In which Surhat Roac sw Caun and Roger Walters slay Lillian of Yorkshire, Mary-Sue and ostensible granddaughter of the Lady. Thanks to Joe for betaing, and you guys should seriously read these books, because, as Roger tells Surhat, they are great, and then someone would be able to do content-betaing and not just spelling and grammar.
The Protectors of the Plot Continuum belong to Jay and Acacia, and I thank them for allowing me and others, through intermediaries, to contribute to the world they created. The only parts of this story (more or less) that are mine alone are Agents Roac and Walters. The Dark is Rising and the other books in the sequence are the property of Susan Cooper. “Lillian of Yorkshire” belongs to “Akira Bane”.]
Roger Walters hurriedly turned off the alarm, then groaned. “We only just got back from the first one!”
Surhat Roac sw Caun shook his head. “I believe you may have tempted fate just now, Roger.”
“I guess I did,” Roger said. Lha-Cthul, their mon, — an adorable but odd mix of several pokémon — let out a “Charpikirtlesaur!” as Roger examined the screen at their console. “It’s another The Dark is Rising mission. Oh, goodness. This one’s worse than the last one.”
Surhat came up behind him. “May I?” Roger shifted out of the way and the text on the screen blurred, then changed into Carunai. Surhat skimmed the beginning of the story: The boy stood on the greenest hills of Wales , his almost white hair glowing like a firebrand . As he watched the sun rise , his tawny owl eyes gazed… He stopped reading. “That is…a disaster.”
“Well, let’s be better prepared this time,” Roger said. “I’ll bring my backpack, and we can bring books in case its a long wait.”
Surhat examined the screen again, then shook his head. “I don’t think we’ll need much; the story is short, though books might be useful.”
“Books it is, then,” Roger said. “I’ll stick the CAD and the Remote Activator in, too.”
Roger pulled a traveling pack out of the pile of things under his bed and emptied some books out of it onto the bed. “Oh! Remind me to make you read Animorphs, too.”
“If you say so.”
Roger picked four books out of the large quantity of them around his bed, put them in the backpack, and threw — metaphorically, lest he damage them — the CAD and remote activator in on top. Then he made his way to the console and pressed several buttons on it. “Shall we go? We shouldn’t need disguises as long as we keep a pretty low profile. Although…” He looked consideringly at the mon, which “chaaar”ed at his attention, then continued: “We could bring Lha-Cthul along and disguise him as a dog. That way we look like hikers on the ‘greenest hills of Wales’.”
“That seems reasonable,” Surhat nodded. Roger squinted at the console, then pressed several more buttons.
“All right,” he said, then gestured to the portal that had just opened on the wall: “Shall we?”
Surhat inclined his head and stepped through the portal, emerging on a beautiful and extremely green hillside in what he assumed must be “Wales”. In the distance was a young boy, perhaps thirteen, gazing, frozen, at the eastern horizon, which the sun was just peeking over. Roger and Lha-Cthul emerged behind him, Roger with his backpack slung on his shoulder, Lha-Cthul disguised as a dog. The portal closed behind them, and the boy unfroze. Simultaneously, his hair, which was glowing rather alarmingly, separated from his head, floating high into the air. Surhat frowned.
“What…?” Roger wondered, then squinted to look at the words: The boy stood on the greenest hills of Wales , his almost white hair glowing like a firebrand . “Oh.”
“Shall I keep the charges, or you?” Surhat asked.
“Can you take this turn?” Roger was looking intently at the boy in the distance. He grabbed Lha-Cthul’s leash, which Surhat assumed had come with the disguise, and began walking towards the boy. “That’s Bran, all right.”
Surhat followed, then stopped short again as something happened to the boy, — Bran — who was still staring intently at the sun as it rose: two medium-sized birds emerged from his eyes, which were floating several feet in front of him, and flew off into the distance, hooting. Surhat squinted at the words: As he watched the sun rise , his tawny owl eyes gazed into the core of the star .
“The ninety-nine curses —” Roger began, then stopped himself. “Charge for blinding Bran, too — he’s albino.” Indeed, Bran was blinking somewhat as he tried to continue staring at “the core of” the sun. As they observed, Bran began to flicker in and out of existence. Roger looked at the words again: Intrigued with it’s beauty , this boy was Bran . “Oh! I think I understand! The world is trying to put space between the two halves of the sentence! Charge for confusing the universe. Also apostrophe abuse. And strange sentence structure.”
Surhat scribbled these down, then blinked as a small, silver, fox-like creature dropped from the sky and nearly landed on top of him. It lay dazedly on the ground for a moment as Lha-Cthul ambled over and sniffed it, then jumped up and let out an adorable sort of growl. “What is that?”
Roger bent to examine the creature, which leapt back from him, its form rippling slightly as it did so. Roger tilted his head to one side. “I think it might be a milgwn,” he said. “They’re servants of the Grey King…it’s a long story. But it’s so small! It must be a Mini — did they tell you about those?”
“They did,” Surhat said, looking at the words: Son of Author , of Camelot … . . “I assume it isn’t ‘Author’?”
Roger winced: “No, it’s ‘Arthur’. Well. Hello, Author. Also: comma abuse.”
The mini-milgwn stopped growling as Roger addressed it and approached him cautiously. Roger offered his hand and the mini sniffed it, then tentatively rubbed his hand with its head.
“Does this mean we’ll find adorable pets on every mission?” Surhat asked.
“I hope so.” Another glance at the words revealed that they would have to wait for the sun to finish rising, which given the space the universe was trying to put between “He stood there” and “until the sun blazed rather pleasantly” could be some time. Roger rummaged in his pack and handed Surhat a book: “Here. This is The Dark is Rising; it’s technically the second in the series, but it’s a better starting point than Over Sea, Under Stone in my opinion.” Roger paused. “Will you understand it? It’s got a lot of things in it that I don’t think your world has…”
“I have been given an overview of World One,” Surhat said. “It was a lot of information to process, but I’m starting to make sense of things. I simply hope the translation spell carries over to all writing, not only PPC property.” A quick glance at the book confirmed that this was so.
“Well, if you have any questions, do ask,” Roger said. “I’m going to take a quick trip back to HQ to drop of Author.” A few minutes and two portals later, Roger was back on the hillside, Author safely back in Response Center #1023. He took another book out of his bag and settled down on the hillside. They sat side by side reading for a while as Lha-Cthul frolicked around on the hillside, Surhat asking Roger the occasional question about buses or the West Indies. Bran continued staring at the sun for a long time. Finally, he stirred slightly, and Lha-Cthul barked, drawing Roger’s attention back to the story. Surhat was engrossed in his reading. Roger watched Bran’s face contort oddly, then glanced at the words: Instead of with such force and violence , he had a feeling to come out here to the mountains and the rolling emerald hills . “What are they doing to you, Bran Davies?” he murmured, then nudged Surhat. “The sun seems to be blazing pleasantly now.”
Surhat blinked and lowered the book. “This is quite good.”
“Told you,” Roger said.
“I can see why you were so frustrated with…Cassandra Griffin.”
“Even so,” Roger agreed. “Can you charge for the nonsensical contrast above? I think the author might be a native French-speaker.”
“French?” Surhat asked, putting the book down carefully so as not to lose his place then making another note on the charge list.
“Another language from World One,” Roger said. “I assume World One has it, anyway. There were a couple of French students in my class in high school, and I know Désirée’s writing was definitely full of French calques sometimes. Would you like a bookmark?”
“Gladly,” Surhat said. Roger rummaged in his backpack and found a small scrap of paper, which he handed to Surhat. Surhat marked his page, then they both turned back to look at Bran, who was now glaring intently at a pair of sunglasses that had appeared in one of his hands — the world wasn’t sure which one, however, so the glasses were flickering back and forth between his left hand and his right. Finally, he decided to put them back on his face before they got broke . They watched as Bran slowly raised both his hands and finally managed to get the glasses onto his face.
“Charge for past participles,” Roger said. Surhat dutifully recorded this, making a note to investigate the possibilities of actually learning Roger’s first language, or perhaps teaching Roger Carunai. The former would probably be most practical, he reflected. Bran suddenly started, and the grass under their feet became instantly wet with dew. Roger glanced at the words: He heard footsteps behind , on the wet dewy grass .
“Yeah,” he said. “I think that’s French — it’s be something like ‘il a entendu des pas derrière, sur le…grass…mouillé…dewy’. My French clearly needs some work. Anyway. Is not being a native speaker of the language you’re writing in a charge?”
“I don’t know,” Surhat said. “I’ll mark it down tentatively and we’ll see. Can we get a bit closer?” They approached cautiously, leaving Lha-Cthul to frolick on the hillside behind them. Bran had turned around now to look at the girl who had appeared suddenly behind him. Like Bran’s hair, her “raven black hair” was floating several feet above her head.
“What a ‘Sue-ish description,” Roger said, rolling his eyes. “Of course her hair can’t just be black — it has to be raven black.”
“Shall I write it down?”
“I think the ‘being a Mary-Sue’ charge will cover it,” Roger said, as the girl’s hair changed color. Sort of. What actually happened was that a kind of white ribbon with legs ran down the left side of her hair, then fell to the ground. Her eyes suddenly glinted in the sunlight, first the same blue as the sky, then white as they reflected the ribbon’s fall to earth. Roger peered at her. “Are her eyes mirrors?” he asked incredulously. “I think they are! Look, there’s a bit of green at the bottom from the grass on the hill!”
“Having…mirrored…eyes…” Surhat said as he wrote. The girl stood silently, staring placidly at Bran, waiting for him to speak first .
“She’s very polite for a ‘Sue,” Roger said, then grimaced as he saw the next words: But somehow , he got this feeling he was in the presence of a very great lady . “You know, ‘somehow’. She’d better not be doing what I think she’s doing.”
“What?” Surhat asked, curious.
“Impersonating the Lady. Did you get that far?”
“Yes,” Surhat said, looking at the girl again and wincing at the idea. The girl’s clothing, which had heretofore been a sort of cloudlike beige mass suddenly resolved itself into a dress, which before their eyes suddenly became very, very old.
“I guess that’s ‘the old medieval styles’,” Roger said.
“I think I’ve seen that dress before,” Surhat said, squinting at it, “though it was in better condition when Sadhi Atan am Lays wore it to the university winter ball.”
Roger laughed quietly at this: “Perhaps the world is drawing on our perceptions pending further description.”
This description followed shortly thereafter: the dresses sleeves puffed out and suddenly were covered with generic, rather beige embroidery. A long moment later, Roger looked at the Words and saw
Flowing sleeves , richly embroidered
with rich gold thread upon crimson silken cloth .
The embroidery glittered in the sunlight, pulling the girl’s arms down with the weight of the gold thread in the sleeves.
“Charge for an improperly-placed line break and unnecessary clothing description,” he said, as a blue cape appeared on her back and her eyes glittered again. Surhat peered at them, then looked incredulously at the Words: Her cape azure blue , like her eyes embroidered with silver moons and stars .
“I…I think her eyes are embroidered, Roger,” he said. Roger copied him and nodded, grimacing, then recoiled as the girl’s hand detached itself from her arm to reach out, grab Bran’s hand, and give it a shake. About halfway across the gap, a rather garish ring with a large, star-shaped sapphire set into it appeared on the hand. “Do we charge for jewelry that no noble lady would ever wear?” Surhat wondered. “Even Sadhi Atan would have more sense than to wear something so…so.”
“Write it down; we don’t have to use it if we don’t need it,” Roger said.
Finally, Bran acted: He bowed instead and whispered , ” my lady . “
Roger double-checked the Words to be sure that he had heard correctly, then shook his head. “Charge for causing Bran to bow to someone other than his father.”
His jaw dropped even further at the ‘Sue’s next words: ” Bran of Camelot , doth not bow to thee . Thou areth of royaler bloodlines then thee . “
“That…that doesn’t make any sense at all,” he said. “Charge for incorrect early modern English and nonsense and…just…augh! Bleeprin!” Surhat was unsure how to react for a moment, then realized this was a request, rummaged in his robe, and produced some; Roger swallowed it dry, hyperventilated for several seconds, then calmed down. “That’s much better.”
” Pardon ? “ The word emerged slowly, becoming a question only several seconds after Bran had stopped speaking. How this was managed was unclear.
“THANK YOU!” Roger said, rather louder than was strictly necessary. “That is the first thing that has happened in this story that has made any sense at all.”
” The old ones were right , you are a questionable young fellow . But we’ll have to make due , in our quest that is . “
Roger checked the words again to be sure he had heard correctly, then frowned. “Charge for capitalization and word choice, and what does she even mean by ‘a questionable young fellow’?”
“I do not know,” Surhat said, writing these charges down. “Is Bran known for being untrustworthy?”
“No,” Roger said shortly. “When is this fic set, anyway? I realize you have no idea. That was rhetorical.”
” What quest are you talking about ? “ Bran asked. Roger nodded agreement.
” You’ll see prince Bran . “
“How can he see Prince Bran? He is Prince Bran!” Roger said incredulously. “I apologize for all the spoilers you’re getting, incidentally, Surhat.”
“Hm?” Surhat said, caught up in examining the words. “Oh, it doesn’t make very much sense to me, yet.”
” Just call me Bran . What’s your name anyways , whoever you are . “
“Question mark!” Roger said through gritted teeth. “I don’t know if I can deal with much more of this spacing!”
” Lillian of Yorkshire . “
“Why does it matter that you are from Yorkshire?” Roger wondered.
“Is ‘Yorkshire’ significant in the story of the later books?” Surhat asked.
“I don’t think it’s ever even mentioned.” Surhat shrugged.
” Okay then , but what quest do you
mean ? “
The long pause between “you” and “mean” prompted Roger to moan woefully and extend his hand to Surhat again: “More bleeprin, please.”
“Is this healthy?” Surhat wondered, mostly rhetorically, as he handed it over.
“I doubt it,” Roger said, “but I don’t care.”
” Do you remember young Will Stanton’s quest or the grail , he being the keeper of the signs and all . Well we are about to embark on a quest to help him , we shall be alone though through most of the journey . You must trust me on this fact of life , if we do not succeed the dark wins . There will be no second chance . “
“Spelling errors are one thing,” Roger said, “but these are changing the meaning of what she’s saying! ‘Do you remember young Will Stanton’s quest or the grail’ means ‘do you remember the quest or do you remember the grail’, which I am pretty sure is not what she meant to say.” His words were slightly slurred by bleeprin and emotion. “Also charge for not using colons. Also how does this involve any of the facts of life? Does this turn into slash?”
Surhat shook his head as he wrote. “I do not know.”
Then, suddenly, the world went dark, and a voice rang out:
Disclaimer : I don’t own this sereies , Susan Cooper does . Madam if you even see this , please don’t get offended and sue me . Please ?
“If you fear legal action,” Surhat said, “would it not be wiser to refrain from putting your writing in a public place? Or perhaps to make a greater effort to write well?”
“You might think so,” Roger said, shaking his head for rather longer than necessary. Then, as abruptly as the the world had gone dark, it reappeared. Just as abruptly, a human figure fell from the sky and landed on top of Bran and the ‘Sue. It failed to knock them over, however, and simply disappeared into the mass of some grain plant that had appeared around the hillside. As Roger stared, the grain waved in the wind, and voices emerged from it, muttering darkly about being trampled on by impudent humans.
He checked the Words: Night fell upon the two , as they stood barly speaking on that hillside .
“What charges?” Surhat asked.
“I don’t know where to begin,” Roger said. “I assume the guy who just fell from the sky is Night, and the world seems to have decided that ‘they stood barly speaking on that hillside’ is meant to be ‘they stood, barley speaking on that hillside’. How are we going to get rid of that…”
“I’ll write down ‘confusing the universe’,” Surhat said. “What about ‘Night’?”
Roger squinted at the Words, then winced. “You can try talking to him once they leave; I’ll follow Bran.”
“All right.” Just then, the sun blazed brightly, temporarily blinding Roger. Lha-Cthul, who had come back to sit behind where they were standing, whined loudly, and Surhat took a step backwards, tripping over Lha-Cthul to land on his back in the still-wet grass. When his vision cleared, Roger saw that they were lucky to have avoided the brunt of the sun’s “final fiery rays”, as Lillian’s medieval dress and Bran’s generic clothing were charred and smoking where the sunlight had hit them.
Meanwhile, Bran and Lillian seemed to be making up their minds to start talking, though it was taking them some time to get around to at least something very simular to conversation , at least civlized conversation .
“Spell-check!” Roger muttered. “No excuses!” Surhat noted this down. Eventually, Bran got together the energy to speak.
Finally Bran spoke in his rich welsh baritone , ” What do we have to do to help this Will Stanton ? “
“…” Roger emoted. “There are so many problems with that I don’t even know where to start. I’ll start with his voice. If it’s that low, this should be set at least a year, if not longer, after Silver on the Tree. She already asked if Bran knew Will, with the implication that he should remember, which he would, since though his memory of the battling was erased, he still knows Will and the Drews. But if there’s still a quest, it must be while the battle is still going on. Charge for messing with ages and causing Bran to forget his best friend with the possible exception of Cafall.” Surhat hurried to copy this down, though he need not have bothered overmuch, as “Lady Lillian” was in no rush to answer Bran.
Eventually, she managed to say, ” we have to find the orb of merlin’s staff . “
“This doesn’t make any sense,” Roger interjected. “More bleeprin?” Surhat sighed, but gave it to him.
” What does the orb of Merlin’s staff to do with the old one’s and such ? “
“Good questionnnnn,” Roger said, his N continuing for several seconds longer than normal.
“I won’t give you any more bleeprin,” Surhat warned him.
” Plenty it seems , I was sent here by my ultimite grandmother .
The old lady . “
“That doesnnnnnnn’t make annnnnny sennnnnnse,” Roger said. “Her ‘ultimite’ grannnnnnndmother? This is why capitalizationnnnnn is importannnnnnnnt: her grannnnnnndmother’s just some rannnnnnndom old lady. Also evennnnnnnnnn if her grannnnnnndmother’s the Lady, that meannnnnnnns by rights she’s come from Out of Time, which is imposssible. What’s innnnnn bleeprinnnnnnn annnnnnnnyway?”
“I shudder to think,” Surhat said. “Shall I charge for nonsense?”
“I guess so,” Roger said, avoiding Ns.
” How oddly charming to met you , does Will know about this quest ? “
“Charge for innnnnnfinnnnnitive misuse annnnnnnnd — nnnnnn — ooooh, I cannnn’t evennnnn curse this stupid bleeprinnnnnn! Cannnnnn you CAD Brannnnnn?” Roger glared metaphorical daggers at nothing in particular. “I’m nnnnnnnnever taking bleeprinnnnnnn againnnnnn!”
Surhat obliged his partner by taking the CAD out of the backpack and pointing it at Bran: [Bran Davies. Human male. Canon. OOC 76%.]. He checked Lillian, too, for good measure, though he was already sure what the results would be. His faith in DoSAT technology, however, had been perhaps somewhat misplaced, as rather than display results, the CAD rapidly heated up, causing Surhat to drop it, then melted. He and Roger surveyed the smoking mess on the ground. Lha-Cthul sniffed it, then growled.
“I think that’s expected,” Roger said. “We’ll pick it up before we leave.” He smiled at the lack of Ns.
” No ,why exacly should he ? It would only cause trouble . “
“Rgh, spacing,” Roger said after a look at the Words.
” He should since we’re going to risk ou lifes to find this orb of Merlin’s staff . “
Roger simply shook his head.
” It’s what I was born for , for this sole purpose Lord Bran . “
“That…does not follow,” Surhat said.
“Charge for nnnnnnnnonnnnnn sequitur,” Roger said. Surhat raised an eyebrow quizzically at him. “It’s Latinnnnnnnn for ‘it does nnnnnnnnot follow’. Latinnnnnnnnn’s annnnnnnother language from my world.” Surhat nodded and wrote as he was told.
” No one is born for one single unimportant date . “
“That’s how it works innnnnnnn this cannnnnnonnnnn, annnnnnnd Brannnnnnn should know it,” Roger said. “Charge for making Brannnnnnnnn annnnnnnn idiot. Grah, these NNNNNNNNNNNs!”
” I shall met you here tomorrow , be ready . “
“Are they going onnnnnn a date?” Roger asked, the force of incredulosity somewhat lessened by the held N. Lillian turned around, paused for approximately thirty seconds, then left before they could react. Within perhaps ten seconds, she had first faded to transparency, then collapsed to the ground and vanished. The charring on Bran’s clothing did the same, first fading, then sloughing off his clothes to fall to the ground.
“Wait!” Roger called out, too late. “We nnnnnnnneed to charge her, and I donnnnnnnnn’t think there’s annnnnnnnny more after this chapter!”
“She said she’d meet Bran tomorrow morning,” Surhat said. “I assume she will come back then.”
“Oh, right,” Roger said, relieved. “Good. We cannnnnnnn follow Brannnnnnnn annnnnnnnd nnnnnnnnnneuralyze him, thennnnnnnnn. We’ll come back for Nnnnnnnnight afterwards.” Surhat nodded. Bran had turned and begun to walk also, though with less transparency. They followed him as he walked merrliy on the road , cars passing him . They stayed off the road lest a driver distracted by Bran’s nonchalance hit them; most of the drivers were more preoccupied with glaring at Bran than with driving. Bran’s hair, still floating in the air above his head, changed to a kind of waxy yellow color and began to ripple oddly, though there was no wind. Roger cocked his head and looked at the Words; Surhat did likewise: Men driving the cars throwing him looks of intense dislike , for his flaxon hair . He threw them looks back , but it was nothing unusual for him to be looked at like that .
“What…what is flaxon?” Surhat asked hesitantly.
“I donnnnnnnn’t knnnnnnnow, but I think it’s alive,” Roger offered up. “That would explain the…interesting behavior.” Bran’s hair was now repeatedly knotting and unknotting itself in the air. Bran did not appear to have noticed. “I hope it’s nnnnnnot dannnnnnnngerous.”
Bran stopped walking to ponder: His thoughts drifted back to Lady Lillian , with her strange attractions . Her raven black hair , and the single white lock as white as newly fallen snow .
“I assume he means the streak that we saw earlier,” Surhat said.
“I assume so.”
Bran, meanwhile, was still thinking about “Lady Lillian”: She was a beauty , with her soft golden voice . And her unshakeableshyness , her grace beyond words .
“Her voice is…goldennnnnn?” Roger asked rhetorically. “Annnnnnnd why does Brannnnnn find ‘her unshakeableshyness’ attractive?”
“Also, when did she demonstrate this shyness?” Surhat asked. Roger shook his head.
Bran smiled at himself, and the sky ahead began belatedly to fill with stars. Suddenly, the light level began to flicker: some moments it was evening, others morning. Surhat looked at the words: Promising to be wonderfully beautiful , today was one of the best days in young Bran’s life .
“Is the day starting or ending?” he wondered.
“The unnnnniverse doesnnnnnnn’t seem to knnnnnnnnnow,” Roger said. “We already charged for connnnnnnnfusing the unnnnnnniverse, right?”
Abruptly, again, the world went dark, and the author’s voice rang out:
Disclaimer : Bran belongs to Susan Cooper , along with The Dark Is Rising Sequence , madam find it out of your heart not to sue me . Please ?
“Againnnnnnnn with the ‘donnnnnn’t sue me’,” Roger said, irritated. “If you knnnnnnnow it’s bad, why post it?”
“How do we get back to the hillside to meet Lillian?” Surhat asked. Roger rummaged in his backpack and retrieved the Remote Activator. He pressed several buttons, and a portal appeared before them.
“I donnnnnnnn’t knnnnnnnow how accurate this thing cannnnnnnn get; I guess we’ll finnnnnnd out,” he said, climbing through. Surhat urged Lha-Cthul through, then followed himself. The portal closed behind him, leaving the trio on the same green hillside, just after dawn. “Night” was standing blankly more or less where he had fallen; they would deal with him in a moment. The talking barley, fortunately, seemed to have gone. Meanwhile, Lillian was climbing slowly up the hill, her dress hindering her more than it helped. Roger called out to her: “Lady Lilliannnnnn of Yorkshire!”
She looked up, confused, and stopped dead. “Who are you?”
Roger and Surhat (and Lha-Cthul) headed down the hill toward her.
“We mean you no…that would be a lie,” Surhat said. Lillian became even more confused. Finally, they reached her. “Shall I charge her?”
“Go ahead,” Roger said.
“Lillian of Yorkshire, called Lady, as agents of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum we hereby charge you with the following:
- egregious errors of spacing
- blinding Bran
- confusing the universe
- apostrophe abuse
- poor sentence structure
- nonsensical contrasts
- past participles
- improperly-placed line breaks
- unnecessary and inappropriate clothing description
- wearing jewelry that would make even Sadhi Atan am Lays ashamed
- causing Bran to bow to someone other than his father
- incorrect Early Modern English
- capitalization errors
- poor word choice
- improper punctuation generally, with specific offenses against the colon and question mark
- failure to check your spelling
- ‘messing with ages’
- causing Bran to forget his best friend
- infinitive misuse
- non sequitur
- ‘making Bran an idiot’
- causing my partner to consume too much bleeprin and
- being a Mari-Suw
You have been found guilty without possibility of appeal; the sentence is death.”
“You can’t do this to me!” Lillian said, attempting to draw herself up to her full height. However, as she was not tall to begin with and Surhat and Roger were both standing abover her on the hill, this simply looked ridiculous.
“Lha-Cthul, get her!” Roger called, and the mon happily jumped up and easily knocked Lillian over backwards. It sat happily on her chest and barked at them. Lillian wailed pitifully; they ignored her.
“What are we going to do with her?” Surhat asked.
“I think it might be easiest to just throw her Out of Time,” Roger said. Surhat winced slightly; Roger did not notice. “If you’ll hold Lha-Cthul, I’ll opennnnnn a portal annnnnd toss her through.”
“What are you doing to me?” Lillian cried out. “Help! Somebody help me!”
Roger glared at her, and she fell silent, trembling. Surhat grabbed the collar that Lha-Cthul’s disguise included, and Roger activated the Remote Activator again. Soon there was another shimmery portal in the air before them: it seemed to open on what could best be described as “nothing”; the only thing comparable was the dark space between chapters. Roger shrugged and grabbed Lillian, who was still cowering in fear, then tossed her through. She screamed, then went silent. The portal closed, and Roger dusted off his hands.
“Well, that’s that. Nnnnnnnnow we go to the farm annnnnnnnd nnnnnnnneuralyze Bran, grab ‘Nnnnnnnight’, annnnnnnnd take him to FicPsych,” Roger said. Surhat nodded agreement. “I’ll just portal us to the farm.”
A few moments later, they emerged outside the Davies’ house. Bran and Owen were already up, visible through the kitchen windows, halfheartedly eating breakfast, and Roger went to knock on the door. Bran answered. His hair was now back on his head, Roger was relieved to see, and its usual non-“flaxon” color.
“Hello, Brannnnnn,” Roger said, producing the neuralyzer from his pocket and squeezing his eyes shut.
“Do I know—” Bran began, then was cut off as Roger pressed the neuralyzer button. When he opened his eyes, Bran was looking blankly at him.
“Now, Bran, you did go for a walk in the hills yesterday, but you didn’t meet anyone, and certainly not a girl claiming to be the granddaughter of the Lady, who you don’t even remember. You do, though, remember your best friend Will Stanton; how could you forget, after all? But you don’t remember the things you don’t remember normally. Also I wasn’t here — there wasn’t anyone at the door.” He hesitated then, but being professional won out over attraction, this time. “‘Bye!”
Roger hurriedly ran away from the door, leaving Bran to blink, then close it. He met Surhat and Lha-Cthul some ways away from the house. “Done! Let’s go pick up Night and go home!”
“You are no longer slurring your Ns,” Surhat noted.
“You’re right!” Roger exclaimed. “Oh, good. Also we need to get the CAD. Such as it is.”
Surhat nodded, and they portaled back to the hillside. Night was standing where they had left him; they approached hesitantly, and Roger said, slowly and clearly, “Night?”
He turned to look at them, face free of both expression and memorable features. He was wearing clothes, though they also lacked any distinguishing features, and after the mission ended, neither Roger nor Surhat could satisfactorily describe them.
“Come with us, Night,” Surhat said, coaxing. The human error took a step toward them, and Roger gently took his arm, using his free hand to open a portal.
“This way, Night,” Roger said. “Surhat, can you grab the leftovers from the CAD?”
“Certainly,” Surhat said. “Lha-Cthul, where is it?” The mon sniffed around for a few moments, then stopped and barked happily; Surhat went to him and retrieved the remnants of the CAD, then the four of them headed through the portal, back to their Response Center.
“Now we need to get you to FicPsych,” Roger told Night, who looked vaguely at him. “Oh! You responded. Do you understand English?” Night said nothing, just continued looking at Roger, who shrugged. “Oh, well. Surhat, did they teach you how to walk in HQ?”
“Yes,” Surhat said. “I think we’ll have a better time of it with Night, won’t we?”
“I’d think so. Come on, Night,” Roger said, leading him gently out the door into the corridor. Roger began whistling; Surhat blushed, then hesitantly started to sing:
Bo diw thi madyt e khenna,
E khenna ca bo vylh
Yl bo dhan e diro orna
En ys ca twm rymylh
E vylh bo, ca fi no molokh
E vylh bo, ca adym
Much more quickly than he had expected, they had arrived at the door labeled Department of Fictional Psychology. Roger was gaping at him. Even Night was looking at him curiously.
“I didn’t know you sang,” Roger said, when he had found his voice.
“There was no reason you would,” Surhat said, embarrassed. “I was in the university choir.”
“When this is over,” Roger said, “I’d love it if you’d tell me about your world.”
“I would be glad to,” Surhat said, “when this is over.”
Before they could open the door, someone on the inside did: standing in the entryway was an elderly man who reminded Surhat rather of his grandfather at first glance.
“Yes?” the man said, then noticed Night. “I assume he’s the one you’ve brought me?”
“Y-yes,” Roger said. “His name seems to be ‘Night’. He’s…a human error. The Words said ‘Night fell upon the two of them’, so he did. He seems to be unhurt, but he’s…”
“A complete blank,” the man said, then added warmly, “I’m Dr. Freedenberg, by the way.”
“Roger Walters,” Roger said, extending his hand. Dr. Freedenberg shook it.
“Surhat Roac,” Surhat said.
“I heard about you!” the doctor said. “You have an appointment with us soon, don’t you?”
“I suppose I do,” Surhat said.
“I’ll look forward to seeing you again, then. Now,” he said, turning to Night, “your name is Night?”
Night hesitated, then nodded.
“Can you speak?”
Night opened his mouth, then closed it.
“Well, we can work on that,” the doctor said. “We don’t always take complete blanks, but if he knows his name, that’s a starting point. We’ll see how it goes; I’ll be in touch. Come on in, Night.”
Night followed the doctor in, now looking somewhat agitated, and the door shut firmly behind him, leaving Surhat and Roger standing awkwardly in the hallway.
“I guess we should be getting back, then,” Roger said, then asked, “Why do you have an appointment with FicPscyh, if I may ask?”
“It’s a long story,” Surhat said. “I’ll tell it to you when I tell you about my world. I’ll want to hear about yours, too, then, though.”
“It’s a deal.” They began their walk back toward their response center, and Roger, after a moment, said, “Surhat, did our first missions seem a bit…eas—”
Surhat cut in too late: “Don’t say it!”
“—y?” Roger finished. There was an ominous rumble of thunder in the distance; Roger did not bother trying to figure out how Headquarters managed that. “Maybe I just shouldn’t talk between missions.”
“That might be a good idea.”
- rc1023 posted this