|PPC Spin-off: Black, White and... Red?
Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. Middle-earth belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. Aramel and Elian belong to me. The original Mary-Sue is called Black, White and... Red?. It belongs to Greeknelo. It can no longer be found on the net, since the author seems to have read this story, come to her senses, and taken it off. For which I am sure many of us are immensely thankful.
*bleep, bleep* "Wake up, Agent!" The voice came from a flashing red light.
"Oh, damn it," snapped Aramel, rolling off the couch and thudding on the floor. "Couldn't you have picked a better time to wake me than the middle of the night?" The only response was silence. Aramel sighed. "On the other hand, don't answer. What on earth is it?"
"For a new agent, you are remarkably impolite, Agent Aramel," the voice said dryly. "I remember you had rather better manners when you were a recruit. Perhaps you should be one again?"
Aramel bolted upright. "No, sir. I'll watch it, Angel's Trumpet, sir." Dratted flower, she thought. Someday I'll get a cow, see if I don't. She entertained herself with fantasies of having her cow chomp up the Trumpet, bit by bit.
"That's right." The voice sounded satisfied. "Save your obnoxiousness for the Mary-Sue you will be hunting."
"I'll be hunting a Mary-Sue?" Aramel was rather more pleased than she would have liked to show. How long had she gone without a mission?
"Certainly. In the Ardaverse, as usual. Agent Elian will pair with you this time. You do remember her, don't you?" Angel's Trumpet appeared to be in a very talkative mood today. But then, he always was.
"Yes, I remember her from training. Where is she?"
"She'll be along shortly. Now, take a look at the Words, will you?" The light flashed, and went off.
"What Words? You haven't given me the Words! Wait!" Disgruntled, Aramel sat down again, to wait for Elian.
She came soon enough, not even bothering to knock. "I have the Words," she said, before Aramel could say a word. "Have a look, will you?"
"Is it bad?" Aramel asked while scanning the pages. She then scowled.
"Well," Elian said, a little too sweetly, "Let's have a look. The half-human, half Istari girl with elven ears, whose Istari father, who is not one of the Five, violated her mother, tries to violate her, whereupon she runs through a so-called dimensional door, falls from the sky, lands in Helm's Deep, mumbles a few words, waves her hand and saves the day with so-called magic!" She was panting. In recruit training, she and Aramel had been the two who had been most fanatical about canon.
Aramel choked. "Let's go," she said. "I want to kill the Sue. As soon as possible."
"Remember charges," Elian warned.
"Yes, yes, whatever. I'll charge her. I'll stick her in the electricity socket!" Aramel growled, snatching her pack.
"Riiiiight. Where d'you find one in Middle-earth?"
"Bother. The Sue's bound to have one. You know these Sues."
"Yep." Elian nodded.
"All righty. What are we?" Aramel was already rummaging for the control. "I always wanted to be a Maia. You?"
"Mm. I want to be Ilmarë. You can be Erinti or Nielíqui or something."
Aramel sighed. "No go. According to the Sil, Ilmarë serves Varda, so she stays in Valinor. We could take her out, but that would be highly unlikely, if not canon rupture."
"Too bad. If I can't be Ilmarë, I'd rather not be a Maia."
"Fine. Then what? Hobbits? They don't kill."
"Let's just be Elves. I can't stand the lumpy grey skin of Orcs, and Elves have way better eyesight," Elian suggested.
"Fine, fine. Our own names will do then. Aramel of Lórien and Elian of the Havens. Deal?"
"Deal. What do we wear?"
"Oh, the normal Elven clothing Cloaks, y'know. C'mon." Aramel opened the portal, and they stepped through. Immediately, she groaned.
"What?" Elian asked. Then she looked at herself. "Oh. Oh, dear." She turned bright pink.
"You idiot machine!" Aramel was ranting to the console on the other side of the portal. "I told you to give us cloaks! I never said give us nothing but cloaks! You fix it this second, or I'll short-circuit you! Do you hear?" There was a pause, a meek beep, and then they were clad in proper clothes. "Well," said Elian, "let's get to it." They popped into whatever strange place the Sue was in at the start of the story, and gave almost identical scowls.
"Look at who's tooting her own trumpet. Look!" Aramel almost shrieked-- quietly, of course.
"To men, I am Geltradel Aralaina, princess of the thrones of elves and men. To dwarves, I am Letratella, or the dreaded one, but to elves, I am Liramaer Dinaer, or the lovely silent one. I wish I were just Aralain, but my accepted name has always been Liram (Beautiful)." The Sue was declaring.
"Ouch," muttered Elian.
"How do you pronounce a parenthesis?" Aramel wondered.
"Dunno. Aaaand, how can she be a princess of the thrones of Elves and Men?" Elian drawled.
"Yeah. Valar, Elves don't have kings in the Third Age. Unless you count Thranduil, of course. But, I mean, Half-elven Thranduilielath? C'mon..." Aramel had picked up the habit of saying "Valar" along with her disguise as an Elf.
"My black hair and dark green eyes that mystify any who look upon me them have been only to cause me persecution. My mother passed onto valar, leaving me to lead my few peoples, for my father was not of good. My perfect aim with the bow, and curious precision with the sword has served me well," The Sue stated in a sentimental voice.
Aramel choked. "Grammar," she gasped, scribbling in her notebook. "Her mother passed on to Valar? What is that supposed to mean? Few 'peoples'? 'Curious precision'? And how would she know that her eyes mystify people when she can't see her own eyes? Valar!" She turned away.
At this moment, apparently, the Sue leaped through the so-called dimensional doorway. "She's at Helm's Deep now," murmured Elian. Aramel nodded and pressed the remote control.
"You could say that," murmured Aramel, looking dismayed. A ball of-- what, black fire? Ridiculous. A ball of black fire had charred the orc in front of her, causing the body to fall on both of them. Considering that the Orc was an Uruk-hai, it was no small matter.
"They stink!" gasped Elian.
"Um, hate to say this, Ellie, but, duh."
"Don't call me Ellie!"
Elian groaned. "Here, let's get out from under this thing. One, two, heave!" They pushed and wriggled with all their might, and managed to get out from under the Uruk-hai.
"Now what?" Elian panted.
"I should say, look to the wall," Aramel commented dryly. "Behold, the great invisible barrier-thingy."
"Exactly. How do we get in?"
Orcs were screeching in fury, clawing at the air. The canon characters that Aramel could see with her enhanced Elven eyesight looked similarly stunned.
"How should I know? Let's try going through a plothole, or something. She's left one lying around, I think."
"Fine," Elian said. "C'mon."
A moment later, they were standing in the tower of Helm's Deep, scarce paces away from the Sue, who was now beginning to wake after having fallen unconscious. Aramel glanced at the Words.
"What on earth does she mean by 'she frowned when she brought them back bloody'? Valar, they brought her!"
Sure enough, the Sue was frowning at Aragorn and Legolas, who had just brought her in, and pushed them out through the already blocked door, then tugged them in again, somehow covered in blood. The door had never opened. Aramel winced.
"Doesn't take a genius to see how they got covered in blood. Obviously they smashed through the door."
Elian moaned. "Don't make me look."
Relentlessly, Aramel continued. "The door is still whole. One more charge to add to our list: messing with the laws of nature. If you go through a door, either the door has to open, or you smash it. You don't just appear on the other side."
The Mary-Sue was speaking in a soft voice that somehow everyone could hear. Aramel mentally added another line to her list of charges. "Horrible things he said, but that I should tell the tale of another time."
Aramel rolled her eyes. "Grammar," she whispered again. Elian nodded grimly.
The Sue was speaking again, having just stolen Aragorn's lines. "I am of a tribe of warriors, men, women, elves, and dwarves from another time. I am the descendant of Arwen Undomeil."
"It's Undómiel, damn it, Undómiel! With an accent, and i-e-l! And she marries Aragorn! How could her descendant be half Istari but not Human?"
The Riders of Rohan were preparing to ride, at the Sue's suggestion, and Haldir was staring like a dumbstruck fool and Théoden staring in awe and murmuring about the Sue's horse never before accepting a rider. Aramel added yet another charge. Cute animal friends that imitate Shadowfax.
The Riders had ridden out. It was originally a breathtaking sight, but the Sue had messed it all up, what with her balls of fire, and seemingly single-handedly killing hundreds of Orcs, even after losing all her weapons. Running beside Aramel in the midst of Haldir's elves, Elian muttered an expletive.
The fight was over in seemingly a moment, and Gandalf was riding to meet them. "Victory is in our hands, and you speak of a woman's beauty," he said chidingly. Aramel would have applauded, but for the fact that she did not think Liram the Sue remotely beautiful.
"Pain I have seen," the Sue "stated". Elian groaned. Aramel sighed, knowing what was coming.
Sure enough, the Sue started crying sentimentally, and turned to climb to the "highest post of Helm's Deep"-- "Helm's Deep is a valley, stupid!" Elian whispered-- and sang an "amazingly beautiful song". For some reason, it sounded like a cat screeching.
"Sure it's amazing," growled Aramel. "Amazingly ugly. And just how did an Avril Lavigne song pop into Middle-Earth? If it were Howard Shore, say, or even Enya's more appropriate songs... Avril Lavigne! I ask you!"
"Another charge," said Elian, trying to block her ears and eyes at the same time. "Let's just portal somewhere else, all right?"
"No. We have to collect charges, remember? You know what Upstairs says about skipping 'em."
Elian just sighed.
"Oh, look, Gandalf is following her around," said Aramel. "And being nice! And she's snapping at him, for goodness' sake!"
"I could take you somewhere to bathe, my lady. Dirt blemishes your beauty," Gandalf was saying.
"And he's praising her beauty now, and contradicting himself! Valar!"
"Dirt is life. Dirt will cling and it will stay, my lord. No matter if I bathe now or later I will be how I am. I'm sure my scent is not offensive, however and I am busy with my thoughts at this moment, so I shall bathe when I feel it necessary," Liram mumbled and walked away.
"So polite of her," sighed Elian. "No chance we can just do the job now?"
Aramel shook her head. "All the charges, Ellie. You're the one who said it."
"Hm-mm. Oh, and Haldir's fawning on her too."
"What?" Elian was groping for her bow. "I'll show that-that Suvian! I'll show her! Haldir!"
Aramel quickly snatched her quiver away from her. "Calm down! I know you're crazy about Haldir, but... Later! Just a bit later!"
They were forced to endure five minutes of Haldir's profuse and idiotic thanks, and Liram's cold responses. Aramel seriously considred lobbing mud at the Sue, then decided against it.
The Sue then caused the King of Rohan to stare at her in awe for seemingly no reason other than the fact that her hair was dirty. Then, she caused Legolas and Gimli to mount on "Haslet", who appeared to have only three legs, but had two tails and only one eye. Aramel shuddered.
"What the heck?" snarled Elian.
"She took parts off Hasufel and replaced them with others," said Aramel. "I think the universe took it literally."
"Oh. Why does it remind me of Hamlet?" Elian asked the air.
"Look, the Sue's met her Marty-Sam, or whatever. Meet Romai," Aramel sighed.
The Marty-Sam, Romai, turned to shake the Sue's hand. Aramel, having read the words, knew what was coming, and blocked her ears. Elian was not so well prepared, and yelped as a gigantic voice boomed from the sky. "SHE'S ON HIS LEFT."
"Ow. What was that?" Elian asked.
"An Author's Note in the middle of the chapter," said Aramel. "I hate those, especially when they're completely pointless, like this one. And I hate what she's gonna make Gandalf do in a minute."
"What's she going to make him do?"
"Young elf!" Gandalf was calling, still in that annoying coaxing voice. The Sue looked to Gandalf. "I wish to speak with you," he explained cajolingly.
"We all have many wishes, wizard. Not all wishes are to be fulfilled," the Sue said icily.
"What I don't get," Aramel gritted, "is why she forces Gandalf to talk to her when she doesn't want to talk to him. I mean, what's the point? And-- oh, look!"
"The ugly elf should be punished for her disrespect," said a man to the side. "The wench falls from the sky and decides that she can do whatever she wishes!" Aramel clapped softly. "Damn bastard-girl," the man added. Elian whooped.
"Finally!" Elian exclaimed. "The authoress managed to make a character with a brain!"
"And no grammatical mistakes," added Aramel.
"What's the guy's name?"
"Maros, or something. Listen!"
"Never call me a wench, is that understood?" the Sue was shouting.
"I will call a wench whomever I see fits the description!" the man shouted. The voice boomed from the sky again: "OBVIOUSLY NOT SPEECHLESS ANYMORE." Both the agents winced, then grinned.
"I'm really starting to like that guy," Aramel said. Elian nodded.
"Auta Miquala ORQU! No one shall call me a wench and get away with it... no one!" the Sue shouted.
"Let her try to fight me. I'd like to see her feeble attempt," the man said, earning another grin from the agents.
"Be silent, Maros," Romai snapped. "Get back on your horse and keep your mouth closed, lest I cut out your tongue."
Elian snarled. "And why should such an Orcish threat come from one of the Rohirrim?"
Aramel just shrugged. "Whatever language the Sue spoke was, it wasn't any correct Middle-Earth tongue. Another charge."
Soon, they rode to Isengard ("and since when could a whole host of people go from Helm's Deep to Isengard in one day?" wondered Elian), whereupon the Sue started crying sentimentally, thinking of her "best friends smiling brown eyes". Aramel scribbled another charge: murdering the poor apostrophes.
They were welcomed by the Hobbits. The Sue ignored them completely, staring at a black-robed figure on the top of Orthanc, who promptly vanished. Elian huffed.
"I will not let you fight him," Gandalf said, pointing.
"Fight who Gandalf?" Legolas asked idiotically.
"Who will fight him if not me!" the Sue yelled, ignoring Legolas completely. She continued to stare.
"LIRAM STOP LOOKING AT HIM!" The Marty-Sam boomed, suddenly becoming two Marty-Sams.
"What?" Aramel wondered.
"Let's see the Words. Ah, she said 'friends' instead of 'friend's', and this is the result," Elian said.
Aramel winced. "Murdering apostrophes, not to mention massacre of the innocent comma?"
"Sounds good to me."
"Lady, it seems we will not be encountering the wizard of your time," Gandalf informed, still cajoling.
"Indeed," the Sue gritted out. "Do not let your guard down, however, wizard. There is still the matter of Saruman," she stated.
Aramel rolled her eyes. "Well, duh. Does she really need to tell Gandalf that? This author seems to have the grammar, spelling, and the logic of a ten-year-old. Not that I have anything against youth. I mean, I'm just thirteen, but really..."
The Sue was snapping at Legolas, who snapped back, to Elian's delight. Then something happened which did not delight her. The Sue roughly hauled Pippin away by the scruff of his neck, fished the palantîr from the water, and handed it to Gandalf, who was meekly waiting for it.
"This is so wrong," whispered Aramel. "And look! They go from Isengard to Edoras, still in the same day!"
"Look at the words," said Elian. "They won't be comfortable until they reach the sight of Edoras. Unless I'm mistaken, this author is either illiterate-- to spell 'site' as 'sight', or merely stupid, to think that a sight can ever be reached."
"They'll never be comfortable then. So much the better. She doesn't deserve comfort," Aramel answered.
"Yes, but what about the poor canon characters..."
Aramel considered for a while. "Let's portal ahead, then."
Suddenly, the voice from the sky boomed again. "F**K YOU. I THINK YOU'LL LIVE AND IF NOT, HELLO, CHAPTER SIX, NOT ONE. IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT LEAVE YOU IDIOTIC B**CH." *
"What? Did it mean us?" Elian gaped.
"I think the authoress meant someone who disliked her story, Elian."
"Ah. There's still someone sane in the world then. Besides us," she added.
Aramel snorted. "I'm not sure we're sane. How many people hunt down and kill people that don't exist, in fictional worlds? Not to mention having flowers for bosses."
"When you put it that way..."
They portalled to Meduseld, and arrived behind a pillar. Peeking from behind it, Aramel snarled. "Look!"
Elian looked. "What's wrong?"
"Éowyn! She made Éowyn blonde!"
"Um, all right. Isn't Éowyn blonde?"
"No!" Aramel practically shrieked. "Blondes have yellow hair and blue eyes! Éowyn has golden hair and grey eyes! When I get my hands on that Sue, I'm going to kill her!"
"That's what we're supposed to do, Aramel." Elian's voice practically dripped with sarcasm.
"I'll make her beg to die, then."
"Fine. Now, where were we supposed to go?"
"Follow the Sue, I s'pose," Aramel said.
"I found that you're friends with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli," Éowyn gushed, grinning idiotically. Aramel swore and grabbed her sword, to find her arm grabbed by Elian.
"You calm down this time, Aramel," she said urgently. "I know Éowyn's your idol and all, but..."
"Let's follow her," Aramel growled. "I'll think of something. Nothing's bad enough for this one, though."
They followed Éowyn and the Sue all the way down the hall, with Éowyn getting uncomfortable around the Sue and edging slightly away from her. Not that Aramel blamed her, but if she didn't give an inch before the Witch-king, why should she retreat from a Sue?
They came to a room full of sleeping mats. "You may have this one," Éowyn said in a servile tone, causing Aramel's face to darken.
"Thank you," the Sue said condescendingly, sending the White Lady of Rohan, the Maiden of the Rohirrim, Éowyn daughter of Éomund scurrying out like a mere servant girl!
A bit later, a real servant entered, meek and humble, telling the Sue that the Lady Éowyn requested her to wear a dress. They could all hear her response clearly.
"And what does she find wrong with my attire, because I do not wear frilly things that are inappropriate for my duties," Liram's eyes narrowed.
"Strange. Did you ever hear eyes say anything? Or rather, did you ever hear eyes narrow anything?" Elian commented. Aramel just grunted, biting ler lip.
"Only the weak wear those things," the Sue continued.
It was the last straw for Aramel. Rushing out, she bodily grabbed the Sue and hurled her upon the mat, pinning her hands beneath her. "You're dead," she hissed.
The Sue started screaming. "Whooo aaaare yoooooou! Aragorn! Legolas! Gandalf! Gimli! Romai! HELP MEEEEE!"
Aragorn groped for a sword that wasn't there. Thankfully, the Sue hadn't interfered with the door-wards, and they had done their job. The only person whose weapons had not been taken away was Romai.
"Scream. Go on. I want them all here to see. Elian, would you mind dealing with the Sam?"
As if on cue, the mentioned members of the Fellowship, as well as Éowyn and Romai, appeared. The last found himself looking down one of Elian's arrows.
"Romai Marty-Sam, I charge you of being a Marty-Sam, helping a Mary-Sue show off, and threatening Maros, who's a perfectly nice guy. Any last words?"
"What?" gaped the Marty-Sam.
"Waste of last words," commented Elian, shooting him through the throat. He fell in a heap.
"Romai--" croaked the Sue.
"Shut up," gritted Aramel. "Liramaer Dinaer Aralain--did I mention I have an aversion for Sues whose names are like mine?--you are charged with--" she took a deep breath, "being an impossible hybrid bastard wench, terrible grammar, thinking that "valar" is a place, twisting the laws of nature by falling out of the sky, doing an impossible magic barrier just so you could save the day, twisting the laws of nature by pushing Aragorn and Legolas outside the door and pulling them in again without the door opening, singing an Avril Lavigne song, torturing the languages of Middle-Earth-- since you didn't specify whether it was Sindarin, Quenya, Qenya, Noldorin, Doriathrin, Silvan, Telerin, or whatever, I'll count all of them, and Dwarven besides, since Khuzdûl is much harsher than that--, misspelling Undómiel, having Cute Animal Friends, single-handedly killing hundreds of Orcs, being rude to Gandalf, mutilating the geography of Middle-Earth, murdering the poor apostrophes, massacre of the innocent comma, being so stupid as not to distinguish between 'sight' and 'site' or else doing it on purpose which is worse--" she took another deep breath, then plunged on-- "annoying PPC agents, hitting on PPC agents' lust objects--" Elian turned red at this-- "being a Mary-Sue, and moreover making Éowyn blond, making her act a fool, and making her act like your servant!" Aramel roughly hauled the Sue up and pushed her to her knees in front of Éowyn. "And most of all for calling her weak! For this you are condemned to the most painful death we can contrive. You will have last words, and they will be an apology to the Lady, or else." She glared at the Sue, who trembled visibly, but didn't say anything.
"Speak!" snarled Aramel. "'My lady, I am not fit to lick your shoes. I am very sorry for all the horrible things I did to you. For this, I deserve to die the most painful death in the history of Middle-Earth. Before I go, I humbly ask your forgiveness.' Say it!" She shook the Sue thoroughly.
"M-my lady, I am n-not fit to l-lick your shoes. I am v-very sorry for all the- the horrible things I did to y-you. For this, I deserve to d-d-die the most painful d-d-death in the history of M-Middle-Earth." Here the Sue ceased, whimpering.
"Say the rest!" Aramel ordered.
"B-before I go, I h-humbly ask your f-forgiveness." The Sue broke down in sobs.
Éowyn considered her for a long moment, then turned away from the sobbing Sue. "Thank you," she said calmly, "my ladies--?"
"Just Aramel. Aramel of Lothlórien, and Elian of the Havens," Aramel said breathlessly, awed by the fact that her idol had spoken to her. Thanked her, in fact.
Elian spoke up. "Well, my lady, with your leave, I think we should take this one--" she nudged the Sue with her foot-- "somewhere else."
Éowyn nodded, stepping aside, and Aramel turned to Elian. "Would you mind getting my sword? It's in my pack. I put it there so the doorwards wouldn't take it away." When Elian handed her the sword, she detachedly poked the Sue in the posterior, just hard enough to draw blood. The Sue screamed, then went limp after a while. Elian raised her eyebrows.
"Nope, just paralyzed. She'll wake in a while. Let's go."
They headed out, leaving behind certain bemused canon characters. "Where to?" Elian asked.
"I was considering it. Maybe we could hand her over to the one she calls her father, but we have to kill him too. Maybe Barad-dûr again," Aramel said. "Yes, Barad-dûr will do very well."
"Fine. What'll you tell Sauron?"
"That she's a descendant of Lúthien. She claimed to be descended from Arwen, didn't she? Well, we'll see how Sauron feels towards Lúthien."
Elian whistled. "Clever. So she seals her own doom."
"Yes. This time, I think I'm going to watch. I'm sure Upstairs won't begrudge us a day or so. Once I've seen her scream, I'll be content with the knowledge that it's what she'll be doing for years," Aramel said grimly. "Or maybe we can take her back to Headquarters. There are plenty of ways to make her miserable."
Elian thought for a moment. "You know, I still rather like the first idea. The second merits consideration, but I don't think Upstairs would like it."
"Fine! Fine! As long as she doesn't seduce Sauron, or something."
They portalled to Mordor, just outside the Dark Tower. Looking down, Elian saw that they were Orcs. She shuddered.
"We must see the Great Eye," Aramel was saying to the guards. "We have a prisoner."
The Orc squinted at her. "Name? No, wait, don't tell. You're the one that brought a prisoner last time." He grinned.
"Indeed," said Aramel. "Did the last one give any trouble?"
The Orc barked a harsh laugh. "None. She gave lots of fun, though." Aramel nodded.
"Take us to the Great Eye, please."
As they puffed and panted their way to the top of the tallest tower in Middle-Earth, Elian growled, "Stairs! I swear, I will never climb another stair after this!"
"Hush," whispered Aramel.
Soon, they came into the presence of the Eye. "Ow!" muttered Aramel, as the tips of her hair and her eyebrows were singed. "My Lord, could you please turn the heat down a bit?"
The Eye obligingly did. Hurry up, it said impatiently, trying to tap a foot, only to find that it didn't have one. Instead, it rolled. Who is this?
"She claims to be a descendant of some She-Elf called Lúthien Tinúviel," said Aramel. The Eye flared in anger.
Take her to the Vaults of Unending Tears, the Eye commanded. Tell them I said to give her special attention.
"Yes, sir," said Aramel, and they hastily bowed their way out.
On the way down, Elian asked, "'Vaults of Unending Tears'? Did you know Sauron was so... poetic?"
Aramel shrugged. "Maybe it comes with being a Dark Lord. Do you have any idea where these 'Vaults of Unending Tears' are?"
"Ummm... no. We can always ask our way around, though," Elian said.
"Fine. You there!" Aramel pointed to a passing Orc. "Tell us where the 'Vaults of Unending Tears' are."
The Orc growled. "Iffen ye dunno that, yer daft," he said. "Turn down that way, and then to the left."
The agents hurried down the corridor. "Daft!" Elian snarled. "I'll give him daft!" Aramel hushed her.
The 'Vaults of Unending Tears' were a series of smoky chambers lit with a strange phosphoresce. Aramel shivered at the ghostly sight of blue glowing smoke. "You know what this reminds me of?"
"That Gollum torture chamber we saw at the start of the first movie," Aramel answered.
"Oh well, I suppose all torture chambers look alike," said Elian philosophically.
"I have a weird instinct that this is the same place. Oh, she's waking."
Indeed, the Sue had begun to stir. "Time to call in the guards, I think," Aramel continued. Raising her voice, she bellowed, "JAILER!"
A figure emerged from the smoke. "What is it?"
"Uh, we bring a command from the Great Eye. He commands that you pay special attention to this prisoner. Please the Great Eye, jailer."
The Orc jailer, or questioner, or whatever, bowed. "As the Great Eye commands." He roughly grabbed the Sue and stuffed her onto a nearby rack.
Aramel grinned in satisfaction. Elian tapped her on the shoulder. "Come on. We have a wizard to kill, remember?"
“What? Oh, right, we do. Pity.”
"Hmm. Do you have any ideas on how to find him?"
"Follow your nose!"
The wizard was easy enough to find. The agents perched on one of the spikes on the top of Orthanc, and stared down at him. "If this wizard's so damn powerful," muttered Elian, "how do we kill him?"
"The killing part is easy. The thing is, how're we supposed to charge him, and then kill him before he kills us?"
"What did you do to the Sue, Aramel?"
"I pinned her hands beneath her so she couldn't hurl her fire, remember? But I don't think it'll work with this one. He doesn't have to use his hands, maybe. I don't know, since I haven't seen him actually use much magic. I daren't risk it. It's a pity, really. We should've made the Sue do him in, and then captured her. Well, too late now."
"Maybe we could ask Gandalf to help. Only that would be canon breach. Wait, I have an idea," said Elian.
"What?" asked Aramel.
"You climb down from here, and when you're almost there, I'll shoot him. Then, you charge him. If you're quick, you should be able to do it before he dies."
Aramel raised her singed eyebrows. "Why is it that I am the one who needs to go near him?"
"Because I'm the one with the bow, remember? And because you're blind-as-a-bat without your glasses--"
"Not in this disguise," Aramel interrupted.
"Well, you can't shoot straight in any case. So, what're you waiting for?"
Muttering, Aramel produced a coil of rope from her pack. "Here," she said, handing it to Elian. "Loop it around that thingy."
"It's a horn, Aramel. A horn. Is that so very hard?"
"Whatever! Just do it before I lose my nerve!"
Elian sighed, and looped the rope around the horn. Aramel gingerly let herself down. The black-robed man turned-- and promptly loosed a ball of fire. Aramel barely managed to duck. It missed her head, but singed her hair to the roots, and ignited the rope. Swallowing a coarse word, Aramel waited for Elian to fire.
There was a whoosh of feathers, and the black-robe staggered, clutching his right chest. Aramel whooped and ran forward. "What's-your-name, I hereby charge you of being a Mary-Sue's father, helping her angst, appearing on Orthanc when nobody's supposed to be there except Saruman, Wormtongue, and a few Orcs... I think that's it. Any last words?"
The black-robed figure gurgled and went still. Aramel raised her eyebrows. "None, I guess." Gingerly grabbing the burning rope, she touched it to the man's robes, and watched in satisfaction as the flames lapped up the body.
"Fitting," shouted Elian, "but how do I get down?"
"I have more rope," Aramel shouted back. Elian groaned loudly.
"If I could get down to get the rope to get down, I wouldn't need a rope to get down, you... you ninnyhammer!"
"Watch the language, will you?" Aramel called. "Maybe you could portal back..."
"Against orders, remember? Upstairs won't like it."
"I doubt Upstairs would like it if you stayed up there for years. Just think of all the work they wouldn't be able to get out of you!" Aramel was frustrated and impatient, and when she was either frustrated or impatient, she was rather sarcastic. When she was both, she was rather cutting. Or simply very sarcastic, depending on the circumstances. "I do not think that clinging to the top of one of the thingies of Orthanc makes for a very relaxing vacation, thank you very much!"
"Fine! Fine!" Muttering, Elian fumbled with her remote control and vanished. A few moments later, she appeared beside Aramel. "You get to tell the SO why I portalled back halfway, though."
"Do you really have to ask?"
Aramel thought for a moment. "Actually, no."
The agents stood for a while in silence, staring at the far-off sight of Edoras that could never be reached. "Weird. Weren't things supposed to change?" Aramel wondered.
Elian flipped through the Book of Rules. "I think we have to kill all the characters that the Sue brought into existence."
"We already have."
"Haven't. Remember Maros?"
Aramel groaned. "We have to kill him too? But I liked him!"
"He's a bit character, Aramel. You know the Rules. He can't possibly stay in Middle-earth."
"But he was perfectly canonical!" Aramel came the closest she had ever come to whining.
"He was made by the Sue! If he stays in Middle-earth, the canon will be further disrupted, which means that Upstairs will be nuts over it!"
Aramel sighed. Elian pushed the button on her remote, and they portalled back to Meduseld, to seek Maros.
They found him just outside the doors, staring broodingly into the East. Elian drew her bow, aiming for the man's heart. Aramel winced and turned away.
"Charge him," Elian urged. "Go on."
Aramel took a deep breath, and walked forward to stand before Maros. "Maros," she said, "You are hereby charged of being a bit character and enabling the Sue to show off-no fault of yours, really. Thus--" she paused a moment, and continued. "You are offered a choice. You may die here, in front of the doors of Meduseld, and it will be as if you never existed. None will remember you, not even your own mother. Or you can come with us, to somewhere else. Make your choice."
The man regarded her with grave and wary eyes. "Who are you?" he queried. "And what may the Elves desire of a mortal man? We have heard of the peril of the Elven-realm yonder." He gazed to the northeast, in the direction of Lórien. "If it is to Dwimordene that you will take me, then I will not come, though you slay me. I would die as myself, rather than live as a witless and ensorcelled man, a mere toy for the sorceresses in the Golden Wood."
"Lórien is a very nice place, actually," remarked Aramel. "But no, we're not taking you to Lórien. Now will you come with us?"
"I may as well," the man replied.
"Wonderful! Elian, do put the bow down. I think we have a new recruit here!"
Elian grinned. "Upstairs might rage over this, but I do believe it's a good idea. I'll take him back, shall I? Then we'll see if anything changes." Without waiting for an answer, she grabbed Maros's hand and portalled away.
The change was astounding. For a moment everything blurred, and then it settled back in place. Aramel gasped in wonder, for she saw Meduseld as it truly was: golden and glorious and strong, the mighty hall of kings; and as far as the eye could see stretched the wild and free grasslands of Rohan.
"Nice, isn't it?" murmured Elian, reappearing. “C'mon. Mission accomplished.” Taking Aramel's hand, she portalled them back to HQ.
Maros was wandering about nervously. He was not at all sure where he was, or what his captors-he thought of them as such, for all he had agreed to come-meant to do with him. He had a foreboding that it probably wouldn't be good.
A black hole opened beside him, and the two Elves stepped out of it. Only they were not Elves anymore, just two girls little older than fourteen. He was more confused than ever. How had two girls managed to pose as Elves, and how had they dared to threaten him with death?
"Ah, there you are," said the taller, dark-haired girl whose hair and eyebrows were both singed, the one who had offered him the choice. "Come with me. We're going to see the SO."
Wondering briefly what an SO was, he followed her.
"Don't look," she told him.
"Don't look at your surroundings."
Maros wondered why he had been warned not to look. No doubt it was some sort of eldritch sorcery. He kept his eyes focused on the girl.
Soon, in some bizarre way, he found himself standing in front of a door. The girl opened it and walked in without even knocking, and he followed-- and stopped short, gaping. Behind a desk in the room sat a giant sunflower.
*Well, what's this?* the flower spoke, only it didn't have a mouth. Maros's mind was still reeling from the strangeness of it all.
"Someone we picked up in a fandom, sir." The girl grinned, and plumped down in a chair. Maros found the fact that she called the flower "sir" strange, considering that she had stormed into the room without any notice whatsoever, and without a bit of ceremony.
*You brought a Sam back here?* the flower sounded horrified, and wagged a frond. *You do realize that this means no pay rise?*
"In fact, sir, you should be giving me double pay rise. I just recruited a new agent for you. "
*Him?* the sunflower frowned. *Sooner turn me into paper!*
"I'm sure it could be managed, sir. We are in need of toilet paper." The girl took a step towards the flower, and made to grab it. The sunflower frantically waved its fronds.
*It was a figure of speech! Just a figure of speech!*
The girl let her hand drop. "Does this mean that you agree, sir?" she asked, a little too sweetly.
*All right! Take him to the uniform-maker, or something! Go!*
"What about the pay rise? The double pay rise?"
*Fine! Fine! Now go!*
The girl walked out, and Maros followed her. The door slammed behind them, and they could hear the click of a lock. The girl glanced at the door, then shrugged.
Aramel walked to Míriel's workshop, being careful not to notice the mazelike corridors, in case she got lost in them. Maros tagged along beside her.
"Here we are," she announced, halting in front of a door. Entering, she called, "Míriel! Are you there?"
Míriel was a canon character from Middle-Earth. Theoretically, they weren't supposed to bring canon characters out of the fandom, but since they couldn't spare anyone to make uniforms, and since Míriel was already dead, the Flowers that Be had made an exception. Míriel's needlework was wonderful, and quick to boot; her only problem was that she liked to add... embellishments. The last time Aramel had visited her, she had spent no little effort convincing Míriel that Jay would most certainly not appreciate lace embroidery on her new uniform.
"Hello, Aramel," Míriel beamed, speaking in fluent but slightly accented English. It had taken them a while to teach her English, especially since Agent Sil, who was the only one who could speak reasonably accurate Quenya, was almost always on a mission. To her credit, Míriel was a fast learner, and now spoke English as hurriedly as she spoke Quenya. She had a slight lisp, though**.
"We need another uniform, Míriel," Aramel replied. "With no... decorations. Except for the cactus. You can embroider the cactus, if you really desperately want to."
Míriel grinned. "Come here," she beckoned to Maros, and busily started measuring and tangling him up with her measuring tape. Laughing to herself, Aramel slipped off to the doctor's, hoping that they did have a cure for singed hair. It turned out that they didn't. Disgruntled, she went back to her quarters.
"You're back," said Elian, rather pointlessly.
"Angel's Trumpet called. He said that I may or may not be going with you on the next mission. Which is just like saying nothing, since I don't see a third option."
"Are you listening? Aramel? No! Don't get comfortable--"
*The original was more... explicit. For the sake of decency, we have replaced some of the letters with asterisks.
**Míriel did not have a lisp. It was just her way of pronouncing the letter "s". See the Shibboleth of Fëanor, in HOME XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth.