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01 August 2008 @ 09:45 pm
Mission: A Promise To Be Kept Part One  
Whoa, this one took awhile to get done. We first started working on this mission it was around February or so I think. And right now, it's August. So this took awhile. Such a long while. This was a cowrite between me, agenttrojie, and tea_fiend, who also served as beta.

Set in February so you know. Fills in minor plothole of how July, Library, and Trojie and Pads know each other. And any references to this mission in the mean time. It is quite huge.

________________

The afternoon was turning out to be a fairly quiet one for Floaters July and Library, if only for the fact that July had knocked herself out trying to repair the bunk bed she had found before Library had come along. While July had not yet given up on the idea of bunk beds in their Response Center, Library had generally consigned herself to the idea of a mattress firmly on the floor, which was why July was the one who was out cold, while Library was sitting near the console, reading sedately.

July being unconscious meant that, aside from the occasional conversation leaking in through the bed sheet that had been hung up to separate their Response Center from the rest of HQ (said conversations mostly consisting of phrases resembling “Oh GOD the colours on that thing!”), it was silent. A while ago their door and part of the wall had been destroyed by a trapped Mini-Balrog, which was why they had a bed sheet up there instead of a door. Even now July didn‘t especially want to talk about it, as it was completely her fault that it had happened in the first place.

Naturally, the Console decided that it was a good time to break the peace.

[BEEEEEEEEEEEEP]

A muffled noise came from July's general vicinity. “Ngh?”

“Yes, that was a mission.”

“Wha?”

“Um, Discworld,” Library said, hazarding a guess at what July had meant. “Death and an OC. I think it might be a Mary Sue.”

July propped herself up with her sledgehammer long enough to say, “Yaaay,” before she slumped to the floor again.

“Maybe we should get you to Medical first,” Library said thoughtfully.

“S’gud.”

Nearly an hour later, the two Agents began to walk back to their Response Center and impending mission. July was nursing her head.

“It was nice of them to fix up your concussion, wasn‘t it?” said Library.

“Yeah, so I can go and do a mission. Death and a Sue?” July groaned, and not from the residual headache. They continued their journey, Library carefully doing her best to not concentrate, and July just thinking as she normally did.

Futher down the corridor, two other Agents combined walking with bickering. "You are going to the cafeteria whether you like it or not, and you are going to consume substances that aren't nicotine or Bleeprin. Or else."

"I don't need food. I need mind-altering substances. Give me back my Bleeprin."

"There may be toast," Trojie cajoled, unwisely letting go of Pads for long enough for her to transform and career down the corridor in a desperate bid to escape and maybe find the Fountain of Bleepka.

Trojie ran after her, straight into July and Library, who were not best pleased.

"Owww..." July said, bowled over on the floor. "Where'd you come from?" she asked, as she stood up. Library had been close enough to the wall that she had only been pushed into it, while July had been run into at full tilt by a hefty and extremely slobbery dog.

Pads abruptly transformed again. "Well," she began. "When two men, women, or other humanoids of indeterminate gender are very much in love-"

Trojie kicked her. "We came from the Department of Bad Slash. As if you couldn't guess from that. Where did you come from?"

"Medical," July said.

"My partner gave herself a concussion," Library added.

"That's not something you tell random people who just ran into you," July complained. "And now that I'm standing up, and I'm not being run into or drowned in dribble, I think we'll be going this way," July pointed the way they had come from, "so we can get to our Response Center and take care of this stupid Discworld Sue mission we'd just gotten before I had to go to Medical. So, bye now!" July grabbed her partner's hand and began to drag Library along the Generic Corridors with her.

"Got, not gotten," said Pads, in a reflexive sort of way. And then, "Discworld Sue?"

"I'm allowed to use vernacular if I want," July muttered, the grammar Nazi behind her having caught her attention. "And yah, a Discworld Sue," she said, wincing. Pads mirrored the wince at the so-called vernacular of 'yah'.

"Death and an OC," Library clarified. She had managed to slip July's grip when the other Agents had stopped. She looked at the two Bad Slashers. "Did I say something wrong?"

"Is this Elizabeth Shaul?" Pads asked, a murderous glint appearing in her eyes.

"I don't know," Library said truthfully. "I didn't see the name."

"If it is, I've got a very big weapon with her name on it. There may be blood involved. And screaming. And giggling, on my part."

"Pads...? Didn't we talk about this?" Agent Trojanhorse did her best to placate her new partner, or at least distract her until the Discworld Sue was not so prominent in day-to-day life.

"If we talked and no violent death was involved, I wasn't listening." Agent Paddlebrains shoved Agent Trojanhorse, effectively removing her from several lines of conversation. "So, can we kill her? Preferably with prejudice of the extreme variety? I can sing comically if you want. Or do any sort of dance. Anything, really. Please, let me be there. She hurts us, precious!"

July and Library eyed Pads skeptically.

"I dunno," July said. "Who're you? You run into me and drool on me, and now you're asking to come along on our mission and you haven't even introduced yourself yet," the Floater said, eyeing the more violent Bad Slasher.

"'M Paddlebrains," the Bad Slasher said, twirling. "She thinks she owns me brain, but-" Agent Trojanhorse fell to the floor, while Paddlebrains pulled a face that suggested some mental contortion. "Well, she seems to be unconscious."

"Aaah," July said, backing away a few feet. If she had looked behind her, she would have noticed that Library had been doing this the entire time. Anyone watching could have seen that Library was the Agent with more survival skills, between the two of them. After all, Agent July was still recognizing Paddlebrains's existence.

"'She' doesn't tell me who your partner is," July said, finally.

"She's Trojanhorse. Trojie. She'll come round in a mo'. So, Discworld 'Sue?" Paddlebrains assumed a pleading puppydog face that was worryingly accurate, given that she also smelled of dog. July sighed. It did not look like they were shaking the red-headed Agent and her unconscious - no, starting to come round now - partner. The Floater, therefore, as no more practical solutions appeared to be presenting themselves, led the way down the corridor, with no actual idea of whether it was the technically right direction or not. They'd end up at the appropriate response center regardless. Hopefully.

"Did you just knock me out with the power of your mind?" Trojie asked Pads groggily.

"Maybe."

"We have got to do something about this brain-sharing. The excuse 'great minds think alike' is getting old."

There was further silence as Pads tried to think of a more creative excuse for her and her partner's curious mental connection, and July and Library tried to puzzle out what their uninvited tag-alongs meant by brain-sharing.

"Y'know, the manual says that we're not supposed to take other Agents with us on missions," July said hopefully.

"Doesn't mean anything," Pads replied, with her usual blatant disregard for any and all rules.

"It probably would, if the Flowers find out," Library mused. For a while no one said anything.

"How would they find out?"

"Could tell them, for one," July muttered.

They reached their response center and went inside. Behind them, Pads whimpered at the sight of the makeshift divider, before turning into a dog and doing her best to hide behind Trojie.

Trojie only gave the bedsheet a brief look as she entered. "Where on earth did you get that?"

"We were in need of something, since we didn't have a door," Library explained, mildly.

"Choice was to either use that there, or sleep under it." July's eye twitched slightly.

"Well I was going to ask why you don't seem to have an RC number, but with that thing up there..."

"You'd struggle to miss this place," July agreed.

Pads turned back to human as she looked around the Floaters' Response Center with interest, keeping her back to the evil bedsheet of Sue colors at all times. "Can I smoke?" she wanted to know.

"Is there any chance of me stopping you?"

Pads already had the cigarette lit. "None at all," she said, taking a drag.

"Thought so." July went over to the Console. "Now that's just wrong, plain wrong," she said, turning her attention to the business at hand and reading the summary. "Death and romance just doesn't work."

She got shoved over to the side by Pads. "So it is Elizabeth Shaul!" the Animagus Agent cried, fortunately blocking out Trojie's mutterings about necrophilia.

July shoved Pads back away from the Console. "Can you stop doing that? And how the hell do you know about her anyways? We didn't know until we got the stupid mission."

"I know all and see all!" Pads cackled as she shoved July again.

"She keeps an eye on Disc fic that involves Death," Trojie handily explained. She peered at July's flaming snotball, brought back as a souvenir from a Doom fic.

"What's that, and where do I get one?"

"That's a flaming snotball." Library didn't bother to disguise the slight disgust she held for it.

"Can we take it with us?"

"No," Library said, in the same warning tone she used when July was preparing to ask to do something stupid.

July eyed the Console's disguise functions. "Uh, do either of you know how to work it?" She had a sheepish look on her face, partially from admitting that she didn‘t know how to work the disguise generator, and partially because she had just knocked Pads to the ground with her last shove, where the redhead was currently in a fine position to admire the ceiling.

“What, you don‘t know how to work the disguise generator?” Trojie asked, distracted from the flaming snotball for the moment.

“No, never learned how. Figured out the rest of it though,” she added. "Does Paddlebrains know how to use it?"

"Trojie hasn't taught me Disguises yet," Pads said, from the ground. Trojie nodded.

"We're still working on her 'beating her way through and leaving a trail of maimed corpses in her wake' tactics."

"Does that happen a lot in Bad Slash?" July asked.

"In theory, no," Trojie said, heading for the Console and pressing a few buttons with the air of someone who knew what she was doing. “You‘ve been here how long and you haven‘t learned how to use it?”

“Three, four months. I think. Could be more or less. Probably less. And no one's shown me anything. We've been relying mostly on this,” July said, as she showed Trojie the ratty manual.

Trojie grabbed at it, now distracted from the Console, and quickly looked through it. “How did you get hold of this? This is old. The current manual is several times the size of this thing. And in more volumes.”

“Knocked me on the head,” July answered. “It fell out from under the mattress of the bottom bunk bed when I was moving it into the room.”

“Neat, can I keep it?”

July quickly snatched it back possessively from the Bad Slasher. “No. Mine!”

Paddlebrains sprang upright again. “It‘s taking too long! I want to kill her. Now!”

Setting the disguises took some time due to general squabbling ( “Auditors?” “NO!” “Assassins?” “Now you‘re just being meta.” “What‘s that supposed to mean?” “City Watch!” “Ooh, yeah, let‘s be Watchmen!” “What?” “It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t take place in Ankh-Morpork!" “So?” ) and showing July and Library how to operate the disguise generator, until Trojie, winning the argument by way of being the only Agent with the ability to actually set the disguises, decreed that they would all be Watchmen.

Finally, it was time to portal into the fic.

July grabbed her sledgehammer and began to shove the various equipment into her bag once more. "CAD, other CAD, neuralyzer, remote activator, hey, what're you trying to shove in?" she asked, looking askance at Trojie.

"The DORKS," Pads said.

"The what?"

Pads came over and shoved a few Discworld books that she had grabbed from the Floaters' bookpile into the bag as well. "That's the thingy that allows us to change disguises in the fic," she explained.

"Oh. I've been wondering what some of this stuff was." July returned to listing what she was stuffing into the backpack. "Notebook, pens, ah, anything else we need?"

"Chocolate," Trojie prompted. As there was no chocolate nearby, none went into the bag.

"And cigarettes." Pads produced multiple pouches of tobacco and dumped them near the bag.

"No, I'm not putting cigarettes in my backpack," July said, somewhat outraged. "I don't want it smelling like tobacco."

"But people always smoke dirty roll-ups in Discworld! They're allowed!"

"Take them, then, but don't put them in my bag!"

"But I can't carry all of them," Paddlebrains whined. "They make my pockets all lumpy." She indicated the outlines of multiple further pouches of tobacco.

"Then don't chainsmoke," July told the Bad Slasher.

"That's the only way I know how!"

Trojie looked at her partner. "You went back to our Response Center?"

"Yes, while you were bickering about the disguises."

"And you brought your tobacco, but you forgot my Bag?"

"Smokes are more important."

"The Bag would enable you to carry your cigarettes..."

Pads began to make for the doorway, but July had closed her bag up and had already begun to open the portal.

"If you leave now, you don't come," July said, hoping that Pads would leave, preferably with Trojie.

The Bad Slasher ran over to the now-open portal. "Pockets it is then," she said.

"At least you'll be well-padded if you fall over," Trojie told her.
__________
The Floaters looked around their currently blank surroundings. "Heh. Seems I set it to the very beginning," July said. The Author's Note boomed over them.

I don’t think I can be satisfied unless am completely swamped with fics and people are yelling at me over half of them.

"I'll give you yelling!" Pads spluttered, mid smoke. "You don't do anything to Death without me knowing!"

"Is she going to be like this the entire time?" Library asked, over Pads's ranting to the author note.

"Just about. Unless we knock her out."

July hefted her sledgehammer thoughtfully.

"July, no."

"Awww..."

"If you do it, you get to drag her along," Trojie warned.

July loosened her grip on the sledgehammer and put it back down. "You both are no- ACK!" She jumped.

A brief blast of music hit the four of them, and then soon ended.

"What was that?" Pads asked, distracted from her rant.

"Uh, Modest Mouse, I think."

"That's going to get annoying quickly."

"Hand me the notebook and a pen, July," said Library.

July did so. "So it's a charge?"

"Yes, it's a charge."

Paddlebrains grabbed at the backpack and dug for the remote activator.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

"It's taking too long! I cannot suffer this Sue to live!" The mad redhead opened a portal and dove through it.

"Hey! It's OUR mission! Not yours!" July complained, also diving for the portal. Having not much in the way of other choices, their partners followed as well.
________________

The Agents ended up in Death's office just as Albert came through the doorway.

"What? Albert'd never be in here! He avoids i- Mfgh!"

"Shut up," July hissed. "The way you're being, they're gonna notice us!" She had stuffed the corner of manual into the noisy Bad Slasher's mouth.

"Ugh!" Pads spat out the manual, and July promptly snatched it back, avoiding the damp corner. "That thing tastes of death."

"Will you both stop?" Library asked. "It's getting very annoying hearing you bicker, and if you plan on keeping on, then Trojanhorse and I will have to finish it up and send you two back."

"Sounds like a grand idea," Trojie commented. The veteran Agent had separated herself from the now three-way battle by attempting to pick up every single thing in the room. Since all the items in the room were still acting canonically, this did not work, though it hadn't discouraged her at all.

"'Kay," July said. "She was still being too loud though," she said again.

"Mission. No arguing."

They returned their attention to the canons.

YOU KNOW YOU DON’T REALLY NEED THOSE THINGS ALBERT…IT’S NOT AS IF FOOD IS A NECESSITY HERE.

“I know…only…its habit see. I’ve been eating all my life.” Death stared at him for a moment. He had a very good stare.


"Damn right, he does."

"We're supposed to be charging, not MSTing!"

"Does it really matter?"

"Riffing makes it take longer!"

"You've got a point, there."

I NEED TO GO DOWN ANYWAYS. I SUPPOSE I CAN PICK UP YOUR EGGS IF YOU LIKE.

"Death does NOT say 'anyways'! No! He doesn't! This writer needs to learn a lesson-" Pads lifted the remote activator to open another portal, but it was snatched away by Library before she had a chance to do so.

"Then we can add it to the charges instead of attacking someone."

"Reasonable people are no fun."

"Hang on, did the scene jus-"

XXX

The Agents were heaved about with the scene change, and to Trojie's great amusement, Pads landed on top of July.

"Just because we're in Bad Slash doesn't mean we have to go Luxury-ing everyone, Pads." Trojie attempted to haul her partner up, but backed off when the flailing July kicked her, whether by accident or design she didn't know. "Unless of course the victim is enjoying it," she added pointedly, nursing her bruised ankle.

It didn't take very long for July to shove Pads off her and dust herself off, glaring at Trojie all the while.

"All those ellipses hurt my head," Pads complained as she read the Words.

"Only thing hurting your head is gonna be me," July muttered.

Pads changed track again, watching Death try to buy eggs. "He's trying to cheat death!"

"Don't be silly, Pads," Trojie said, as she began to scoop up eggs. "Even this Suethor should know you can't cheat Death."

"And she keeps leaving out the full stops on the ends of his lines!"

"I thought that was actually kind of funny sin- HEY! NO EGGS IN THE BACKPACK!"

Trojie did not bother to look guilty, partially because she wasn't, and partially because another scene change heaved them into a field.

"Hate scene shifts, I really do."

"I see her!" Paddlebrains pointed towards the nearby house, just as the Sue went inside. "Let's just kill her now before she does anything else to Death; now let me borrow that sle-"

"No, mine." July held her sledgehammer possessively. "And we need charges first."

"Annoying the Agents," Pads suggested as she lit up another deathstick. "And then we kill her for it!"

"That's not an official charge."

"There can always be a first time." She exhaled smoke in July's direction.

"Let's not, Pads," Trojie said. "That would get Upstairs involved."

"And?"

"That would be bad."

"Pshaw." Pads was dismissive. "We risk their wrath all the time. Remember the Quest for the Sentient Cannabis Plant? And then there was the whole incident with the gravy and the lightsabres..."

"And look at what a disaster that was!"

"Hey, we got high, didn't we?"

"On Glodstoppers, yes! It was not my idea of a good time! It took them three days to coax you out from under that desk!"

"The skateboarding spiders were pretty cool though. Did we ever find out what was in that stuff?"

"Bleach, datura, Romulan ale and Slab," Trojie answered promptly.

"Ladies!" Library interrupted. "If we could get on?"

As one, the agents turned to stare balefully at the girl on the porch.

"Looks pretty vacant."

"Mm. 'Sues are generally a bit perkier than this."

"She's 'earthy', apparently," Library supplied.

"What, like... some weird subspecies of troll?" Trojie suggested, lurching only slightly in response to an unwarranted tense shift.

"Her hair's pretty filthy," said Pads. "What say we drown her in the bath?"

"Do you want to bathe her?" Library pointed out. "Charging for spending too long describing how plain she is, as well as creating hreen."

July paused. "Hang on, hreen?"

"Hazel slash green," Library said.

"What about grazel instead?" Trojie asked.

"That makes me think of gazelles."

"Deer is good. Wait, gazelles count as deer, right?"

"Gazelles are antelopes, not deer. Completely different kind of cervid."

"Thank you for the biology lesson."

"Well, she's leaving for town now anyway."

"Wherever said town is. She could have at least had the decency to put her Sue in a canon location," Trojie grumbled, despite the fact that she had stuffed a tuft of long grass into her shirt and was scouting around for more botanical objects to filch.

Trojie peered at the Words. "How many kilometres make up five miles?"

"Uh, I think a kilometer is a bit more than a mile, but much less than one and a half..." July attempted poor arithmetic on her fingers. "Eight to nine kilometers, I guess?"

"Your maths is beyond spasticated," Pads observed. "Also apparently reversed."

"I'm awful at math, give me a break."

"It takes about fifteen minutes to walk a kilometre if it's flat ground," Trojie said. "Can you do the maths for that?"

"I'm not bothering to do that math, too. Charge, then?"

"It's maths. With an 's'. Also, it's r-e, not e-r. It's also eight point oh four kilometres, and a twenty minute mile is fairly standard unless you're in a hurry," Pads pointed out. "Honestly, how do you people travel?"

"I'm American, damnit. Don't britpick American English that's supposed to be American English. And stop reading what I say."

"Can't help it. Force of habit. Sorry." Pads had the decency to look sheepish, but only a little bit.

"I'm really not up for a two hour walk, so let's just portal into town." Library said, trying to prevent July and Paddlebrains from starting up another fight. "We can just read what happens in the between time while we wait."

The wait in town for Shaul to get there, and then to do whatever shopping she had planned, largely consisted of the two younger Agents listening to Pads criticising Elizabeth Shaul and keeping Trojie away from the various shinies, noncanonical as they were.

"Oh, don't forget to put this town down for a charge," July remembered.

"I already wrote it down before we portalled here."

"Do we get to burn the town before we charge her?"

"Pads, we're Bad Slash, and they're Floaters. This isn't a DOGA mission. It's just a Sue."

"After, then?"

"No, it should be gone by then."

"But I like to burn things!"

"She really does, you know," said Trojie longsufferingly. "Be glad she hasn't pulled out the landmines yet."

Library looked up from the book she had pulled out. "Landmines are hardly canonical."

"But they explode so prettily. Wait, she's finally here!" Pads said, spotting the Sue. "Can we kill her now?"

"Not yet! There're still more charges we have to take."

"...How many do we have?"

"At least eight."

"That's it?"

"Yes, now quiet, she's coming over here!"

The Sue looked over a piece of paper she was holding.

Now she just needed to get it home. Five miles on foot was one thing. Five miles on foot with a ten-pound sack over one shoulder got a bit more complicated.

"She's more spasticated than your skill at maths. It's walking, it's about as complicated as cheese!"

"Actually, cheese is quite complicated, there's all kinds of important chemistry that goes on with the fermentation, and then making sure the right kind of mould takes hold, making sure you use vegetarian rennet if you want fancy vegans to buy it, and then copyright issues with names-" Trojie's gentle lecture was cut off by Pads clamping a hand over her mouth.

“Damn, shouldn’t have sold the horse.”

"Should've et it instead," Pads said, lighting one dog-eared roll-up from the remains of the last.

"There's good eating on a horse," Trojie agreed, nodding, as Library assumed a faintly nauseated expression.

The Sue was accosted and somewhat harassed by a man that she was far too superior to actually recognize, despite the fact that she apparently had known him in her childhood. He hinted that his son would be interested in the Sue, despite the long descriptions of how not-attractive she was. When the man lit a foul smelling cigarette, it took two of them to restrain Pads.

Following the Sue, they nearly passed the stall she had gone around, but Trojie stopped to look at what was being sold. "What's 'something green and suspicious looking'?" she asked.

"It looks a lot like that meat that was being served in the cafeteria last week," Pads said, poking at it. She sniffed. "Smells like it, too."

"Totally rotten. But I think we just found out that the cafeteria is partially supplied by Discworld markets." Trojie looked gleeful. "Only thing that could explain that level of 'quality' food."

July blinked. "Wait, that was rotten meat? I thought it was wilted cabbage or something. I thought it tasted funny."

"You ate it?" Library looked ill.

"It was lunchtime; it was on my plate. It was not moving or attacking me. It did not say 'help me' or 'don't eat me' in a tiny voice. It was not made of metal or plastic or anything else non-organic. Of course I ate it."

"Just because it's organic doesn't mean it's edible!"

"We're ignoring the Sue, hurry up. We can talk about what's edible later."

Pads had a strained expression as she stared at the Sue and Death. It likely had to do with the fact that she was being held back by Trojie and Library. "She just ran into Death! Please, let me at her!"

"It's not a crime to run into Death. Just a charge, since it shouldn't have happened at all."

She looked up again to discourage him from doing so and frowned. Something was bothering her about him. As an artist she relied quite a bit on her eyes…but it was extremely hard to focus on him. Not to mention, she was certain she’d never seen him before (Because she’d never seen someone she couldn’t really see before)

"Redundancy upon redundancy! Stop stating the obvious!" Pads stole the charge list and added to it.

"You're doing the same thing," Library told her.

"Because I'm bloody furious!"

"That's obvious too," July snickered. "Wait, how'd her bag get ripped?"

"The bloke tore it with a knife."

"Really?" She read the Words quickly and then frowned. "Huh, guess I missed that when we were near that stall."

"And there he is again."

"Sexual harassment, Disc-style," said Trojie with a heaped spoonful of sarcasm."Get in my cart, miss, hur hur." She leered.

"How many times do I have to tell you to stop channeling badficcers?" asked Pads, still scribbling furiously.

"Obviously, more times than that," Library said. "Now stop talking and keep watching; there's still plenty of this thing still to go."

"Death is interfering in the harassment. Is that canonical?"

"It could be, but it seems terribly unlikely that he'd make himself so visible to people while not having one of his Little Fancies," said Pads.

July, meanwhile, was doing her best not to laugh.

"What do you find so funny?"

"It's like she decided to model this whole scene off an old western!" July keeled over laughing. The laughing abruptly stopped as the pushy bit-character effectively assaulted Shaul and was told 'THE LADY SAID NO.' by Death.

"What in the name of all that's holy...?"

"Did I miss something? Why is Death suddenly Mal Reynolds?" asked Trojie.

"You're hallucinating. He's obviously Clint Eastwood."

"I think more Indiana Jones," said Library pensively, causing the others to wonder how on earth she'd come across that bit of pop culture.

"I'm amazed he didn't call her a 'little' lady, and swing her across his saddle," said Pads, waving at the scene in front of them, where Death was offering to help the Sue home with her groceries. After a scene break, there was horse-ogling, which three of the Agents watched with disdain, and Trojie agreed with.

"He really is the most gorgeous thing," the Bad Slasher said, ducking to avoid projectiles being thrown by her colleagues. "What? I appreciate Binky!"

"Yes, but you're agreeing with a Sue," said July. "You won't like being exorcised, so stop it."

"Is it just me," mused Library, "or is the Sue's deep and abiding desire to draw everything a little grating?"

"Yeah, I'd much rather she just braided her hair or sang dodgy emo songs," Pads said, taking a calming drag on her cigarette. "You know, normal Sue things."

"That's normal?" July blinked. "Last one we got liked pranks. And Sirius Black. But with rival love lust," she said in a disgusted voice. "I don't even get why they like him, y'know?" July turned towards the Sue again, just in time to miss an interesting expression on Pads's face. Death was helping the Sue up onto his horse.

The Sue, Death and Binky disappeared in a blur. The Agents stared at the blurred area.

"Well," Library said, finally. "I think we should probably move on, right?"

There was another brief fight over the Remote Activator, until Trojie took it out of the hands of her wild partner and opened the portal to the Sue's home, and they arrived at the same time as the Sue and Death did.

SEE, NO TIME AT ALL.

Pads nearly yelled. "Cheating!"

"That's not cheating, it's canonical." Library once again tried reason.

"It's a Sue, it's cheating." The Animagus stood her ground.

"Fine, it's cheating, then." The youngest Agent of the group added it to the growing charge list to placate Pads's anger.

The Sue asked for Death's name. “Um…thanks…what did you say your name was?”

"He didn't!" Pads muttered, just as Death told her he hadn't.

“Er…I suppose what I meant was; what is your name?” Death watched her for a moment.

I…WAS ONCE CALLED BILL DOOR…

“Bill Door?” She smiled a little. “Sounds made up.”

DOES IT?


From their spot away from the Sue and Death, July shook her head side to side. "Yeah, it does."

Pads apparently did not agree. "What do you mean it does?"

"Of course it sounds kinda fake. What are ya, nuts?"

"Yes, she is," Trojie answered.

"It doesn't sound fake."

"It does, but that's not the point anymore."

"We had a point?"

"When?"

"What was it?"

"I don't remember!"

Library, lost in the maelstrom of creative confusion caused by the PPC Disc-fan Brains Trust, was the only one to witness Death ask for the Sue's name, and her squeak of incredulity was lost amongst the confusion of riffing. She noted down the charges of 'making Death, when functioning (to all intents and purposes) in his usual manner, pay specific attention to a living and not even mortally wounded human' and 'using Death as an exposition device to reveal that the Sue is orphaned' and 'making Death care about the Sue being orphaned'. After a moment's thought, she added 'Death not knowing any particular mortal's name'.

"When do I get to kiiiiill her?" Pads pouted. Trojie inexplicably began sniggering.

"What are you laughing at?" July growled, patience tried beyond measure. Trojie indicated a sentence.

YOU SAID YOU NEEDED MONEY?

"So?" asked July and Library in unison.

"Does the implication that Death wishes to 'engage her services' not make either of you even crack a smile?"

"Should it?" Library asked. Next to her, July had finally got what the Bad Slash Agent was trying to get across and was once again laughing.

"We need to get you out of this Department," said Pads, distracted from OOC Death by her partner just for a little while. "Someone offering someone else money does not imply prostitution."

"... Well-" But what Trojie was about to say would never be revealed, because Death had just made what was to the PPC agents an extremely indecent proposal to the Sue:

I’VE BEEN MEANING TO HIRE SOMEONE TO DO…CERTAIN THINGS AROUND MY HOUSE. I HAVE A SERVANT BUT I THINK PERHAPS A MORE… ORDINARY INFLUENCE IS NEEDED.

July quickly straightened up and her left eye twitched slightly. "Eugh."

Library looked at her partner. "Eugh? What for?"

"Albert/Death."

The other three thought about it for a moment. "I've seen worse," Trojie said. "And let's not invoke Rule 34."

"Too late."

"If I end up hearing about an Albert/Death fic, I'll know who to blame."

“I’ll…think about it…um…it’s getting dark…I’m going to go in.” She said.

VERY WELL, I SHALL STOP BY SOME OTHER TIME TO RECIEVE YOUR ANSWER. HAVE A NICE EVENING MISS SHAUL.


It was at about this point that Pads had to be forcibly restrained once more and then sat upon by her three colleagues in an attempt to prevent her from disemboweling the Sue with teeth and claws. However, the start of the next chapter involved music, using the term very loosely, by the White Stripes, and so the tables were suddenly turned as Pads and the two Floaters had to grab for Trojie, who was in turn grabbing with snarls of rage for the Sue, and nearly got lost in a temporal-spatial distortion, as they suddenly and with very little ceremony ended up in some kind of unspecified office.

"Oh look," said Library, reaching once more for the chargelist and pen. "Exposition."

They listened carefully, with only the sound of Library writing to interrupt, as two bit-characters, whose roles and identities were only vaguely explained, exposited about the Sue. Apparently her father was Martin Shaul, who owned lots of lovely land from an uncanonical river (the Harkenville, apparently) to a completely unspecified ravine 'by' the Ramptops.

"Something can't be 'by' a mountain range," said July. "It makes no sense whatsoever."

"About as much sense as 'second star to the left and straight on til morning', you mean?" asked Pads.

"About as much," agreed July affably, before realizing that she was agreeing with the Bad Slasher responsible for most of her current injuries, and glaring again. However, by this time the OCs had got to a line that again had Trojie spluttering with laughter.

“Ah…I see. Nothing like several acres of land to make a perfectly ordinary girl seem quite easy on the eyes, eh?”

"Now why are you cackling, you mad woman?"

"'What's wrong with her? She's beautiful, she's rich, she's got huge... tracts of land,'" Trojie managed to get out between gulps for breath and insane giggles. Which stopped when she looked around and realised that the other three were giving her award-winning Blank Looks. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," she sighed. "It's funny, trust me. But not a decent plot device. Charge for making ridiculous Pythonesque plot points in an apparently serious story."

"Done," said Library, flourishing the pen.

Then the characters lamely finished with the father asking the other one for help, a short and pointless haggle over an unspecified reward, and then an 'oh, I haven't actually got a plan. Bye!'

"That was lame," said July. "I've seen three-legged dogs less lame than that."

"Pointless would have been my word of choice," said Library.

"If you can't come up with a decent reason to let out details about your character," said Pads, "then you shouldn't be writing."

July looked at the Words for a moment. "Remote Activator now please! Before the scene shift this time!" She looked alarmed at the prospect of being tossed around again.

There was a short and frantic search for the Remote Activator before it was found (inexplicably stuffed up Trojie's sleeve with some crumpled litter and a hat of mysterious origin), and the Agents portalled past the scene break.

Trojie and July stared at the sky. "Buwah," July articulated.

Library looked at her partner. "What is it?"

July wordlessly pointed up, to where the sun rose with a sheaf of paper in her arms.

Library sighed. "And a count of poor phrasing..."

"A comma would have solved that," Pads commented.

After a few minutes of gaping, mostly on July's part, the Agents once again settled down in the grassy field to watch the Sue be boring.

"I'm starting to be irritated by her narrative voice," said Pads. "She's like a cheap knockoff of Pratchett."

"She's like the Korean imitation product where the seams give out if you poke too hard," agreed Trojie. "I mean seriously - (She had decided not to name it on the grounds that he wasn’t really her cat…he was his own cat) - WTF is that about?"

"That's about 'ooh, ooh, I'm so obsessed with Pratchett I can even write like him!'" said July wryly. "It's really not working."

"Gee, d'you think?"

"What are we going to do about the cat?" Library asked, dutifully noting on the chargelist that the narrative voice of the author was a cheap Korean knockoff of Pratchett. "It's technically a CAF, and she's using it as an exposition device to show how Pratchettian and ordinary she is."

"I'll take it," said Pads offhandedly.

"You're not going to chase it, are you?"

"What the - no. Of course not, you spack. I happen to like cats. And Disc cats rock."

"I have no objections," piped up Trojie.

"We didn't expect you would, Miss Klepto. I'm amazed you haven't tried to stuff the poor creature down your shirt," said July. Trojie pouted.

Library was peering at the Sue's attempts at sketching things. "She really has only the most rudimentary idea of perspective, you know," she said critically. "And her colouring is terrible."

"And I'm sick of descriptions like this," said July, waving at the Words:

Most of the time Elizabeth was an average artist. She wasn’t bad, but most of the things she created weren’t particularly masterpieces.

"So bad she's speshul."

"It's like she's wearing a neon sign saying 'My character isn't a Sue, honest!'"

"Fail."

"Yeah, major fail."

"Shh, it gets worse!"

Occasionally, however, she managed to do something very well. This was because of what her father once called her selective photographic memory. (Or on the Disc, Iconographic memory)

"So why didn't you just say 'iconographic', you Fourth-Wall-breaking-syphilitic Easterling hooker?"

"Can we please stop riffing? It's just prolonging the misery."

"Sorry."

July picked up a few pebbles around the area they were sitting, and weighed them in her hands.

Library gave her partner a look. "July, what are you doing?"

"Nooothing." July tossed a pebble at the Sue. Unfortunately, she missed by several feet. It did, however, catch the cat's attention, which pounced at the thrown rock.

"You have horrible aim," Library told her.

Pads agreed. "She does, doesn't she?"

"Pass me some pebbles," Trojie said.

July responded by throwing the pebbles at the Bad Slash Agent's head.

Trojie successfully caught the pebbles and then started to chuck them at the Sue as well. All but a few hit their target, the rest further interesting the cat. "Hah."

After some more funtime involving throwing rocks at the Sue (which had become progressively larger and sharper by the time the Sue decided to leave), the Agents noticed the weather turning for the worse.

July looked up at the clouds. "Eh, we should probably portal so-"

And everyone was slammed into the mud as the scene changed once more.

The first one to sit up and get up from the mud was July. "Aagh! I JUST DID LAUND-"

Trojie, Pads, and Library slammed her into the mud once more before the Sue noticed the raging Agent.

"Shut up, do you want her to hear you?" Library hissed, once they let July up from the ground.

July spat some mud and grass out of her mouth. "Yes! I do! The laundry rooms are impossible to find and it isn't like the mud is going to disappear with the disguises and I want her to hear me tell her how stupid she is!"

Trojie wrung mud and water from her hair. "It's not that bad," she said.

"Yes it is," July continued to complain. "I don't like mud. I don't like being covered in it and I don't wanna be in mud encrusted clothing when it dries -especially when some of it is armor! - and-"

Her list of complaints was cut off by a mudball to the face that came from Pads's direction.

Library and Trojie mostly ignored the ensuing mudball fight behind them and focused on the mission.

"Oh, Binky," Trojie said fondly, as the Sue noticed a horse in her front yard.

Elizabeth stopped dead. Death generally did that to people…only usually in a different way…more literally for a start.


"Be more literal," Library whispered, quiet enough that Trojie didn't hear, since the woman was wrapped up with adoring Binky. She marked down the overuse of ellipses once more on the charge list.

"Is it just me, or is there some serious stating of the obvious going on here?" asked Pads.

"It's not just you. 'he turned towards her.' and 'She realized suddenly that it was still raining.' ... ugh. I'm BORED," said July, swinging her sledgehammer menacingly.

"You know," said Library conversationally, "I think she's missed the point of how Death speaks. The speech patterns are there, but ... he sounds incredibly stupid."

"Hence my problem with her!" said Pads. She nudged Trojie. "Right Trojie? Trojie? OI!" She elbowed her partner. "Will you stop ogling the horse, please?"

"...I wonder if I could get my hands on just one horseshoe... What? Oh, right. Sorry."

"HOLY MOTHER OF GOD AND ALL HER LITTLE CAMELS!"

"July?"

"Death wants her as an INTERIOR DECORATOR!"

"What? When?"

"Middle of chapter three!"

There was a pause and then, "And she's stealing Mort's lines!" Pads howled.

"And she's describing his house all wrong! It was a cottage! Not 'A country house, for a gentleman, with roses, dark purple/black roses growing perfectly up the side by the door. And on the front, great big windows…with a view of nothing apparent from inside.'"

"And now she's making him take her back ... and ... she's CHANGED HER MIND AGAIN!"

"You do NOT screw Death around like this! He's definite! By nature! ARGH!"

Pads and July shared a glance and threw themselves at the Sue - just as the scene ended.

"Ow..." July slowly stood up, bits of drying mud crumbling off. "...Did everything just go grey?"

"It's a flashback," Trojie said, as she pulled her partner up.

"Right." July looked around. In the flashback, the Sue was talking to her father. "So. This looks like it's going to be another bo-"

July was interrupted by Pads leaping at her and seizing the Remote Activator.

Before either Floater could react, the newest Bad Slasher dragged her veteran partner through a portal with her.

July gaped at the space where the portal had been moments ago. "We were not just abandoned."

"It looks like we were."

"Oh hell."
________________

Part Two
 
 
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