diocletian began.
"Are you kidding?" Tadkeeta broke out. "Do you people think I wanted to follow that witch around and talk her up all day? Where do I sign up?"
The two agents' grins mirrored each other. "We'll show you," Suicide said. "Through the glittery blue thing, please."
* * *
"Well, that was painful," Diocletian groaned, collapsing onto the ragged couch. Thiranduil immediately leapt into her lap, but she shooed him away and slapped out the fire that had started on her legs. "Poor Caspian . . . only two chapters, and all those atrocities. Still, I feel sorry for the Gentle Giants. They'll probably get indigestion."
"At least we didn't have to get rid of the best friend and the professor," Suicide pointed out. "They'll probably fit in well, once they're deconditioned. And Fitzgerald will probably appreciate having someone around who can follow his medical jargon."
"And the horses should do well. Having a pet ought to calm Makes-Things down a bit, and lord knows he can take care of them. Or build a robot to do it, or something." Diocletian stretched out on the couch and covered her eyes with one arm. "He was grateful, too. The poor guy was so overwhelmed, he couldn't speak. There were tears in his eyes."
Suicide lit a cigarette. "Won't last long," he predicted. "I hear that the Marquis de Sod is forming a special department to train CAFs as attack animals. 'Crasinia' will probably end up doing fieldwork in the LotR division . . . like Alice and all the others." The agent took a deep drag and blew smoke out through his nostrils, visibly soothed by something which would eventually kill him and thus grant permanent time off from the PPC. His long gray hair was unusually frazzled. "It wasn't that bad, you know. Only two chapters. Could've been worse."
"Yeah, but it was the little things that screwed it over," his partner groaned. "Caspian . . . lordy lordy, the next movie they make will probably be 'Prince Caspian.' Then 'Dawn Treader' and 'Silver Chair'—and the next thing you know, we'll have Caspian-Sues out the wazoo. I hate this job."
"No, you don't. It's given your otherwise invalidated existence meaning." Suicide exhaled another cumulonimbus of smoke.
"Bugger that. At least as a Sue, everything went my way. Now I'm sitting on a lousy old couch that the Salvation Army wouldn't take, wondering if there's a world beyond these damn gray concrit walls and hoping it's not beans 'n' franks night in the cafeteria . . . 'cause if it is, I'd rather eat my words." She picked up one of her discarded boots and began to peel caramel off the sole in a disconsolate way. "Or someone else's, anyway. Desert of caramels . . . good grief."
There was a rusty purring noise from underneath the console. A moment later, a long tongue of flame shot out from the recess and engulfed one of Suicide's discarded socks, which combusted with the force of a small bomb and left yet more charred marks on the wall. The two agents barely blinked.
"And then there's him," Diocletian added, popping a chunk of gooey caramel into her mouth. "Wha we gonna do bouh him, huh? Gih ih do Uniersih'ee?"
Suicide knelt down and peered under the console. Glittering eyes stared back at him, and then a long, slimy tongue began to affectionately clean out his ears. The agent sputtered and backed away, but the mini-dragon followed him and proceeded to give his face an industrial-grade scouring. Diocletian cooed through her headache, and this time, Suicide managed to grin.
"This little bastard's irritating," he proclaimed. "Affectionate to the point of insanity, completely lacking the ability to sit down and shut up, and evil yet endearing. No sane University will take him."
"A perfect PPC pet, in other words," Diocletian finished. Suicide nodded, smiling his toothy grin. Narnia No-Longerfled responded by thoroughly slobbering all over his clean jumpsuit.
"We have a cozy family dynamic," her partner said. "Thiranduil can learn to share his hibachi, and if it really is beans 'n' franks night, I'll be stealing some of that caramel. There's only one thing that can happen now."
"I had a feeling that would happen." Diocletian groaned again, and flopped back onto the couch. "What's the damage this time?"
"Éomer Sue. Puts a ballroom in Rohan. Kill material."
"Wake me up in an hour. She can wait that long, can't she?"
"The Sunflower won't like it . . . "
"He won't be liking anything for a while. I put Blumble in his fertilizer."
"It's made of Bleeprin." Diocletian considered for a moment. "Well, mainly Bleeprin."
"I don't want to know, do I?"
"No. You don't."