The sign by the door read, "Playpen. Keep door closed at all times." Scribbled underneath with red crayon and triple underlined was the word, "Please". Underneath that was a note that said, "Enter at your own risk." And at the bottom, in very fine print, "Don't say I didn't warn you."
Allison took all the warnings and commands into consideration, threw open the door and ducked. A tangerine narrowly missed her and splattered against the wall across the hall way. Allison closed the door and waved a white sheet of paper. "I come in peace."
"Hi, Allison." A young man appeared from behind a car wreck. "Hold your fire, guys. She's good people."
Allison waited a moment and when there was no further volley of fruit fired in her direction, she got up. "Hi. Who are you?"
"Trent? Last time I saw you, you were this high."
"I've grown a bit. I'm not a little boy any more. I'm sixteen."
"Sixteen? Seems like only yesterday you were ten."
"That would have been six years ago."
"I hate to think how old that would make me."
"I'm sure you'll always be young at heart, Aunt Allison."
"Don't call me Aunt."
A pause fell, during which the two of them just looked at each other. In the background, sounds could be heard of the minis modifying their fruit sling.
"So... what brings you here?"
"I'm looking for Tasmin. Have you seen her?"
"Not in a while. Have you tried... oh."
"I think you'll better sit down for this."
"No need to be considerate of my sensitivities. Tell me."
"Tasmin came to see me. She's been in an accident."
"An accident? Is she all right? She came to see you after she had an accident?"
"It was a time travel accident. She wasn't specific about how it happened. She told me she ended up three years in the past and that she was getting a transfer to another department."
"She's no longer my partner? I've got a new mission and now I need a new partner too? I hadn't even broken in the old one yet."
"What fandom is it?" Trent asked.
"I've seen that. Can I come?"
"You want to come on a mission, with me?"
"At least you speak with two words. I don't know. What would Tasm-"
"Tasmin isn't here. Besides, there are plenty of sixteen-year-old agents. C'mon, Au-"
Allison raised a warning finger.
"Allison," Trent hastened to say. "Can I come, please? Pretty please?"
"What about the minis?"
"They have food and they have weapons. They'll be fine."
Allison looked the boy over. He was almost bouncing with excitement. "I've run out of counterarguments. I guess you can come on this mission."
"Thank you, thank you. You won't regret it."
"I'll bet Tasmin will be the judge of that."
Trent looked around the generic grey room. "I thought you said we were going into the story. This looks just like Headquarters."
"We are in the story."
"But there's nothing here."
"That's because the author forgot to mention it. We could be anywhere. A park." A park started to take shape around Trent and Allison. "A diner." The park lawn was replaced by some tables and chairs. "We could even be in Hannibal's childhood bedroom." Tables and chairs made way for a bed and toys. "Scenery is not all she forgot to mention." Allison pointed at Hannibal, who was crouched down on the floor over a map, seemingly talking to himself.
"Here is the main entrance, me and you will be entering here, you drive the car and you're on lookout" He said pointing out different passions and explaining everything out. "Now, if we are going to do this we have to do it fast, they are on total lockdown on this case, we have to get in and out as fast as we can" He said "Okay, The office is on level 22, we do this Friday" He said.
"Here, you take notes." Allison passed a pen and the mission assignment sheet, which she had previously used as a white flag, to Trent. "I'll dictate. Charge, making Hannibal present a bad plan. If he wants to steal something from the 22nd floor, he'll probably need more than one lookout between that floor and his getaway car. Charge, repeating 'said' until it becomes obtrusive, and charge, not even using the simplest option available to show that Hannibal is not some mad hermit talking to himself."
"What's that?" Trent scribbled as fast as he could to keep up with Allison.
"If Hannibal had simply addressed some other people by name, rather than calling them 'you', they would have been in this scene too."
Hannibal got up and folded the map. After he stuffed it in a pocket, Face appeared next to him and a big office building in front of them. The rest of the scenery also started to convert to look like a business district.
"Wow, does this happen often?"
"Sometimes. Some stories are defined enough from the beginning, others seem to take place in the middle of nowhere. Can I ask you something? You remember what it was like in your fic. Didn't it ever bother you that you didn't have neighbours?"
Trent shrugged. "We lived on a ranch."
"That would make sense."
Hannibal and Face went into the building. Allison and Trent followed. They pushed through the revolving doors and entered the lobby just in time to see Hannibal direct Face to the stairs.
"He needn't instruct him here if he had instructed him before they left."
Trent tried to walk and write at the same time. He sped up to follow Hannibal into the lift, but Allison stopped him.
"The Sue's going to join him in this lift. She can see us, and it would be better if that didn't happen too soon in the fic."
"But how do we know if anything chargeable happens in the fic if we don't see it?"
"We have the Words." Allison pointed in the distance.
When Trent looked he saw red lettering scrolling by.
When he got in there were 3 people in the elevator 2 got off at level 10 and the other person got off at 15. At level 17 and young girl wearing a black over coat, black tights and black stilettos walked in with a suitcase.
"Someone forgot to enter punctuation between the letters."
"Yeah, that's a charge. Add it to the list."
Over a listening device she wore in her ear, the Sue heard that she should get out of the lift. The Sue made the lift stop at the next floor and got out. She said goodbye to Hannibal. The fact that she mentioned his name was enough reason for him to change his original plan. He ran after her and told Face she was coming his way.
"How does he know she has anything to do with what he came to get from that 22nd storey office?"
"Mysteries like that are what sets badfic apart from goodfic. Goodfic doesn't make you immediately question the story's logic."
Trent turned the mission sheet over and made a note. Allison raised her eyebrows in a questioning fashion.
"This is useful information," the young man explained.
The Sue ran into the stairwell. When she heard someone run up the stairs towards her, she turned to run up the stairs too. She pulled a gun from her coat.
"Stop and give me the case" He said running after her.
"Who do you think said that? Hannibal or Face?" Trent asked.
Allison shrugged. "Could be any male, really. Either one is probably the safest bet." She smirked. "Charge again for not being very specific. There's no real reason to keep the identity of this man a secret, so why do it? It only annoys readers if they find out they had been picturing the wrong person running up the stairs."
At the top of the stairs, the Sue turned into the corridor and ran towards the stairs that lead to the roof. The man followed her onto the roof. He saw her jump over the edge.
He went over and saw her pulling out a gun and shooting out a long rope and it wrapped around the flag pole a few stories down she kept falling until she got near the ground and stopped. He let go of the gun like thing and landed on the sidewalk she walked over to the road and hailed a taxi.
"Wow," Trent said.
"She's special, isn't she?"
"Nah, my sister could have done that, if she'd been a few years older."
"I have seen your sister. She didn't have three hands."
"This Sue has three hands?"
"She must have. She's holding on to a suitcase, a gun she pulled from her coat, and then she pulls another gun from her coat."
"Maybe she..." Allison's look made him fall silent. "Is this another of those things that set badfic apart from goodfic?"
"It is. Charge, mysteriously getting rid of a gun. And what the hell - running on stilettos with a suitcase, packing Batman's equipment, and managing to safely land on the ground after a drop of some two hunderd feet."
"The two hundred feet of rope she was carrying underneath her coat. Only Batman and Spiderman have material that is strong enough to carry a person over that distance, and light enough to be carried by a person."
"I just noticed that she was holding on to the rope rappelling thing with one hand. She didn't have a safety harness or anything. If that thing was supposed to break her fall, it should have been yanked from her hand when she ran out of rope. Or she has claws of steel."
"Ankles of steel, too. Running on stilettos? I'm sure Tasmin would have had something to say about high heels, running and ankles."
"I don't think claws and ankles of steel were part of Batman's equipment. And I'm sure he didn't have heels. Batgirl had heels. They were about this high." Trent held his thumb and forefinger an inch and a half apart.
"Conclusion, the Sue is out-doing Batgirl."
The faceless man walked back to Hannibal and reported that the Sue had gotten away.
They got back to the Army head quarters. They went to Mr. Dawson's Office/Tent.
Which was conveniently located on the third floor of the office building. Trent and Allison stepped into a lift and went to the third floor. They positioned themselves just outside Dawson's office to listen in on the conversation.
"Reporting to someone within the Army who doesn't have rank," Allison said.
"Reporting to anyone in the Army," Trent said. "I guess this fic is set prior to the movie."
"Or in the middle of it, if BA and Murdock make an appearance."
"He's called Bosco in the movie."
"I know. I'm not quite used to that."
The first person to make an appearance, however, was the Sue. She stepped away from behind a door and introduced herself.
"I'm Agent Sophia Marks, with the C.I.A., don't blame him though I was assigned to this, I didn't even know that the army was on this too" She said
Face was most surprised and asked how old she was.
"I like how Face doesn't acknowledge her as a person and talks about her rather than to her," Allison said.
The Sue, on the other hand, didn't like this.
"I'm standing right here, and I'm 15, I was adopted then they died, and I'm an America but raised in Ireland, my adoptive parents were here on their hols and my mum ended up in hospital, where I was abandoned, so they adopted me" Sophia said. B.A. and Murdock looked at each other.
"Do I need to list the charges or will you be able to manage on your own?"
"Most of what she said didn't even make grammatical sense. How am I supposed to distil charges from that?"
"Bad grammar is a charge, too."
"Uh, bad grammar, fifteen-year-old working for the CIA..." Trent looked at his notes on the back of the mission assignment sheet as if the answer was already printed there.
"Take your time. This Sue is not going anywhere."
"She claims to be an America. She seems to have been adopted after not much procedure."
"Very good. And BA and Murdock appeared out of nowhere."
Hannibal was stunned to hear a fifteen-year-old was working for the CIA, so the Sue elaborated. She had caught a bank robber and that had impressed the CIA so much they wanted to further train her.
She said smugly
"At least she got that right."
The Sue said she was always up for adventure. Dawson added that was why she was going to be part of the Team for further training and learning. Hannibal asked her what she already could do.
"I can ride horses, Twi Kwan Do, Fly, Jump of building, Drive Cars and Motorcycles, practically anything, like I said earlier, I love Adventure" She said
"You Fly?" Murdock asked, she nodded "I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship" He said
"Do you have a gun? I want to shoot this Sue, now."
"I don't have a gun. I'm sixteen."
"So? This Sue is fifteen. And she has a gun."
"That's because she's a Sue and I'm, well, not."
Allison eyed Trent. "I guess I'll have to grant you that."
The Sue walked out of the room. The Team heard a bang and when they came out to see what had happened, they found the Sue lying on the floor with a woman and a boy sitting on top of her.
"Hannibal, I think our brand new bestest friend is in a bit of a pickle," Murdock said.
"She'll be all right," Hannibal said. "She knows Twi Kwan Do." The Team laughed. Hannibal lit a cigar and the Team walked out on the Sue. "Did I ever tell you about that time I..."
"This is good," Allison said. "The Team trying to help out the Sue would have been bad."
"I guess we should be thankful that the Sue has instilled a firm understanding in the Team that she can handle herself."
Allison looked at Trent. "Who taught you to use words like instil and understanding? You're sixteen. You shouldn't talk like that."
"I don't know what's happening to me. I feel rather strange, ever since you tackled that Sue."
"Get off me." The Sue tried to kick her legs free.
"Lie still. It's much more comfortable that way. At least for me." Allison pressed down the Sue by her shoulders, her knees pinning down the Sue's arms.
The Sue scowled at Allison.
"Would you do the honours of charging?"
"I haven't the slightest how I should go about that. I do feel we should do this most hastily." Trent had his arms wrapped around the Sue's legs.
"Probably. Sophia Marks, we are Protectors of the Plot Continuum and we are here to charge you with crimes against fanfiction. Usually, we also charge with crimes against fandom, but since the only thing you did was not have Hannibal brief Face properly, there is not much to charge there." Allison took a deep breath before she started rattling off charges. "We charge you with bad punctuation, bad grammar and bad spelling. We charge you with never being clear on who is where. We charge you with being able to run on stiletto heels and with jumping off a building. That is off with two f's by the way, not one."
The Sue continued to squirm.
"Wouldn't you rather have learned an actual sport?" Allison asked. "We charge you with making people and weapons appear and disappear, with carrying two hundred feet of rope under your coat, and with seemingly having stolen Batman's equipment. We charge you with being utter awesome sauce: fifteen-year-old CIA recruit, out-smarting the A-Team, being able to fly and ride motorcycles. In short, we charge you with being a Mary Sue. Any last words?"
"Last words? What do you mean? You can't make me stop talk-"
Allison squeezed her hands down on the Sue's windpipe, thus forcing her to stop talking. After the Sue stopped spasming, Allison felt for a pulse. She wouldn't put it past this Sue to be able to fake her own death. "She's dead." Allison got up.
Trent let go of the Sue's legs and scrambled up. He cleared his throat. "I feel better already."
"Now for that Dawson."
"What are the charges against him?"
"Aiding and abetting a Sue. Conspiring to make the Team behave out of character."
"I think he ran out of the room when you were charging the Sue. Do we have to find him?"
"Nah." Allison grabbed the Remote Activator from one of her pockets. "He was minor. I don't think he will do much damage on his own."
After dropping the Sue at the incinerator, Allison and Trent took a portal to Allison's Response Centre. Allison explained that portalling within Headquarters was strictly not allowed, but since there weren't actually any corridors leading to or from the incinerator room, necessity required that rule to be broken.
"I think the Flowers that run the PPC put the incinerator somewhere unreachable on purpose, so they could dock us pay for breaking rules."
"That was fun," Trent said. "Can I come with you some other time?"
Allison quickly glanced at the console.
"Now is usually the time the Laws of Narrative Comedy kick in." She glared at the console for a while, but when nothing happened, she turned back to Trent and smiled. "Sure, any time. Maybe next week."
Allison ducked her head between her shoulders. "Or right now."