Posted on: 2016-10-04 23:11:14 UTC
The Aviator, Zeb, and Alex pushed open the doors to Rudi's, stomachs rumbling.
"You guys go grab a table, I'll get our food," the Aviator said, squeezing her way through the crowded pub to the bar.
He was followed by his partner, who was just as cheerful, even if he wasn't skipping. They paused when they entered the bar, for it was more crowded than they were used to. Apecian looked around, shrugged, and started walking through the crowd, trying to find an empty table. Michael followed, and they did, eventually, find a table.
"I wonder why it's so crowded in here," Apecian said to nobody in particular.
'Bingle. He said, ocular whizzing about in its socket like a UFO with a blind pilot, stopping here and there when it decided that this, this was what needed observation, before immediately breaking off to bounce around further.
'Are you okay, Finch?' Bingle asked, putting the salt shaker down, glancing at his burger, and immediately picking it back up to continue building the little salt hill on the meat into a mountain.
'Did we miss a bloody memo, or something?' His ocular narrowed onto Bingle's face pleadingly, lower lid quivering slightly.
'I hope not, Finch. They're made of pure gold, you know.'
Finch paused, pulled briefly out of his horrified trance by the sludgy murk of disappointment. He was almost instantly pulled back in, as he felt something brush against his chassis.
'Bingle, why the hell are there so many,' He glanced around again into the sea of action department flash patches. 'Why the hell are there so many bloody agents?'
and trying to find a place to sit when they overheard Finch's question.
"There's a lot of people in here since we all got invited to Rudi's after the mass exorcism." Tomash said. Then, he added, "Actually, can we join y'all? It's getting really hard to find a table in here."
'Don-t do that!' He squealed, vision filling with lots of red warning signs and exclamation marks. His body was hissing like a deflating snake. Bits and parts inside clicked and clacked conspicuously. He swung a hatch on his chassis open, pecking at buttons and knobs with two panicked hands and two equally panicked claws.
'Oh, you shouldn't do that, you know,' Bingle advised, emptying the salt. 'And, absolutely. We like company, don't we, Finch?'
'Yes!' He howled. 'Especially with agents!'
'You can always trust him to be reasonable,' Bingle said with a smile.
'I love company! And acid baths! And explosives! And falling rocks, falling onto me and crushing me to pieces! I love it all!'
'Who did you exorcise?' Bingle asked, ducking as a loose bolt shot off the raging Finch, pinging into the distance. 'Must have been difficult, you know. Lots of people, climbing all over each other. All getting at one fellow. Did you take turns each?'
((Need to slow down on the 'Finch breaking' joke, a bit. Happening a bit too much...))
"We were exorcising the Everfree Forest, in the My Little Pony universe. A Stu had merged with it, and was able to control it somewhat. So the Aviator and Zeb, I think, or maybe it was Zeb and Alex, asked all of us to go throughout the forest and exorcise." Peregrin explained.
"Performing an exorcism as a pony was certainly interesting." he added.
Tomash chimed in "Yeah, but then we got attacked by trees. Not so fun."
Peregrin noticed that Finch was still smoking. "Er, Mr., ah, Bingle, is your partner well? Or do parts of them often fire off into the distance?"
Finch grumbled, twisting a last knob, which served to shut down the rumbling, clicking, smoking and impending explosion all at once.
'You lot had better not go insane and kill me, Finch muttered, totally prepared for hasty escape if needed. He murmured things under his breath about his plate, and how he already had heaps of things on it, and how everyone else thought they had it rough.
'Oh, it's quite regular, actually. Not as expensive as you might think. Now, attacked by trees?' Bingle said. 'What kind? What happened? I've done that before, you know.' He closed his burger and took a bite out of it.
He tried to reassure Finch "I'm not insane. Or at least I think I'm not. You can never be entirely sure about such things. I don't remember having the Book thrown at me..." He trailed off into thought, and then realized he wasn't sure who he was talking to. So he said "I'm Agent Peregrin, and my partner over there is Tomash. We are members of the Ord— Department of Mary Sues. Who are you? I don't believe we have met."
Meanwhile, Tomash was talking with Bingle. "Well, the trees themselves were pretty ordinary trees, maybe a bit on the gloomy side. I mean, kids' show, so you can't have anything too scary. But the Stu was sort-of controlling them, and he apparently didn't want to be exorcised, so the trees sort of started leaning in on us and trying to thwack us with their branches. Peregrin was busy putting on a really showy exorcism —"
Peregrin cut in."— My exorcism technique was not needlessly 'showy'. Such occasions call for a certain formality."
"But you don't need a whole long chant. You just wave a bell around and yell stuff about Faust. That's what everyone else did, anyway."
"I still hold that banishments require a certain weight."
"Yeah, so anyway. Peregrin was doing his thing, and there was a tree getting pretty close, so I had to put the bell down and hit the thing a few times. Then I think it realized that attacking agents wasn't a good idea."
'Makes me wonder what the hell they do in FicPsych all day.' Finch said, sarcasm circuits buzzing with overpowering energy. ''I-m S86FNC-11630, he-s Bernhard Bingard Bingle, and we-re in Building Maintenance. We-re very familiar with your department. Especially what it does to its hallways. And what those hallways then try doing to us.
'You should appreciate them more, Finch,' Bingle said, pallid face displaying nothing short of innocent sincerity. 'Almost half of our workload comes from them, you know.'
'Half of our injuries, too, Bingle.'
Bingle shrugged with the kind of nonchalance only a man without a working nervous system could shrug with.
'Now, how on earth did an entire forest get possessed? I remember the last time that sort of thing happened.'
'I remember the hallways from then, too.'
'Oh, absolutely terrible,' Bingle agreed.
"B-B-uilding M-M-aintenance?" he asked. "I hope that - that the clock I've been building in our RC hasn't been a, uh, problem. I thought it was - it was permitted, but ..."
"Dude. Pregrin. Relax!" Tomash said reassuringly. "They're with Building Maintenance, not DIA or some sort of inquisition."
Peregrin was somewhat reassured, and the mention of inquisitions led him to reminiscing. "If they were with something like the Inquisition there would be no reason to worry. All Inquisitors ever did was look in about once a decade to make sure we hadn't build a nuclear reactor in the kitchens. Now Suur Thelenoses, her you had to worry about. She was Warden back when I was much younger and less rule-abiding. And she could spot just about anything. I remember when..."
While Peregrin was taking a trip down memory lane, Tomash told Bingle "Yeah. I don't know what happened with the forest, exactly. Apparently, the guy died and 'merged' with it. I mean, I can sort of see stories where that would work, but that fic wasn't one of them. And i'll try not to ruin the hallways."
Peregrin overheard this and commented. "Yes. It's best to be careful with the hallways. Especially since all of the likely notions of 'near' for the corridors are extremely hard to work with, I've found."
'You know how many ways there are for a clock to kill you?' Finch asked, leaning in. 'I-ve calculated it. It-s more than ten million. And that-s only straight fatalities!'
'Do calm down, Finch.' Bingle looked to Peregrin. 'An Inquisition? Nuclear reactors?' He rubbed his wooden nose with the back of a finger.
'I do hope you're not from World One,' He said, smiling.
Finch muttered about death machines and extra work and self-preservation in the background.
"My partner is, though. If you want to know more about the place, you should ask him.
"I came from a universe indistinguishable from the one described in Anathem. I lived my whole life before joining the PPC in the Millenarian math at Saunt Baritone's. I think the best analogy for those is a combination of a theoretical research institute and a monastary. It doesn't quite fit, but analogies never do. And the Inquisition was established after several hundred-year maths went collectively insane. I'm almost certain there was a nuclear reactor involved in one of those events.
"And Mr. Finch, I am building a much less ambitious replica of our clock tower. I do not expect it to kill you, even indirectly.
"So, what universe-groups are you from?"
(( Peregrin has been around the shouting matches that result when people get vague about multiverse theory. ))
'Well, aren-t I in bloody luck! That drives possibilities up to,' He stopped, staring ahead at nothingness. His ocular spun slowly and calmly, whirring for a few moments, before suddenly stopping. 'Oh, forty million. But because I trust you so much, He said, 'I-ll lower that to a nice thirty-eight million.'
'Finch, you know what the technicians said about that sar-plasm build-up in your coolant tubes.'
'The technicians nearly killed me!'
'Blowtorches are supposed to be hot, aren't they?' Bingle's face screwed up.
'That-s the same bloody stuff in explosions!' Finch said, pointing. He looked back to Peregrin, still pointing at Bingle. 'We-re from, essentially, nowhere.'
'Semi-fic blips, you know. Different fics.' Bingle added. 'It's quite nice, actually. I've not heard once of a Sue from UnderLondon Esoteric.'
"There is certainly an advantage to being from a universe-group that is not often described. I am not looking forward to an Anathem Sue becoming real enough here to mission."
Tomash stood up. "I'm going to order. Should I get something for y'all since I'm up?"
"I would like some Vrone wine, if they have any. Otherwise, bring back some of whichever barrel they are trying to drain quickly."
Des was making calming noises, aimed at an obviously traumatised Librarian. "Shh, Lump, it's fine, we're not gonna do that again," he said, "promise."
The Librarian just shook his head. "Madness, I say. Madness."
Des sighed and got up. "Tell you what - I'll get you some Cointreau and a bite to eat, aright? You look like you need it."
The Librarian mumbled something, and Des made his way toward the bar proper.
Chris and Ami walked up to the table, holding a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches and an ambrosia salad, respectively. "Mind if we join you? We can't find anyone we know in here, and Miguel and Violet both needed to crash after the exorcism, so...I'm Chris, by the way. I'd shake your hand if I could do it without dropping my food."
"I'm Ami Seeker." The unicorn smiled and held up her right hoof. "You're...the Librarian, right? I've read some of your mission reports, but not in a while or any real detail."
"I would rather not," he said, his voice shaking slightly, "but Desdendelle would no doubt say it is good for me, so do as you wish." He crossed his arms.
"Thank you...I think." Ami sat down closer to the outside edge, so she could leave quickly if things got too uncomfortable.
Chris sat next to her and began eating one of his sandwiches. "Ami, you ever tried one of these?" he said between bites. "Grilled cheese is the second-best diner food in the multiverse."
"I don't think I have. Would I be right to assume that first place goes to your mom's burgers?"
"Eeyup. Mom's the reason I like spicy food." Chris smiled fondly and turned to their host. "So you're partnered with Desdendelle? What kinda place is he from, anyway? I heard he gives carnivorous tea to any new arrival he meets."
Desdendelle slid a plate of poutine to the Librarian and placed an orange bottle of Cointreau before the Time Lord, then took his own place.
The Time Lord glanced at him with something akin to gratefulness on his face and applied himself to his food.
Des sipped from his tea. "I'm afraid I don't know you guys' names...?" he told Chris and Ami.
"Er, I mean, I'm Chris." He wiped his hand with a napkin before shaking the armored man's. "Nice to meet you, Desdendelle."
"I'm Ami Seeker," said the pony. "Have you been to my 'verse before? You looked sort of uncomfortable during the exorcism, so I'm guessing not."
"How could you tell he looked uncomfortable through that armor?" asked Chris.
((Des is back to looking like his old self, as of three stories ago.))
((Let's try that last post again, shall we?)) "I'm Chris. Nice to meet you, sir." He wiped his hand with a napkin before shaking Desdendelle's.
"I'm Ami Seeker," said the pony. She took another forkful of her salad. "Have you been to my 'verse before? You looked sort of uncomfortable during the exorcism, so I'm guessing not."
"We were all uncomfortable in Everfree, Ami," Chris pointed out.
He was fidgeting so badly, he had barely gotten any of his pasta down. He suddenly jumped at an imagined nothing and brushed at his arm vigorously.
Vania sat with her forehead resting in her hand, head low to the table. "Doc. Please, please relax. You're fine." She idly scratched her spoon against her empty plate.
Doc dropped his fork onto the plate. "I canNOT get stung by a bee. Every male in my family has had horrible reactions to bee stings. I've never been stung, so I have no idea if I inherited that, so I can't ever take the risk of getting stung, because it could—"
Vania slammed the spoon down into the plate. "For the last time, those weren't even bees! They were some parasite something. I don't know if they're even insects!" She glanced down at her cracked plate, and her face went a little white. "Oh, crud."
Doc was about to reply, but it turned into a yelp as he jerked away from someone who had brushed against his elbow while walking behind Doc's seat.
Shamrock pulled her bushy tail out of the way. "I didn't mean to scare you! The darn thing has a mind of its own, sometimes, I swear."
Randa tilted her head. "Hey... you were at the exorcism, weren't you?" she said. "I think I've seen you around HQ before. I'm Randa, and this is my partner, Shamrock."
((Am I the only one who has been curious about the way Randa reacted to the different... events in the life of her friend and what she has done for the two last years?))
"Hello, folks! Yeah, we were at the exorcism." She glanced at Doc, who was shaking slightly less now. " . . . Not sure how much we really contributed, but definitely there. I'm Vania, and this Doc."
"It's not really our fandom," Doc said, without turning to look at the pair. "We've only been to the OFU once."
"Kind of fun, being in those pony bodies, though. Feels so bouncy when you run!" Vania wiggled her shoulders a bit. "How about you guys? Were you both in pony disguises?"
Shamrock grinned and gestured to one of the empty seats. "Mind if we sit here?"
Randa's eyes lit up. "You've been to the OFU? I'd love to attend one, but it seems like I never have the time."
"Plus I'd miss you too much," Shamrock teased.
Randa rolled her eyes. "You'd just find someone else to make friends with."
Doc turned a bit to face them. "Attending an OFU could be cool, but I think most agents are already too good at writing to get much use from it."
"We were only there for the herbal bath," Vania explained. "It was back when that loony fox agent dumped the Poison Joke into HQ's ventilation system. Were you guys around for that?"
"I've only been around for two years," Randa said.
"One for me," Shamrock said cheerily. She scratched idly under the Sue tracker on her wrist. "I'm really enjoying it here so far, though. Much more relaxing than hunting Grimm all the time. What about you guys? Been here long?"
"Five years, actually," said Doc. "Wow. I still feel like such a newbie. It feels weird to have been here longer than anyone else."
"And I . . . well, I didn't really count," Vania evaded. "I've been around since before the 2008 invasions, though." She looked downwards, which reminded her of the broken dish. She quickly swept it into her lap, hoping the newcomers didn't notice. "Soooooo, what were those grim things you hunted?"
Shamrock didn't seem to notice her partner's sigh. "The world that I come from, Remnant, is inhabited by these big nasty critters called Grimm. As a huntress, I was training to fight them before I came here. They're soulless creatures of destruction and dread, and are attracted to human suffering. You've got fairly weak ones, like Beowolves and Creeps, but there are some big nasty ones out there like the Goliaths and Nevermores." She grinned and patted the haft of the giant axe on her back. "They were no match for me and Schmerzweimel, though!"
"She likes to talk about her weapon like it's alive," Randa whispered to Vania.
"So your world has such a monster problem, they have to train people just to fight them? Are they just . . . walking around the streets in the average city? Isn't there some way to stop them from being created? Or are they just your local wild animals?"
Then, very quietly under his breath, Doc added, "Wild monster animals, like bees."
Shamrock made a rocking motion with her hand. "We've got, like, you know, walls and stuff, to keep them out, but that doesn't always work. There were a couple of times somebody deliberately let Grimm into the city—"
"Cinder Fall," Randa put in.
"Yeah, her, sorry, I haven't seen the show that much. Anyway, yeah," Shamrock said. She was now drumming her fingers on the table in a staccato rhythm. "I was in the middle of fighting a Nevermore that was attacking Beacon when I fell into HQ. Let me tell you, that was confusing!"
"You haven't watched your own world's show? Why not? I wish my world had unique movies and novels about it." He solidly drummed his fingers into the tabletop. "Trouble is, pretty much everything that's happened in World One has happened in another version of Earth, too. Mine doesn't have any stories unique too itself."
Meanwhile, Vania was leaned against the edge of the table, delicately slipping shards of plate into the waistline of her pants.
Shamrock grinned. "You know how it is. Saving the multiverse doesn't leave you with much downtime. But I'd like to hear more about World One! Randa's always 'Oh, there's nothing interesting to say' but I don't believe it."
"She's pretty much right. I mean, we've got a wide variety of climates and cultures, but most well-written word worlds do, too. Um, lots of different animals, most of which aren't dangerous. Hmmm . . . Looks like my country's about to get a sucky president—I hope other versions of the U.S. had better options, this election." He furrowed his brow. "Australia has fire tornadoes, apparently? Although I guess other versions of Australia must get those, too." He shrugged.
"What's a U.S.? Australia? Is that place dangerous like the Grimm-infested subway tunnels? I don't know much about your world, remember..."
"I'll go get us some food while you two are talking," Randa said, getting up and going to the bar.
A moment ago, he had been ready to ask Randa's help in describing their home. He glanced at Vania, but she was staring into the distance and fiddling with something under the table.
He turned back to Shamrock and cleared his throat. "Um. U.S. is short for the United States, which is the country I lived in. It started out as separate colonies owned by another country, but the colonies worked together to become their own country. That's why it has a weird plural name."
Doc watched Shamrock's face to see if she seemed bored, but dove in to her next question. "And Australia is a huge island where the animals evolved to be really different from the rest of the planet's. The mammals there carry their babies in pouches of skin on the outside of their body, and two of them even lay eggs. And a lot of the snakes and spiders there have very powerful venom, so it does have a reputation for being dangerous, by Earth standards. But we still don't have any actual monsters, like your world does. So, like I said, pretty mundane."
He paused. "Although now that I think about it, I don't know what causes those fire tornadoes. Hm." He furrowed his brow and took a drink.
She glanced at Doc and Vania. "You... you do have Dust in World One, right?"
"No, no Dust, just lots of dust. Is Dust what creates the Grimm?"
Vania suddenly straightened up and fluffed out the front of her shirt. She folded her hands on the table and watched Shamrock attentively with a small, forced smile.
Shamrock pulled a chain out from under her shirt and held out the phial on the end. "This is my emergency supply," she said. "Dust comes in both crystal and ground forms; it's what allowed humans and Faunus to first fight back against the Grimm when we were nearly driven to extinction. People harness Dust's powers to channel elemental effects, like fire or ice."
Randa returned with a bowl of walnuts for Shamrock and a sandwich for herself. Shamrock began stuffing the food in her mouth, pausing when she realized Randa was giving her a meaningful look. "What?" Shamrock said around her bulging cheeks.
"Nothing," Randa said, turning her attention to her sandwich.
Shamrock chewed, swallowed, then said, "So tell me more about these egg-laying mammals!"
"There are two mammals on World One that still lay eggs like birds, and they both live in Australia. One is the echidna, which basically looks like a hedgehog—um, four legs, skinny snout, covered in spines, burrows underground and eats bugs. And the platypus is a weird animal, because it's furry, but it lives in rivers, so it has webbed feet and a duck beak and a flat tail for swimming. Oh, and male platypi have a chunk of bone sticking out of their back ankles that can poison predators they kick, and they're the only venomous mammal. In my world, anyway."
Vania was holding her arms out towards Doc while looking at her new tablemates. "This. He pulls this crap every mission. Something happens in the badfic, and he's all like, 'That's wrong, because blah blah blah fourteenth-century Scottish castle construction blah blah.' It's—" She huffed and put her head in her hands. "is that, is this, just a thing? That partners do? Do you two do this at each other? I mean, I never get a turn. Ugh."
Doc shrugged. "I read. Things." He sipped more of his drink. "Castles were mostly being phased out for tower houses in Scotland by the fourteenth century, though."
((Turns out, three of the four echidna species are critically endangered right now, and I have a sad. :( ))
((Also, arbitrary assumption that Shamrock would know what a duck beak looks like, but not a beaver tail, is arbitrary.))
"Not really," she said cheerfully. "I mean, Randa doesn't really do much to annoy me other than be a big ol' 'fraidy cat sometimes, but I guess it kinda makes sense since she can't get hit by anything without getting hurt, really."
Randa jabbed a thumb at Shamrock. "This one never. Sits. Still," she said. "You have any idea how distracting it is trying to note down charges with her twisting her hair or drumming her fingers next to you?"
"Look, I'm sorry, but I really, really can't help it," Shamrock said, now beginning to tap the table. "I'm. A. Squirrel."
Vania said, "You mentioned your world has humans and Faunus in it. Does that mean you're a Faunus? If you don't mind my asking, do all Faunus have squirrel traits, or can they have other looks, too?"
Shamrock's tail began twitching now; it seemed impossible for her to sit still. "Faunus can have all sorts of animal traits; one of the main characters from my home continuum is a cat Faunus, and she has cat ears; I know there's another who has a monkey tail, but there are all sorts! Deer antlers, rabbit ears, retractable claws..." She grinned and pulled her tail around to hug it, the fluffy red fur tickling her chin. "Unfortunately we're kinda discriminated against in my home continuum, but here people don't look twice at me! It's pretty great, especially since a tail this big is kinda hard to hide."
Vania tched. "Never mind you help fight the giant monsters that live all over the world. Racism still needs to happen!"
"It's crazy when I remember how prejudiced the people on our world can be," Doc said to Randa, "after being here so long, and seeing how easy it is for such different people to work together. And World One only has one sentient species!"
"But, well, I think people are generally a lot better than most like to think," Shamrock said, smiling.
"Right optimist, you are," Randa said.
He said, "My world is getting better. Just . . . really slowly. Painstakingly, insultingly slowly."
Vania piped up, "It takes time sometimes, doesn't it?"
Doc made a noise like "urm" and continued to stare at his plate.
"Sometimes," she said. "Hopefully we'll see things change before I'm dead of old age."
"Awful cheery today, aren't you?" Shamrock said, shaking her head. "Hey, it could be worse: the events of your world could be dictated by sadistic authors who like to watch characters suffer."
Randa grimaced. "Okay, you have a point there."
Vania rolled her eyes. "Oh, boy, here we go again."
Doc continued. "I don't know if authors actually make the word worlds do anything. Or at least, I don't like to think that. It removes some of a story's oomph if you only think of it in terms of a constructed story. I think all the worlds are real as World One. Or, if they aren't real, then World One is a word world, too. I don't see why it would be different from all the others. It could have an author, too."
"Just so long as HQ isn't a word world," Vania said tiredly. "'Cause then you're talking about authors using characters to stop other authors' characters from harming the characters of another group of authors. And that's dumb."
"She's not really one for philosophical questions," Randa said, nodding at her partner. "'Course, I find that stuff interesting. I remember Rina telling me about some gossip she heard one day; something about some Swan's Egg or something. Rumors that the PPC really is written after all."
"We're not being controlled by anything. We have self agency. Plus, so many agents are from World One. How would it make sense for us to be real, and then suddenly enter a word world and become characters controlled by an outside author?
Vania tilted her head. "Self agency, yes. Agents with agency." She turned to Doc. "Agency agents."
Doc closed his eyes. "Ugh."
"Agents of the agency with agency! Ooh, do you think the agents have argent aegises for their agencies?"
"Oh, now you guys have done it," Randa groaned as Shamrock continued on in a similar vein to herself. "I once heard her say 'Rubber baby buggy bumpers' to herself for an hour straight. I still can't hear any of those words without getting her voice stuck in my head."
She straightened up (which was accompanied by a clinking sound) and joined in with Shamrock's highly alliterative speech, creating a full conversation's worth of repetition.
"Oh, boy," said Doc. "At least she's not singing. So, um, Randa, where were you from, back on Earth?"
Randa sighed. "Okay, maybe not. Um... okay, you know Louisville, Kentucky? Where the Kentucky Derby is? I'm from a town just across the Ohio River to the north. Rina... the Aviator and I were friends from high school."
"And you knew Rina? That's cool. Vania met her once—Uh—"
Doc's words were interrupted by Vania giving a goofy chuckle under her breath. "Yes, Doc, I did meet Rina, didn't I? That one time."
"Specifically the time you got yourself imaginary-drunk on butterbeer."
"Because you're such a lightweight, a pixie affected by feather fall could crush you underneath herself."
"Can we not do this, please?"
"Is this the incident that involves, what, a hundred plastic flamingos?"
Shamrock's eyebrows shot up. "Okay, now I've got to hear this for myself."
"Yeah, so you know how Butterbeer has almost no alcohol in it, to the point where eleven-year-olds can drink it in wizarding society? Well, Doc is apparently such a rampaging teetotaler that he flipped out when he found out he had been drinking stuff meant for preteens."
"Nuuuuuuuuu . . ." Doc began sinking slowly down in his chair.
"And he freaks so badly, he convinces himself—purely psychological, mind you—that he must be drunk now, because that's how it works, obviously. And I wake up the next morning to an RC full of plastic flamingos full of glitter, because Doc has been out remote activating under the influence all night."
"Stop ignoring my wishes," Doc whispered, head just barely over the tabletop now.
And he went to Camp Halfblood, of all places—Doc, have you even read any Percy Jackson?"
"Not as of the time of this writing," came the answer from beneath the table.
Vania grimaced at the weird answer and continued. "And then went to a Sue town—which we're at peace with, so thank goodness he didn't start some kind of incident."
"You're killing me, Vania, I'm dying now."
"And then he ends up back on World One, in the middle of some beach in winter, and nearly gives his fool of a self frostbite."
"Vania, why is your shirt full of—" Then, he made a sound akin to footwear hitting a jawline.
"So Rina and I track him down, through all this, and freeze our butts off getting him to Medical so he doesn't die. And, we had to run damage control and neuralyze a bunch of people who saw our portal. You'd best believe the Hyacinth had some words to say about that."
"That was only part of the reason for our punishment," mumbled Doc from the floor.
Printworthy smiled over his glass of wine, patiently waiting for his partner to get the excitement out of his system. If he were truly honest with himself he was rather flustered as well. It was quite the harrowing experience. They have both had faced against many dastardly villains in the past, glitter-dos of such power, they could rival Tirek in raw strength. But for one to wield the powers of the Everfree Forest itself? He knew he had vanquished far more challenging foes, but this one...
"Then, wham! I don't think I've seen somebody, just, freaking, get launched that far! I mean, hope they're OK and all, but by Celestia was it funny."
The unicorn took a gentle sip. He decided the next drink was going to be some manner of bleep-cohol. He was used to the mystic chaos of the Everfree by now, of course. He's had to plunge into it's depths many times before. He had even grown accustomed to its unique flora and fauna. Learned to think of it as yet another forest. Yet, this particular glitter-do brought back all his childish fears again. The writhing vines, rushing forth to ensnare him, rend the flesh from his bones, and consume his soul. It was... Disturbing, to say the least.
"Thank goodness I brought my spear. Would have been up all kinds of creeks without it!"
Printworthy signaled for another round. He had managed to maintain his composure in the middle of the crisis, even as childish fears and traditional wisdom beat against his training. At least, he believed so. Perhaps the traces of bleeprin wafting through the air was beginning to affect his memory. Even still, as he sat, listening to Marvin spin his tales of grandeur, he began planning a visit to Fictional Psychology. Just a therapy visit, somebody to talk to and be sure everything was all right. He could not risk suffering a mental breakdown the next time he was required to venture into that cursed wood again.
"You know, it just hit me. Wasn't this set in, like, season one? So, then, how come there were so many plants from that attack in Twilight's Kingdom? You know, the ones that the Tree of Harmony was suppressing. I don't know, maybe canon was trying to salvage something from this mess. Or, maybe I'm just seeing things. I dunno."
Printworthy took his new glass, passing two bits over to the humble bartender. He took a deep sip of the bitter drink, relishing the dampening of memory. He was not one to abuse bleeprin, unlike most of his peers, but even he had to admit, the feeling of relief from mental anguish that washed over his brain was quite welcome. Besides, he had no reports to write this afternoon, Celestia willing. He could afford a little irresponsibly.
"Hey, you alright man? You're a bit quieter than usual."
The unicorn shook his head. "My apologies. I was in a rather contemplative mood this afternoon. Must be the wine working its wonders."
Marvin shrugged, taking a swig of his cider. "No worries. Just checking in, is all." At this, his eyes wend wide. His hands flew down to his pouches, feeling around theor contents. "Did you grab the DVDs? I don't have em."
Printworthy searched his saddlebags. "Blast. It appears not."
Marvin groaned. "Ugh. Now we have to get replacements. I just hope the cleanup crew found them first. Else, somepony is gonna have an existential crisis on their hooves." He took a big gulp of his cider. "Still. 'Least we purged the monster. That's nice."
Printworthy smiled, raising his glass. "Indeed. Cheers to that."
Marvin looked around the crowded pub. He saw old friends, new acquaintances, and many unfamiliar agents. Something stored inside him. In a flash of inspiration, and alcohol enhanced confidence, he stood, ponding on the table. "A toast!" he cried, swinging his mug. "To dead Sues and Stus. May they fall quickly, and sparkly!"
Printworthy shook his head, but raised his glass high. "Cheers!" As his partner sat back down, he decided to assess the crowd himself. "Well, now that you demanded everyone's attention, perhaps we should socialize. Join with others in the festivities."
Marvin nodded, as he chugged his drink. "Yeah, sure," he said, wiping off cider from his chin. "Right after I finish this drink."
Before Marvin could finish his cider, a young man with rainbow-colored hair and a light blue pilot's jacket joined the two of them. His magenta eyes twinkled with delight, his pointed teeth (pointed teeth?!) bared in an excited grin.
"Could it be? Could it really be THE Marvin and Printworthy?! It is! OmigoshomigoshomigoshomigoshomigoshOMIGOSH! Hiiiii, nice to seeya! Rayner Blitzkreig, DMS, it's an honor!"
"Is it, really?" A tall, dark-haired young woman, bound in chains of light with a large book chained to her ankle, had also joined them. The strangest thing about her wasn't the horns on her shoulders, or the leather wings on her back, or her reptilian tail. No, it was the fact that her severed head was currently balanced, upside-down, on top of the stump of her neck.
"What's so significant about these two, really?" asked E.V.L. "They're just agents."
"Just agents? The All-Purpose Department, My Little Pony Division? They buckin' founded that division!" He turned back to the two of them. "Sorry 'bout that, guys. My partner's as rude as Tartarus, and I can't really change that no matter how hard I try."
"What, no mention of all those trips to FicPsych?" E.V.L. smirked.
"Those. Don't. Count. Anyway... Can we sit here? We were hopin' to talk to you two. Assuming you can put up with my nasty excuse of a partner, that is!"
"Oh, shut it, Pony Boy."
(OOC: Jumper, if you're available to co-write with anyone, I'd love to write a mission with you! I even have a fic on the Claimed list for us to use, if you're interested! :D)
"Erm. Well. Uh, thanks?" Marvin coughed, looking to Printworthy. "Sorry. Cider. Throat. You?"
Printworthy smiled, extending a hoof to the rather unexpected fan. Although, he was somewhat used to it, from his past life. "Well, it is a pleasure to meet you too. Please, sit down." He took a look over his new guests. They were rather unique individuals. Almost certainly from Mary Sues. Even now, outside of combat, the rainbow haired one held a slight defensive stance. "I must admit, I am honored and humbled by your appreciation of our work. However, your partner is right. Here, we are all agents."
Marvin managed to stop choking somewhere in the middle of Printworthy's little speech. "So, fellas. Where you from? Home World's, I mean. I'm from World One, and you get one guess about old Prints over here." He glanced at the female, and snickered. "Hold on, let me guess. Hot Topic?" He clamped his hand over his mouth. "Sorry."
((I'm a little swamped right now, with work and woodcutting. However, when things calm down a little on my end, I may be interested, yeah. Fair warning: I take a long time to write. I'm not like Ix. I can take ages to get done with a mission. This may well take several months after we get started to publish. Not trying to dissuade you, just letting you know.))
Ajax was following close behind. "I didn't now you've seen that show."
"Well it was a while ago, Never really seen anything past season 3," Matthew answered. They both took a seat.
"Hey! Matthew and... Ajax, right?" Alex said. "Mind if we sit here?"
"Yeah, sure," Ajax said quickly.
"So I hear The Aviator is going on maternity leave," Matthew said, barely containing his freaking out. "Are you two prepared to be uncles?"
They looked at each other, askance.
"You're not the one who's going to have to live with the baby," Zeb said, bemused.
"What's this about the baby?" The Aviator reappeared, somehow managing to balance three platters of food. "Who're these?"
"They helped with the exorcism," Alex said.
The Aviator smiled at them. "Thank you."
"I found them! I found them!"
A few seconds later, Sergio and Nikki managed to reach the table by squeezing through the crowd, though both looked mildly embrarassed.
"So... Uh... Hi?" Sergio said, "We're sorry for intruding, but Corolla wasn't going to let us portal home without saying hi to her friends here." After shooting Corolla a glance, he held a hand out. "Sergio Turbo, and she's Nikki Cherryflower. We used to be in SpecOps, but we're just doing some contractor work lately"
Matthew began shaking Ajax, saying something along the lines of "She thanked us! The Aviator herself thanked us!"
Similarly, Ajax went on a tangent that could be easily summarized as "You're welcome."
After calming down, another question was raised by Ajax: "Have you decided on a name for your pu— I mean kid?"
It wasn't the first time agents had reacted this way to her, and it was just as tiring as the first. She sighed and sat down by her brother, waiting for the fit to pass. Once it had, she nodded. "Anditomilosivan," she said. "Though... I've been considering Elanorelisindrivar as of late."
"So who's the father?" Matthew began. "The Librarian? Luxury? The Mysterious Somebody back from the dead?" He got in real close, and lowered his voice a little. "Jaycacia? Little Miss Mary? Rose Potter?" Of course, these were all quoted from the Multiverse Monitor, and he didn't quite believe most of them. Better to be safe then sorry.
Zeb and Alex fell over themselves laughing at her expression. "I'm sorry, what?" she said, coughing. "How could you believe any of those?"
"I just thought it would be better to ask, just in case it was some of the latter ones." He downed some of his Orange Crush, burping. "Excuseme. But seriously though, who's the dad?"
He was worried how she'd react to such a touchy subject, but she just looked tired.
"Nobody's the dad," she said. "I'm the only parent."
"As far as I know, at least. Doc Fitz says I'm the only parent. Though knowing badfics, she's not going to be a complete clone of me," the Aviator said with a sigh.
"Anditomilsivian sounds like a good name, but I for one like Elanorelisindrivar," He said. "It just feels correct to me."
"I'm fine either way," Ajax followed up.
"Anditomilsivian sounds like a good name, but I for one like Elanorelisindrivar," He said. "It just feels correct to me."
"I'm fine either way," Ajax followed up.
"It doesn't matter if you like it or not, since the last I checked, she was not your daughter," she said coldly.
"Hey, Ave, come on, they're just trying to be nice," Zeb said.
"He doesn't have much of a filter," Ajax said. "It's best to ignore him."
"How about you guys tell us a bit about yourselves instead?" Zeb suggested. "Most people already seem to know about us, but we don't know about them."
"Well I'm from this mobile game called Puzzle and Dragons, basically a Match-3 Crossed with a Mons game," Ajax began. "I am a monster known as Psychopomp Commerce Deity, Hermes."
Zeb's eyes were huge. "Okay, that is massively cool."
The Aviator just snorted and bit into her sandwich.
"My old partner is an Andromeda," He continued. "We are both primarily Water attribute monsters, though I have a dark sub-attribute." He paused, facing Zeb. "What you might find funny is that she has Water as both a primary and secondary attribute."
"Yes in that she can only attack when water orbs are matched, no in the fact that she can attack twice, one with her total attack stat, one with half so, as sub-attributes, like my Dark and her Water only do half of a card's attack." He answered. "It's useful when pinging down high defense but low HP enemies."
"Well, that was for a really interesting thing to do," Richard Legard said, eating his beef bourguignon. "As far as I know, mass exorcisms are really rare. And first time going around Equestria too. Although I guess we'll end up there again someday. Or at Canterlot High... "
"That wasn't so exceptional, just doing an exorcism with a lot of people in a forest trying to attack us," Marina said, who was...devouring a couscous. "The opportunity of trying this form of magic was interesting however, even if it was brief." She also poured herself a large cup of coffee, before drinking it as fast as possible. "Ugh, I think I can still feel the taste of sugar in my mouth. I want to kill this Sue again."
"Yes. I never saw that much urple prose..."
Despite being high on glittery sugar, she was holding a big tray of cookies, and a tall glass of purple foamy drink. She grinned. "Having fun?"
"Only you would be still happy about that much wrongness, kiddo," said William with a stein of beer in hand. He glanced at the dark-haired practitioner and smiled faintly. "Hey, Mari."
"I don't think I had the opportunity to tell you how much I... disliked our last meeting in the Games. But we can do catch up now, and I could even invite some friends if you continue calling me 'Mari'," Marina said with an icy tone of voice.
"Umh, I'm his partner, Richard Legard," Richard said, a bit disturbed by Marina's reaction. "I guess you already know my partner, Marina–"
Euh, yes Roccia. And... Who are you?"
He casually sat on the opposite side of Marina. "But, going back to our little meet-up at the Games, it would happen eventually to one of us, and I... well, just didn't want it to happen to me."
"Oh, uh... He's Will, I'm VJ," said the girl, pointing to the warlock and herself respectively.
"It's a fairly long way before 'love and 'Mari' from where I stand. Now I can understand the backstabbing, but next time I'm doing you a favor, I'll make sure you swear to repay me."
"Nice to meet you," Richard said a bit loudly to the dark-haired Assassin. "I think I got the occasion of seeing some reports about you before. Now, how much do you know about My Little Pony? And if you don't mind, what's your complete name? I'd prefer to not use nicknames until I know you better, unless you prefer I call you VJ."
She took a big gulp of her drink, leaving foamy moustache on her upper lip. "I just enrolled, because the blondie over there," she jerked her thumb at Alex, "said something about destroying a forest, and that sounded like fun."
"Good choice." William nodded, still pretty amused by the whole situation. "Always demand a proper oath, as I've heard. We'll see, maybe one day I'll be the one in trouble and you'll be nearby. Don't know how long you live, doll, but I have all the time in the world."
"As for your recommendation, I'll be sure to press the advantage every time I can for you."
"Well, you could give it a try. I began watching the series not so lnog ago, and I admit it is pretty interesting, although I started with the movies, and well, one of them, Sunset Shimmer, is my favorite one," Richard said to Venus.
"I... could agree with that," Marina said. "At least the evolution of her situation felt rather realistic."
"I guess... doesn't look half-bad," said VJ, focused more on her food.
"So where do you guys work, again? I haven't seen you 'round the DMS."
"That's because you never leave our RC, Will."
"Really, smarty-pants? Then what am I doing here?"
VJ shrugged. "Dragged against your better judgment?"
"And I'm surprised you didn't see either of us. We have been to several events before. This karaoke night, the first award ceremony for the HG..."
"Speaking of that, Once we're done here, I want to return to the RC as fast as possible," Marina said. "Between our mission and all of this, I don't want to risk losing the trail of Nutmeg's staff."
She then looked at William, who just shook his head.
"Don't ask me."
Sarplasm quickly followed that statement. "I didn't have the opportunity to thank them. But they're so shy, I have to use use traacking spell after tracking spell to find them. And because of that, I ended up hexing much of their gear in the locals I can find."
"Fun fact, she really want to thank them for the opportunity to train with thaumaturgy while she's tracking them," Richard said.
"You didn't need to say that."
"The Shax demons are fantastic trackers... and primitive enough to not try any funny business," he added, pulling out a piece of chalk from his pocket.
"The whole idea is me using the magic of my world, as an actual training, since a form of magic needing physical samples of the target and relatively long preparations is almost useless in this job, and I'd like not restarting from scratch when I go back home someday."
"Hmm, could I have the coffee please, Marina?" Richard asked, his dish now completely empty. "I swear I can still feel the urple's taste."