"Okay, so tell me where I am again, and why I'm here?"
"Well, I think your name is Jaz, that's what you told me. You're in office 221 of the Department of Mary Sues, Middle-Earth section, and you're here because you love Tolkien. If you don't, someone Upstairs has made a big mistake. Oh and I'm Tick." Tick shook her head; someone really had to prepare these new recruits better.
"That's a start. It doesn't explain much, though." Jaz's head hurt. Ever since that letter on the cactus-print letterhead arrived at breakfast things had been getting weirder and weirder. And now that she thought about it, what kind of name was Tick?
"You've been hired to help keep the population of Mary Sues down. Down to zero, actually. You're my partner, we're in our office, and we just have to get you oriented."
"And how do we do that?" Jaz looked over at the spaceship-like control panel taking up the better part of the wall and shuddered. "And what sort of name is Tick?"
"Long story. I'm not going into it. And as for you dearie, you better check your pack box. Each new recruit gets one. Go on, start unpacking!"
Jaz started unpacking the big grey box in front of her. She unloaded everything onto the floor: a cactus crest badge, a thick paperback copy of Lord of the Rings with "Official Canon" and a sunflower stamped on the inside cover, a book twice that size with a DMS & cactus logo, a hand-held computer thing, a towel, a pack of cards and a cactus keychain.
"So, what now? And what is with the plants?"
"That cactus is our insignia, we wear it with pride. The honour of being chosen to protect and preserve…" Tick's eyes started to glaze over as she recited something she obviously knew very well.
"Hey! Space cadet! Snap out of it and tell me what is going on. This stuff," she indicated the pile in front of her, "doesn't really help me too much."
"Fine, if you're going to get huffy about it. We wear the badge when we leave our office so people know what department we're from. The copy of Lord of the Rings is our reference guide, our bible, if you will, just in case our memories fail. The other book is our hand book, the speech I started before I was so rudely interrupted is on page 173, we also have your Canon Analysis Device, plus a complimentary pack of cards and keychain. Satisfied?"
"No. And the towel?"
"I won't ask. So, we protect the Lord of the Rings story? So what do we do, sit on this book until it hatches or something?"
"No! We use that," Tick motioned towards the control panel, "to travel into the Sue-worlds, and eliminate them." Tick's voice had gone scarily deep on the word 'eliminate', so Jaz slid her chair ever so slightly closer to the door.
"How do we find the right world? And how can it exist if…"
"Oh just read the manual! It's all in there." Tick wandered off, grumbling to herself. Jaz caught the words "damn new recruits" and "it's always me, isn't it" but decided to ignore them. She hefted the manual up onto her desk in the corner.
A few thousand pages later, Jaz snapped the book shut.
"Well, that was…."
"Narrative Laws of Comedy. You'll get used to them. Time for our first mission." Tick uncurled herself from where she had been napping: under her desk, for some strange reason. "Let's see if you can set everything up."
Jaz frowned, but started pressing buttons anyway. A flickering doorway appeared. Tick moved to step through it, but Jaz stopped her.
"Shouldn't we check what we're in for or something? And didn't that manual say something about setting disguises?"
"Oh. Right. Good idea. Better get on that then." Tick started poking around at the side of one of the control panel.
"What are you looking for? The screen is over here." Jaz pointed, while trying to figure out why her so-called partner had no idea what was going on. She shrugged, giving up on Tick, and investigated the words. Tick moved over beside her.
"Oooooh…big surprise. A Legolas romance. What else is new?" Jaz asked rhetorically.
"Well, there is now someone called Biblo in it now. That's a new one." Tick started to giggle and snort.
"Oh calm down. Now, orcs? She actually gets past the breaking of the Fellowship. Just past though."
"Sure. Always wanted funky teeth like that." Tick grabbed her backpack, as Jaz pressed what she hoped were the right buttons.
"Here goes nothing…" They stepped through the doorway.
The first thing they noticed when they arrived in Rivendell was that the world seemed to be spinning. They both knew that planets are supposed to spin, but none this…fast.
"Yeuk…I feel sick." Jaz was turning green, and that made an interesting addition to her orc-face. "Why the spinning? What's she done to this world?"
Tick concentrated on the words, frowning. "I think it's because she's gone through all of the Fellowship of the Ring in 2000 words. They're going to be moving incredibly fast. I don't think we'll be able to catch them here."
"Well, then let's go along for the ride until it slows down. It will slow down, right?"
"It should, after the Fellowship is broken, and she goes off with Frodo. And I think she might even give Sam one line then." Jaz frowned at that statement and started muttering interesting things about what happens to people who steal Samwise's lines.
"But it's a Legolas romance? Why is she going off with Frodo?" Jaz then remembered she could read ahead. "Oh ye gods! 'I will never see him again…. My hope is gone. He is gone.' If I wasn't feeling sick already, I'd turn green now."
"Here, take this." Tick thrust a pill into Jaz's hand. Jaz looked suspicious. "It's just a travel-sickness pill! I never leave home without them."
After taking the pill, the spinning was almost bearable. It did have the unfortunate side effect of letting them have time to read the words of the world. Jaz turned a very interesting shade of purple, even the more interesting through her orcish skin.
"So, now what should we do? I think the best time to take her is when she actually gets captured by the orcs at the end of chapter 3. Bulldoze that little 'cliffhanger'." Tick cackled happily at the thought.
"Good idea, and if we want to observe her, I think she's over on some balcony or garden in Rivendell. I want to get up close, this is my first mission…." Jaz turned on her puppy eyes and pouted, which is not a good look for an orc.
Tick nodded, and they made they way over. Soon they saw Gwen and Legolas, and crept close enough to hear what Legolas was saying to the Mary Sue:
"My Gwen, you have captured my eyes in a whole of two days and three nights. Ever since I saw you riding across the river with Frodo. When you defiantly looked toward the Riders and challenged them. 'If you want him, come and claim him.' You were not afraid."
Jaz was quietly sick in a bush, while Tick was trying to keep from rolling around on the ground and laughing.
"Jeez, she can't even get the movie right! Is this crazy ministry going to set up a movie-abuse control centre too?" Jaz looked at Tick, still feeling (and looking) very green.
"No, I think we just need to get rid of the Mary Sues. And that will be a big enough job for everyone. Remind me to tell you about the recruiting when we get back."
They decided to leave, but not before Jaz got to try out her new toy. She took the hand-held device out of her pack, and aimed it at Legolas. A loud shrilling noise was heard, and the little readout flashed: [73.43% CHARACTER RUPTURE!!!!!]
The two assassins walked away, and took refuge in a small grove of trees, shaking their heads at the massacre of such a wonderful literary work.
"So, what should we do now? You said to wait until those orcs pick her up, but that isn't until after the Fellowship is broken. That is one long time from now." Jaz stretched out her legs and sat down.
"You've forgotten how fast this is going. The Fellowship breaks by the end of chapter one. We'll pick her up at the end of chapter three. No time to lose, we have to get out here. Get going with the portal-y thingy."
"Oh goody, we get to miss her yelling how she could've saved Gandalf in Moria." Jaz poked through her pack and found the remote portal control. The flickering doorway appeared and the two orcs stepped through.
Once they arrived, they quickly hid themselves in the woods. Tick sat down and propped herself up against a tree, while Jaz read the words of the world.
"Don't go to sleep on me! Do you know any way that a half-elf could live in a hobbit hole?"
"Is it half-hobbit, half-elf?"
"No, definitely man-elf."
"No possible way then. Imagine the logistics. She'd have to have a really weird stoop when she left. Why was she living with the hobbits anyway?"
"Some junk about protecting Frodo, ever since Biblo's party."
Jaz snorted. Massacring hobbit names (and taking away their lines) were the best way to get on her bad side. Just as she decided to settle down, Tick twitched and sat up.
"I think I hear something. She's supposed to come running through the trees, and meet the orcs. And, before you ask, this idiot runs away from her camp, in known orc country because Frodo kissed her, and she misses her pookie-muffin, Leggy." Tick giggled.
"Please tell me she doesn't really call him 'pookie-muffin Leggy'."
"She doesn't, but I wouldn't put it past her. Now, behind the tree! I'll grab, you hit her head to knock her out so we can get away and charge her."
The two pseudo-orcs hid in the trees. Right on cue, they heard Gwen's footsteps running towards them. She sank to the ground, then her eye caught a black blur. As she moved for her bow, she felt herself being grabbed by two hairy arms, and then a sharp pain in the back of her head.
Half an hour's march later she was showing signs of waking up. Tick plonked her down, and then sat on her legs so they wouldn't have to bother tying her down.
"I've got her pinned, and you've got the charges?"
"Yup, I think I figured them out. So, how are you going to do it?"
"Do what?" Tick looked confused, and the wriggled a bit to get comfortable. The lump beneath her moaned.
"Kill her, dingbat! We have to get rid of her, right? What are we going to do otherwise? Open a zoo?"
"I thought you were going to do it.'
"But I thought you were…."
"Well, she has to die somehow. I'll look through my bag for something. Here, you sit on her for a second."
They traded places, and Tick rummaged through her bag. Finally, she pulled out a slightly faded, flower-patterned beach towel with a triumphant flourish.
"Here we go! Never leave home without a towel, that's what I always say."
"Do I want to know how that solves our problems?"
"Well, we have a few options, really, but I was thinking of tying her to a tree with it. Makes it all easier. Here, help before she wakes up."
Soon enough the now conscious Mary-Sue was tied to the tree. Jaz stepped towards her, nervously.
"Gwen, it is my duty to inform you that you have been charged with disrupting the canon by joining the Fellowship, interfering with the characters of multiple characters- most notably Legolas and Frodo- stealing Sam's lines and making him into a bit character, also being a Mary Sue. Oh, and it's Bilbo. Not 'Biblo'. BILBO!" The orc finished, and looked very proud of itself. "Any last, non-sappy words?"
"Just tell Legolas that his Gwen loved him and…." She was cut off by the second orc jumping forward.
"I've had enough of this. Those are definitely not non-sappy words. Stand still…." Tick went up to the now struggling half-elf, and took an arrow out of her quiver. She then retrieved the bow from where it lay on the ground.
"Don't touch that bow, filth! That was the last thing Legolas gave me…." Gwen's eyes started to tear up again.
"Really now? Well, when you're gone, I think he'll be glad it has been put to good use." Tick pulled back the bowstring, and shot Gwen through the heart. The two assassins were instantly aware of a strange, but welcome, sensation. That of the world slowing down its spinning to normal speed.
"Wow," Jaz stepped up to untie Tick's towel before it got blood on it. "You're a better shot than I thought. They way you were talking before I didn't think you'd thought about killing her."
"Truthfully, I didn't. And I was aiming for a nice, in-between the eyes shot. But it got the job done. Now, what to do with the body?"
"Well, how many days after the breaking of the Fellowship are we?" Jaz seemed to have the germ of an idea.
"I don't know, dates weren't really featured in this fic. Maybe three or four?"
"Then there is due to big a big bonfire soon. Of course it will be the orcs being burnt, but we could always throw her on. The Rohirrim won't mind. And the dates are so dodgy right now that we could probably arrive when we wanted, if we thought hard enough."
"Portal again? Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli may be able to do it quickly, but I don't feel like trekking around with her over my shoulder."
Jaz nodded and got out the remote.
Back at Headquarters, Tick and Jaz collapsed in their chairs.
"My first mission. That was such a rush! Say Tick, how many missions have you been on? Was your first a big rush too?"
"Yeah, that one was a bit of a rush. But that just might have been the effect of the world spinning ten times too fast."
"That was your first mission? They partnered me up with someone who had no idea what they were doing? I knew it! I knew you were weird. You didn't know anything about the machines or anything. Oh my God…I'm going to see that manager. Director. Whatever the head of this organisation is."
"He's a flower. He won't do anything. That was just my first Mary Sue mission. Hey, I said I'd tell you about the recruiting process, didn't I? I tell you how they got me." Tick settled down in her chair, and grabbed a chocolate bar out of a drawer in the desk. "Up until this morning, I was in the Department of Bad Parody. I started as a diffuser of bad puns. The computer for that was like a ticker-tape machine. Very old fashioned, but all I had to do was cut out the puns. I worked my way up from there. We didn't go into the fics very often, we just read them on the ticker-tape, or the new screens, and deleted stuff. Then one day we got a memo saying to automatically delete everything with a summary that said "Guaranteed to make you laugh!" or "Funniest thing you'll ever read!" or "I make myself laugh!" You get the idea. That cut our department in half. I was lucky; they let me stay on, because I was a promising young worker. Then another memo came to me, it said they wanted to study good humour, find out what really makes something funny, and they were sending me into a fic. They sent me into "BagEnders". Have you heard of it?" Tick stopped to let Jaz answer, but more for a bite of the chocolate bar.
"Yes! It is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Can we get into it from our computer?"
"No, humour isn't usually connected up to it like the Mary Sues are. Anyway, the reason they decided to switch me was, that when the time came for me to come back and report, I didn't. I stayed there. I couldn't leave; it was too much fun. I said I wasn't going to, so I hid behind Gandalf's chair. I didn't think they could find me there, but they have some sort of extractor. I was hauled up in front of our director. He's only a pansy, but he demoted me, and they sent me here, 'cause they're so short of people." Tick finished the chocolate bar with her second bite.
"Aww…poor you. But if your ex-boss ever heard you calling him a pansy, he would've demoted you anyway, wouldn't he?"
"No, Jaz, you don't understand, he IS a pansy. A little yellow pansy in a pot. You have a lot to find out about this place."