Disclaimer: The PPC belong to Jay and Acacia. Star Wars is the creation of George Lucas. Daemons and the alternate
A/N: This mission takes place following Mission 5-B of Response Centre #24601, which can be found here.
Warning: Contains unpleasant language in other languages.
“That is IT!” Maria announced, slamming the door of the TARDIS and storming out into the hallway, followed by three Minis. Crispin raced after her, trying to sputter out an apology.
“Look, Maria, it’s not that bad. I mean, the Doctor’s been off by years, and hundreds of miles. This was just a little miscalculation…”
“We’re three weeks late! I’ve had enough of alien junk, and spaceships, and lasers! I am never doing science-fiction again, and I am going to the SO to tell him just that!” She continued to storm, with Crispin close behind.
Moon wandered off in the opposite direction. The Sunflower Official didn’t like him, because of the poking incident, and Moon didn’t like the Sunflower Official, because it was a talking flower and therefore couldn’t be trusted. He’d go wander a bit, see some of HQ, and be back in the Response Centre by the time Maria was done ranting.
The halls were much more battered than he remembered, and several times, he passed maintenance people repairing holes and scorch marks. Those Agents who’d been there for the macrovirus attack, or who had returned to fight the Mary-Sue invasion, had fought quite a vicious battle. Moon felt a little guilty that Crispin’s poor piloting skills hadn’t gotten them to HQ until after the fighting was done. Not that they hadn’t done their fair share of fighting back in
“You! With the lightsaber!” A woman with a bird on her head came running down the hall. She wasn’t old, but she was definitely older than the average Agent—somewhere in her thirties—and her hair was prematurely grey. The flash patch on her shoulder identified her as a member of DoMS. “What’s your Department?”
“Me?” The woman nodded.
“Yes, you. What’s your Department?”
“Mary-Sues. Um, Freelance Division.” He probably should get one of those patches. The Sunflower Official had forgotten to give him one. Or perhaps hadn’t given him one on purpose, to get revenge for the poking thing. That was a typical floral thing to do.
“Excellent,” said the woman. “Come on; I’m drafting you.”
“You’re what?” The woman grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into the nearest Response Centre. Before the door shut, Moon got a look at the number: 1701. A small sign beneath the number read ‘Do not touch the magpie.’
There was nothing particularly remarkable about the inside of the RC, except perhaps that some of the technology was a bit outdated. Moon noted a lot of VHS tapes, which Crispin had explained were very old-fashioned. The portal was already fired up, and a small, pointy, and very scary-looking creature was staring at it.
“Davos, get away from that,” the woman scolded. “No Minis in the portal.”
The Mini-something launched into the air and flew up onto a shelf. Moon tapped the woman on the shoulder. “Um, who are you? And what do you mean, you’re drafting me?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman apologized. “How inconsiderate of me. April Halloway, and this is my daemon, Fitch.”
“Hello,” said the magpie on her head.
“Hi. Beethoven Sonata, but you can call me Moon.”
“I’m sorry to just grab you like that, but my partner and I find ourselves in need of an additional Agent, and someone with a lightsaber would be extremely useful. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Right, let’s get going. It’s Star Wars, pre-Episode One, two Sues going after Obi-Wan. My partner’s still in there, getting charges. Come on.” She grabbed hold of Moon’s arm—again—and dragged him through the portal.
Moon tried to protest that he didn’t know the first thing about Star Wars, other than that it had lightsabers in it, and that he didn’t take very kindly to being kidnapped from the hallway, but April either didn’t hear him or chose to ignore him. The daemon—what in the world was a daemon?—stared at him. Moon decided that birds were right up there with flowers on the list of things that shouldn’t be able to talk.
“And if the stone were to be found between two beings who share a pure, true love…” Klemar smiled and looked over his shoulder at a blue priestess who smiled timidly in return. “It would glow so white and beautifully. Like an unquenchable star.”
Jade shifted nervously. “May we take it?”
Klemar’s attention snapped to her. “The stone must be carried and protected by the three we have chosen for seven days. You may not leave the jungles until your time is through.”
“I don’t understand,” Jade said. “Why wander the jungles for seven days?”
“What I don’t understand,” said April, “Is what I did to deserve getting this thing the day I get released from Medical.” She looked around. “All right, my partner should be around here somewhere. Don’t move.”
She set off into the very hot and poorly-described jungle, leaving Moon to watch the Sues through a window in an over-described temple. He was sweating profusely after being in the continuum for only a few minutes; why had April decided that heavy robes were an appropriate disguise for a jungle setting?
Moon’s question was answered when he noticed the Sues. They were wearing the same sort of robes, as was a young man who stood with them. This young man was presumably the “Obi-Wan” April had mentioned. Apparently, these ridiculous outfits were canonical.
“Here he is.” April came up behind Moon, accompanied by someone Moon assumed was her partner. She was a teenage girl, with skin that appeared to be made of metal, dressed in the same annoying robes as Moon and April. “This is my partner, Lora Riker. Lora, this is Beethoven Sonata, who prefers to go by ‘Moon.’”
“I am pleased to meet you.” Lora shook Moon’s hand. To describe her grip as ‘crushing’ would be an understatement. Her skin not only appeared to be made of metal; it was metal, and it felt as though whatever was under it was equally hard and heavy. “I have already compiled an extensive charge list, and we are now in the fifth chapter. I estimate that the charges will be one point five pages in length by the end of the fic. Your help will be much appreciated.”
“Happy to help. Um, fifth chapter, you said? How many chapters are there?”
“Fifteen, in addition to an epilogue. When set in the same font as our mission reports, it is ninety-two pages in length. The fic contains a total of fifty-three thousand and twenty-eight words. We are now eleven thousand, seven hundred, and seventy-seven words into it,” said Lora. “There is an average of ten point two words per sentence and two point six…”
“Thank you, Lora,” April interrupted. “The Sues are coming out of the temple. Let’s go.”
April led the way through the jungle in pursuit of the characters. Moon kept behind her and attempted to start a conversation with Lora. Someone who could talk for more than a sentence about the word count in a fanfic could surely have something interesting to say.
April rubbed her shoulder, where Fitch should have been sitting, but her fingers met no feathers, only the cloth of her Jedi robes. She could still sense Fitch, but she couldn’t touch him, and it was driving her crazy. She probably would have gotten used to being fused with her daemon by now, if the disguise generator would just be consistent about it. Sometimes Fitch would be perfectly corporeal, and sometimes he would be squashed into the rest of her soul like a mashed potato. It drove them both crazy.
The Sues had stopped at a convenient waterfall, and one of them—“Jade Blood,” of all the ridiculous names—decided to go hunt an animal she’d spotted, despite having plenty of provisions. “Not very Jedi-like,” April muttered.
As she went, she pulled off the heaviest of her tunic layers and tied the remainder at her waist. She could feel the waterfall spray on her bare midriff, and it was incredible.
“Do you think that had a purpose,” April called back to Lora, who was talking with the agent April had drafted, “Other than giving her an excuse to show off her stomach?”
“I do not believe so,” Lora replied. “I will add it to the charge list.”
April felt a great deal of satisfaction when the Sue was attacked by the mother of the animal she was chasing and fell off a cliff. Unfortunately, the satisfaction faded as soon as the other Sue—Amabel—and Jade’s twu wub Obi-Wan rushed over and began showering her with concern. The sentimentality was sickening. April leaned against the nearest tree and closed her eyes, trying to imagine that her daemon was back on her shoulder where he belonged.
They’d been there for hours, and Moon was beginning to wonder if this was some trick to keep him out of the way while something unspeakable happened back in HQ. Then he remembered that he was supposed to not be paranoid on penalty of unpleasantness, so he tried not to think about it.
They were watching the Sues and Obi-Wan have what was supposed to be a sexually tense moment. At least, that was what April called it, and according to Lora, April had been an agent for a long time and knew what she was talking about. It was very boring, so Moon tried to keep himself busy (and un-paranoid) by asking Lora about the continuum.
“So, the fourth episode came first, then the third episode came last?”
“Precisely. Episodes five, six, one, and two came in between, in that order. They are colloquially referred to as the ‘first trilogy’ and ‘second trilogy,’ or occasionally the ‘old trilogy’ and ‘new trilogy,’ or the ‘original movies’ and the ‘prequels.’ Those of the opinion that the films deteriorated beginning with Episode One will refer to them as ‘the good ones’ and ‘the bad ones.’”
April, who had been watching the Words, interrupted their conversation. “Rapid scene change coming up,” she warned. “Brace for it.”
“What’s a—” There was a painful, wrenching feeling as their surroundings blurred. Moon fought the urge to throw up. “—rapid scene change?” he finished, as the interior of a ship materialized around them. Lora, before Moon could react, picked him up and hauled him back into the shadows. April pressed against the wall beside them.
Moon glanced at Lora and tried not to be suspicious. He was sure there were plenty of reasons for the Flowers to create and/or hire an android with super-strength besides the obvious “make a supersoldier and take over the world” plan. He just couldn’t think of any of these reasons at the moment. “Flowers are nice,” he reminded himself. “Flowers are not involved in any kind of conspiracy. They are nice.”
He glanced over at Lora again. The android was watching the two people in the cockpit, who were apparently meant to be the villains. Moon reached out with his right hand and—softly, so that maybe she wouldn’t notice—poked her in the arm. It was definitely metal, but it gave under his finger like skin would. Lora looked at him. “Agent Sonata, why are you poking me?”
Moon withdrew his hand and sat on it, trying to look innocent. “Um, I wasn’t. Really.”
Lora cocked her head, which made her look vaguely like a puppy dog. “Then what were you doing?”
Moon was saved from having to answer by another scene shift. The three agents were roughly deposited outside the cave where the Sues were staying. A supposedly dramatic confrontation was beginning.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" the blond spoke, pointing her lightsaber towards Magda.
“I think you know,” Magda said with a low growl, trying her best to appear intimidating despite her petite build. “Where’s the male?”
“None of your business,” Jade snarled back. Obi, stay back…
Obi-Wan heard this exchange take place from within the cave. He was itching to jump out after them and save the day. The hero in him could not be quenched, but still he heeded Jade’s warning.
“Lora, charge the Sues with calling Obi-Wan ‘Obi,’ making him act like a combination of an idiot and a wimp, and clichéd dialogue. Charge the villain with the dialogue, too.” April glared at the characters. “And pass me my CAD, will you?
Lora passed the device to April. Moon peered over April’s shoulder at the screen.
[Obi-Wan Kenobi. Human male (Jedi). Canon. OOC: 74.3333333% and riSING! SING A HAPPY KUMQUAT MR JELLY!] The device began to beep a tune that Lora identified as “The Song that Never Ends” until smoke began to leak out from behind the screen. April switched it off. “Chyort voz’mi!” she swore. “Lora, did you bring the second one?”
Lora shook her head. April started swearing again, in a language (or possibly several languages) that Moon couldn’t identify. She sat down on the nearest rock and viciously attacked the device with a screwdriver. “Go follow the Sues,” she said, waving her hand distractedly. “I’ll fix this and meet up with you.”
“She actually FIXES things when they blow up?” Moon asked Lora as they walked away. Several things had blown up while he was with Crispin and Maria, and their procedure had been to throw the broken things into a pile until they met someone who could take care of it. Moon had never seen them fix anything.
“April served for a short time in the Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology,” Lora explained. “She has been trained to repair commonly used equipment such as the Canon Analysis Device.”
“Huh.” Moon wondered how many of these technologically trained agents there were, and if the fact that April was partnered with an android was significant. Probably not. But conspiracy theories were nothing if not improbable.
She must rinse this all away
She can't hold him this way
She must rinse this all away
She can't love him this way
Moon covered his ears as the song boomed through the jungle. “What…is THAT?” he screamed at Lora over the music.
“The Suethor has chosen to complement her character’s internal climax with a song by an artist known as Vanessa Carlton,” said Lora. “I have added this instance of songfic to the charge list. I believe April had wished to kill this particular Sue before she turned to the Dark Side and became too difficult to eliminate. This would be the ideal moment.”
“Right.” Moon ignited his lightsaber. This would be his second kill, and this time he was going to do it by himself, with no psychotic ex-Agents in disguise to urge him on. “I’ll take care of her. You read the charges.”
Amabel strode through the woods and came out in the clearing around the temple, the heavy rain having already soaked her to the skin. Her thoughts were clouded with rage, betrayal, rejection, and hate.
“Okay, that’s enough.” Moon shouldn’t have stood a chance against someone who was actually trained with a lightsaber, but because the Sue’s “thoughts were clouded,” he managed to get the blade against Amabel’s throat before she could get to her own weapon.
“Amabel Fern,” Lora said, “By the authority given me by the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, I charge you with the following: misuse of a comma, gratuitous viewpoint shift, misuse of a comma, misspelling the word ‘sparring,’ gratuitous use of adjectival replacements for proper nouns, inconsistent capitalization, misspelling the word ‘sparring,’ misspelling the word ‘sparring’…”
“Lora?” Moon asked through gritted teeth as he struggled to keep the Sue from getting free. “Could you maybe just give us the highlights of the charge list?”
“Of course. Amabel Fern, you are charged with numerous spelling and grammar errors, dressing in a manner inappropriate for a Jedi, exhibiting behavior inappropriate for a Jedi, causing a character rupture in one Obi-Wan Kenobi, calling said Kenobi by an uncanonical nickname, using clichéd dialogue, inserting songs in places where they should not be, and being a Mary-Sue. For these crimes you are sentenced to death.”
Moon lopped the Sue’s head off before she had a chance to say any dramatic last words. “One Sue down, one Sue and three villains to go,” he said.
“…using clichéd dialogue, confusing ‘blond’ and ‘blonde’ among other grammatical mistakes, disturbing PPC Agents, and being accessories to Mary-Sues. For these crimes you are sentenced to death.”
Moon swung his lightsaber as Lora fired her phaser at the two lesser villains. The female fell immediately, smoking from various wounds before a final shot from Lora vaporized her altogether. The male had other plans. He started running, dodging Lora’s shots with surprising agility and staying out of range of Moon’s blade.
“Why wasn’t the Sue this hard to kill?” Moon asked, chasing after the smuggler.
Lora, who, being the not-a-supersoldier-of-any-kind android that she was, was several meters ahead of him, glanced back. “The Sue was distracted and outnumbered, while this one—”
There was a bang of moderate volume, and the villain fell to the ground, bleeding. He lay there for a moment, then there was another bang and his chest exploded. “Hab SoSlI’ Quch!” April shouted, brandishing a smoking revolver.
Moon stared at the hole where the male villain’s heart had been. “What was that?”
“Exploding silver bullets,” Lora said, sliding the revolver into her pocket. “My old partner was fond of them. I prefer something a bit more close-range, normally, but this does have its advantages. Did I miss anything interesting?”
Moon and Lora filled April in as they went to find the other Sue, who was off behaving inappropriately with Obi-Wan.
“My pretty Lion appears to be a tad undone,” Jade giggled. “Force, Obi, I feel so ridiculously lighthearted.”
“So do I,” he heaved, grinning openly. “It’s inexplicable. I’m having so much trouble concentrating and… All I can see is you. Your lovely face.”
“Oh, hwiiy ryakna,” April said, pointing the revolver at the couple. “You sound like Anakin. ‘Oh, who cares that I’m a Jedi? I’m a whiny lovestruck teenager!’ Lora, charges. The short version, please.”
“Jade Blood, you are charged with numerous spelling and grammar errors, dressing in a manner inappropriate for a Jedi, exhibiting behavior inappropriate for a Jedi, causing a character rupture in one Obi-Wan Kenobi, calling said Kenobi by several uncanonical nicknames, using clichéd dialogue, having a ridiculous name, contrived plot devices, annoying PPC Agents, and being a Mary-Sue. You are sentenced to death.”
“What?” the Sue sputtered. “Obi, save me!”
Had Obi-Wan been in character, he could have easily beaten all three of them (well, maybe not Lora) before April managed to shoot Jade, and probably deflected the bullet to boot, but thankfully for all involved, he wasn’t in character. Once again, there was a soft explosion as April’s bullet exploded in her victim’s chest. Lora guided Obi-Wan’s gaze to the neuralyzer, while Moon made sure the Sue was dead by attacking the corpse with his lightsaber.
“…having three apprentices, having black eyes, being a clichéd villain, creating the name ‘Darth Carnala,’ and being an accessory to a Mary-Sue. You are sentenced to death.”
“I am already dead,” the Sith ghost hissed and flashed his black eyes at them. He laughed as Moon tried to run him through with the lightsaber. “Mwa-ha—”
“Die again,” April growled, and hit him with a videocassette of Return of the Jedi. “You’re a ghost, fine. Then we’ll exorcise you. Aroint thee, spirit of clichéd villainy! Get behind me, Uncanon! The power of Lucas compels you!”
Moon took up the chant. He didn’t have anything canonical to hit the Sith with, so he just kept using his lightsaber. “Begone, spirit of…um, evil things! The power of Lucas compels you!” he shouted, wondering who ‘Lucas’ was. Some sort of deity?
“The power of LUCAS compels you!” With a last evil hiss, the ethereal villain vanished.
The fires of Mustafar burned a brief shade of urple as the agents heaved the four uncanonical corpses into it, before they returned to the normal orange. Moon watched the bodies sink into the lava and felt a great deal of satisfaction. That was fun.
“Thank you for your help, Agent Moon,” said April as she stepped through the portal into her Response Centre. The talking bird had returned, and was sitting on her shoulder.
“You’re welcome.” Moon walked through the portal, with Lora behind him. “It was interesting.”
There wasn’t really anything else to say, so Moon started for the door. Maria was probably done yelling at the Sunflower Official by now, and she and Crispin would be looking for him. Maybe he could find his way back to the Response Centre before they got there, and pretend he was there the whole time.
The Laws of Narrative Comedy being what they were, it took Moon three and a half hours to find the RC. This was partly due to the fact that every time someone said that he shouldn’t pay attention, he took it as some trick and paid attention all the more closely. Maria and Crispin were already in the Response Centre when he got there, and they didn’t look too pleased.
“What did you do?” asked Crispin.
Moon looked at him. “What?”
“We just got this.” Maria gestured with a small piece of paper. “What did you do to get yourself transferred already?”
“Transferred?” Moon echoed. He took the piece of paper from Maria. It had been chewed in one corner, probably by the singing razor.
[Attention: Agent Beethoven Sonata has been transferred to Response Centre #1701, effective immediately.]
As Moon saw it, there were two possibilities. Either April and Lora had requested him because of his performance in the mission, or this was all part of some elaborate plan. Being Moon, he decided it was the second.
“Well, I’d better get going.” The talking flowers were up to something, and the talking bird and the superpowered android were probably involved. If Moon wanted to find out what was going on, he would have to be in the thick of it.
Lora’s word count and additional statistics are courtesy of Microsoft Word.
“The Song That Never Ends” (sometimes called “The Song That Doesn’t End”) was originally composed by Norman Martin, damn him.
April’s first curse is Russian and comes from insultmonger.com. Be warned: I chose the mildest-sounding one. Most of them are NSFW.
“Rinse” is the property of Vanessa Carlton. It’s actually not a terrible song, which makes it all the worse to see it in a random burst of songfic.
April’s second curse is Klingon and comes from the Klingon Language Institute. The Klingons are from Star Trek and are the creation of Gene Roddenberry.
The exploding silver bullets, originally the property of April’s late partner, came from the continuum of Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor), by Sergei Lukyanenko. No relation to the Night Watch of Terry Pratchett.
April’s third curse is Romulan and comes from the Central Institute of the Romulan Language. The Romulans are from Star Trek and are the creation of Gene Roddenberry.