AN: This fic contains spoilers for At World's End, Necromancy, Thicker than Water, and Ties that Bind, if you care. But hey, if it gets you interested in those stories…
The Great Mary Sue Hunt
The four teenagers (well, three teenagers and one four-century old monster who just looked like a teenager) sat in front of the man's desk.
"Hello, my name is Browne, and I'll be acting as your author avatar today," Browne said.
"Weren't you the main villain in At World's End?" Kyo asked.
"What's your point? All my OCs are antagonists," Browne said.
"I'm not an antagonist," Don James said.
"Yeah, and there's a reason you died in the same chapter you were introduced in," Browne countered.
"I'm not an antagonist," Kyo said.
"You brought Kagura and Naraku back from the dead, at least one of them on purpose," Alex Gentry said.
"Hey, you tried to kill Danny Phantom," Kyo retorted.
"You tried to kill InuYasha!"
"It was an automatic reaction—he attacked Kagura."
"Children, hush," Browne said. "I don't suppose you're going to complain, too, Hiroshi?"
"Oh, no, I'm a villain alright, according to your quaint human notions of 'good' and 'evil,'" the monster said. "I kidnapped one of the heroes and turned him into a chiropteran after making several attempts to kidnap his adopted children."
Don James and Kyo stared at him. "The hell? What are we working with you for?" Don James demanded.
"Hey, they were my biological grandchildren. And when I couldn't have them, I decided they should at least be raised by another of their kind."
"Are we done reminiscing about our stories of origin yet?" Browne asked, annoyed. "I gathered you here for a reason, you know." They shut up and sat attentively. "Right. As you may be aware, there are various metafictional organizations on and elsewhere that specialize in hunting down and killing Mary Sues and Gary Stus. I want to have some of my own OCs join them, so I have selected the four of you to demonstrate your Sue-hunting abilities in this fic, which I will later send to these organizations as sort of an application." Alex raised his hand. "Yes?"
"Yeah, I don't really care about Mary Sues or Gary Stus…well, a little about the Sues, if they're hot…can I go?"
"No," Browne said. "I'm about to dump you in a world not your own, and in that world, somewhere, you will find a Mary Sue or Gary Stu. Your job is to find them and kill them. Any questions? That was a rhetorical question." He pushed a button, and a trap door opened beneath them. He grinned. "Evil feels good."
The OCs were in some sort of broken castle. "Well, how are we going to proceed?" Don James asked.
"I see a cemetery. I'm going to go raise a few zombies," Alex said.
"Right, I suppose I ought to summon an army of demons," Kyo said.
"I'll take to the sky and, you know, actually look for the Sue," Hiroshi said, a pair of giant leathery wings sprouting from his back, and he took off.
"And what are you going to do, muggle?" Alex asked.
Don James pulled out a gun. "I'm going to play tank to you two's squishy wizards. Why don't we all go down to the graveyard together so I can protect you properly?"
"Hiroshi would make a better tank than you. He can take damage as well as give it. And he can dodge bullets."
"Yeah, well, I'm what you've got, so shut up," Don James said, feeling inadequate for the first time in his entire life.
"I don't suppose that we're in Rei: A New Kind of Princess and that that's Bui's castle that somehow got randomly destroyed?" Alex asked hopefully.
"Nope, the animation is nothing like Avatar: the Last Airbender," Kyo said.
"Oh. Too bad, because I'd actually have enjoyed killing Rei."
"I thought you didn't care about Mary Sues," Don James said.
"I don't; it's nonsensical characterization that pisses me of. Damn it, is Rei such an unbelievable pushover that she'd let Bui murder her in spite of the fact that her godlike powers ought to make escape trivial, thus making Shinji Ikari look seme by comparison, or is she feisty enough to constantly give Zuko lip?" Gentry shook his head. "It makes no sense!"
"And that's why we hunt them, my friend," Don James said comfortingly, patting his shoulder. They got to the graveyard, and the necromancer and sorcerer got to doing their respective things.
Hiroshi landed. "There's movement a hundred yards yonder. By the way, we're in Girl Genius."
"Yeah, I don't know that one," Don James said.
"I don't think we're going to need to know the plot in order to kill," Hiroshi said. "Let's go."
Gentry raised a few zombies and Kyo summoned a few youkai.
"That's it?" Don James asked. "What happened to the wave after wave of demons you were commanding at the end of Ties that Bind?"
"I was using power that Naraku had stored in me up to that point, and it's gone now."
"That was never addressed in the story."
"No, but it will be if there's ever a sequel. Can't have me being more powerful than the canon characters, after all," Kyo said.
"Well, it's stupid; change it."
"No way! I don't want to become a Gary Stu myself!"
A lightning bolt shot at them, and they were suddenly facing a rather busty redhead who had only one button of her rather tight shirt actually buttoned. "Halt, villains! I am Maria Antonia Fantasia Philomel, last survivor of my mysterious yet famously powerful clan of Sparks and sole heir to their esoteric secrets. Also, I'm a princess."
"Oh, you are such a Sue," Don James said. He fired, but she had disappeared into the castle's rubble.
"Didn't you say she was a hundred yards away?" Alex asked.
"Right, because she doesn't have these things called legs that allow her to move from place to place," Hiroshi replied sarcastically.
"She does have a rather nice set of legs," the necromancer admitted.
"That gives me an idea," Kyo said. "Leave this to me." He walked away from the others. "Maria? You've got me all wrong! I'm not a villain, like these guys! I've loved you since the first moment I saw you, and I want to give you this Noh mask as a token of my affection."
"Really?" Maria appeared out of nowhere.
"Here. I think you'll look beautiful in it."
"And this wouldn't happen to be the soul-eating and body-corrupting Noh mask from that one episode, is it? Please—like I don't watch InuYasha." She lifted her giant energy gun and fired, but Hiroshi stepped in front of it.
"Not going to happen today, Princess."
"But…television doesn't exist in her universe, does it?"
Don James fired, but Maria managed to escape.
"You mind not throwing bullets around like that? I mean, I'm standing right here—in front of your target," Kyo said.
"I'm a very good shot," Don James said.
"Send your demons and zombies and whatever out to search the ruins. James, protect the necromancer and sorcerer. And Kyo, forget that stupid Good is Dumb crap or I'm going to rip out your guts and use them to re-sting Haji's violin! We need an army of demons looking for her."
"Fine; I guess I'll just have to turn into a bad guy if there's a sequel to Ties that Bind."
"Yeah, like there's going to be a sequel to any of our fics at this point." Hiroshi flew off.
"You realize that necromancers and sorcerers are natural enemies, right?" Gentry shouted after him.
"Since when?" Kyo asked.
"Since I made it up, demon-boy."
Maria appeared out of nowhere again: "Aha! If I destroy the weak links, all the demons and zombies turn into so much air and dead bodies." She fired her weapon, but Don James fired first, hitting her once in each shoulder and once in each leg.
"Maria, you were a worthy opponent. But now, the coup de grace." Webbing suddenly came out of nowhere and pinned Don James to a tree.
"Not so fast," Hiroshi said.
"Hiroshi, you're betraying us?" Kyo demanded.
"Wow, really? You'd think he was some sort of villain or something," Alex said dryly.
"I approve of your general suspiciousness, but no, that's not what's happening here. See, Maria is not the Sue!"
Don James started. "But—didn't you hear her name? Or her introduction. Or see her? Or that weapon of hers that's bigger than she is? Or the off-screen teleportation?"
"Maria appeared in a show within a show in a chapter of Girl Genius called 'Fan Fiction,' which made fun of the very subject." Realization dawned. "That's right;" Hiroshi said, "she's a Parody Sue, or rather a Her-Codename-Was-Mary-Sue, I suppose, if you want to get technical. The real Gary Stu here is you, Don James!"
"But, I can't be a Gary Stu! All of you have more powers than I do," Don James protested.
"Donnie, Donnie, Donnie," Hiroshi tsk'd. "Mary Sue is not in her maroon eyes or in her Katana of Pantheocide and Bag of Infinite Holding, or even in insisting on being called by her full name." He coughed, and it sounded amazingly like he was saying Don James. "No, what makes Mary Sue Mary Sue is that she hijacks the plot and makes it all about her, and all the canon characters love her for it."
"But…I was only even in chapter eight."
"Yes, and that chapter was all about you, wasn't it?" Hiroshi said. "How you were always better than everyone at everything, and how everyone liked you. The whole Shinji/Misato romance—which was, after all, the main plot of At World's End—got one sentence's worth of mention in that whole chapter, didn't it?"
"But…why would S-Michael do this? He hates Mary Sues and Gary Stus," Don James was still in denial.
"Because you were going to die, anyway, either at the end of that chapter or the beginning of the next one. He figured that so long as he was going to kill an OC anyway, he might as well make it a Gary Stu, thus fulfilling one of his fantasies. This was before he realized that Mary Sue Hunters existed."
"But…you're more powerful than most of the canon characters of Blood+—more powerful by far. And the whole plot of Thicker than Water was about you," Don James still protested.
"The plot was about defeating me—huge difference there—on account of, you know, my being the villain. Antagonists are supposed to be more powerful than protagonists, or else there's no drama. Besides, the readers knew that they weren't supposed to like me the moment I referred to wiping out entire human settlements as 'the good old days.' And even so I was hardly omnipotent. I ended up going with a less satisfactory plan then my original, and then got a We Could Have Avoided All This speech from Nathan in order to, you know, lampshade the fact that I made some serious mistakes early on. I also have the convenient flaw of talking too much, thus allowing me to be Mr. Exposition, but that's neither here nor there."
"Think about your life, man," Gentry said. "You were always the best at everything you did, weren't you? Doesn't that send up some red flags?"
"I—but—what about you?"
"No, I have a pathological need to be the best at everything I do. Part of being a necromancer. Doesn't make me the best. Doesn't even make me sane, and I give my canon characters the heebie-jeebies on account of it."
"But Browne has S-Michael's name!"
"S-Michael did that intentionally to screw with a Mary Sue litmus test," Hiroshi said.
"But wouldn't I be a Parody Sue, as well?"
"No. He played you fiathfully straight before he killed you. Even after he killed you, when he started slandering your character, that was more of a Deconstruction—he was seeing what a person who was really the best there was at everything he did would actually be like. Turns out, they'd be a twisted jerk on the inside. Also, it kind of proves my point that even after you were dead you still had a story line. And lines."
"I—I—" Don James tried to argue further, but he was too smart and clever and rational (and wonderfully good at everything) to do so, and he had to face fact. He hung his head in shame: "I am a Gary Stu. And something of a Jerk Sue at that. It all makes sense now." He was crying. "Please…I can't go on living like this. Even in At World's End I was driven to madness by my own Stu-ness, and I wasn't even aware that such a creature existed then. I can't go through life with no defining, character-building weaknesses! That's not the way humans work. So…please. Just kill me."
Hiroshi snapped his neck. "And I thought I talked too much."
"What do we do about her?" Alex nodded at Maria.
"Leave her. She's a Parody Sue; they have all the powers of Mary Sues, only exaggerated for comedic effect. She'll be fine," Hiroshi said. "You know, Kyo, you're a related species called a 'Fixer Sue'."
"An OC who only exists to fix a problem the writer had with the canon? I know," Kyo said. "Usually it's just to get the One True Pairing together, but at least I got to do something interesting—bring Kagura back from the dead and get her to join the good guys. My whole story arch was just a justification of that—after all, people don't go around raising demons for the heck of it. It's why I've always been so careful not to do anything that might in any way be construed as Gary Stu-ish."
"Oh, good—so you're motivated in this little quest of ours," Hiroshi said.
"I'm not," Gentry said. "I'd sooner make passes at the Mary Sues than kill them."
"And yet you're fine with us killing them," Hiroshi pointed out.
"Yeah, well…necromancer. I live with death." Alex shrugged. "Can we go home now? I want to get back to reading De Vermis Mysteriis."
"I'm a bit worried, though," Kyo said. "People in our line of work turn into Sues and Stus with alarming frequency. And the whole antagonist Mary-Sue resistance no longer applies to us now that we're...protagonists."
"We've still got some protections against that horrible fate," Hiroshi said. "Remember the defining characteristic of the Mary Sue. So long as the story's not all about us and people don't fall head over heals for us, we're pretty safe. We have a huge advantage in that we're not doing this for ideological reasons, but rather because killing Mary Sues is fun. And, personally, if anyone falls for me, I'm going to kick their dog."
"Yes, psychopathy does have its advantages," Alex nodded sagely.
"Speak for yourself," Hiroshi said. "I'm a sociopath."