Return to the Cosmos
"Right," the Sunflower Official said. Or he would have said if he had had a mouth with which to speak. His words nonetheless boomed through the office. "You know why you are here?"
Allison stood in front of him, feet apart, hands behind her back. "To congratulate me on a first mission well done?" She tried, but she knew it wasn't true. The Sunflower did not hand out compliments. It was company policy.
"Hardly so," the booming voice replied. The Sunflower browsed through some papers lying before him. "On your first mission you missed out on numerous charges, killed the Sue too soon, left the body behind and talked to canon."
"They talked to me first," Allison said in an attempt at defense.
"Well, that's all right, then."
Allison eyed the Sunflower carefully. Sarcasm should really only be used by people, she thought, people with faces. So you could tell from their eyes what they were really thinking.
"What are we gonna do about you?"
A rhetorical question? Or was she supposed to come up with a punishment for herself? Undoubtedly research had shown that people punish themselves more severely than their superiors would.
"Well?" The voice got an impatient tone to it. Not a rhetorical question then.
"I think we should put this down as a beginner's mistake, brought on by too much enthusiasm for the job, and leave it at that."
"Interesting theory." The Sunflower seemed to consider it. "I think it would be better to give you an official reprimand. Don't kill the Sue too early again. Wait until you have enough charges."
Allison rolled her eyes. What was that? PPC-code for see you here again next week?
"Here's a charge sheet with acceptable charges." The Sunflower flicked one of its leaves against a sheet of paper. The sheet flew off the desk towards Allison. She caught it against her chest and looked at it.
"This is for LotR."
"I'm sure you can make the necessary adjustments for your own fandom." The Sunflower restacked some papers. "Oh, and don't charge the Sues on intend again. We want you to catch them red-handed. Dismissed."
With the charge list in hand Allison left the Sunflower's Office. She decided to take the long way back to her own Reponse Center. Due to PPC-headquarters unique spacial configuration that meant she stepped through her door five minutes later. She flopped down on the bean bag with a pen and started adapting the charge sheet for Voyagers! fandom. When she was done she fell asleep.
Allison was rudely awoken by a loud noise. First she thought she had dreamt it: a large flower shouting "beep" at her, but then she heard the sound again.
Allison stumbled up and over to the console. She chuckled. Now, that was interesting. The story was told from the perspective of a new Voyager recruit. Allison decided to take the opportunity this gave to look around the grounds of Voyager Academy. She opened a portal and stepped into the vast grounds of the Academy. The only thing she had to make sure of was to stay out of sight of the many OCs that were mentioned in this story.
The Academy fascinated her. She could walk here for hours and not tire of her surroundings.
The architecture and furnishings were grand dichotomies. Everything resembled 19th and early 20th century European fashions and yet were technological marvels. Gas lights glowed with power neither fossil nor electric.
Allison stopped to stare at these lights for some time. She never had been good at science in school, but she was sure gas lights didn't work on electric. If the lights weren't powered by some kind of fossil fuel, it must be some kind of biofuel. Or maybe they weren't gas lights at all, but were just called that in absence of a better word.
She gazed at the lights a little while longer, then scolded herself for wasting her own time and tried to find her way to the kitchen. She stole some food there, then quickly took a portal to a later part of the story to have herself a picknick and follow the story by the Words.
Finally, I passed all the exams: written, oral and physical. One morning, after a hearty breakfast, I was called into the Dean's office.
Allison shivered as she remembered her earlier talk with the Sunflower Official. This also reminded her that she had forgotten the charge list, her notepad and even a pen. She rolled her eyes at herself. How was she ever going to make a good PPC agent? She couldn't even write up a proper list of charges. She wondered if she could go back into the building and see if they had any pens with which she could write on her hand. Charge one just presented itself:
"We desperately need your help to find the only two Voyagers familiar enough with the Dark One to stop him. We need you to find Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones."
First charge, Allison thought to herself, the Sue, just out of training, gets the task of helping in fighting the big evil. Well, the Dean did say they were desperate.
Allison stood up, cleaned off the crumbs, and pocketed the rest of the food for later. Now things were beginning to get interesting. She looked around to get her bearings.
First, the Director of the Voyager Academy recruits me to fight a renegade Voyager, a terrible evil loosed upon all of time. In addition, I am charged with finding the lost Voyagers, those who came before me and disappeared without a trace. No small task, that.
The Director? Allison looked puzzled. Wasn't that the Dean? That just meant she had to kill one more OC. She hadn't even thought of a proper weapon yet. Seriously annoyed at herself and at the Sue -- she was glad she remembered form the charge sheet Sues could be charged with annoying agents -- she glared at the Words as if they were to blame.
The story continued with the Sue telling about the special issue omni he received, and the first few missions he took where Susan presumably showed him the ropes. Allison thought that trainee runs should be taken before exams. People carrying a badge, or omni in this case, didn't need keepers anymore. No one had been looking over her shoulder on her missions once she had gotten her badge. And that was probably a bad example.
On one of these missions the Sue and Susan got caught in a timestorm.
starting in the early twentieth century.
It was the Sue's quick thinking that saved Susan from being lost in time. Back at the Academy the Director said that the timestorm was caused by the enemy. As far as Allison could tell, the timestorm was only just discovered; or Voyagers were told about it on a need to know basis, and the Sue was someone that didn't need to know. Luckily they knew just who to ask to fix the mess.
"Not Voyagers, sir," Susan blurted out. "But Voyager. If we had the one Voyager who had the most experience against our enemy, that might give us an edge." I agreed. "Which Voyager would that be?" I asked.
Susan smiled. "Phineas Bogg."
Right, Allison smiled, now we're getting somewhere. Bring out the cute stuff. Er, she corrected herself, he would have to be found first. According to the Sue Bogg and Jeffrey had been missing in action for twelve years. Allison found it a little hard to believe that a search party hadn't been sent out sooner. Or that a new Voyager was recruited to find them. Why wasn't Susan out looking for the dynamic duo? Probably had something to do with the experimental omni. Voyagers didn't want to risk the life of one of their own on that one.
The Sue set to his task with diligence. Finding out everything he could about Bogg on Voyager records, and then going into time to talk to the people that had met him.
I couldn't actually visit the sight of their final confrontation with the enemy; that lie within the period blocked by the timestorm.
That and the fact that the omni doesn't allow Voyagers from different "classes" to meet each other. Allison rolled her eyes. It would be nice if Sues at least could be consistent in their stories. Then Allison got spun around her axis clockwise and fell to the ground. She scrambled up, in new surroundings, and looked at the Words to see what had happened: a shift to present tense.
The air was hot and humid. Allison thought about the chocolate danish she had in her pocket. Well, that was beyond eating now. In the distance she could make out two people. One was the Sue, and the other one looked a bit like Jeffrey Jones. Allison got spun around counterclockwise and fell to the ground again, in a mossy bog. She swore. The Sue was gonna pay for this. Another shift in tense. Allison got back to her feet and started hiking towards the two figures in the distance.
Jeffrey had greeted the Sue and took him to the grave of Bogg. Drake had killed him. Of course, Allison thought, through all of time, through all of history, there is only one bad guy: Drake. In nearly half the stories he appeared. He was as much an overused plot device as a random OC being recruited as a Voyager.
"The last time we met Drake, he ambushed us, tricked some cowboys in 1881 into believing we were cattle rustlers."
Allison first thought she hadn't heard right. The last time Bogg and Jeff had met Drake was obscured by the timestorm. The timestorm started in early twentieth century. How did late nineteenth century add up in that equation? Probably made more sense if you accepted that time isn't linear. But then, how does one determine the beginning and ending of a storm if not in time? These thoughts made her head hurt more than Eulerian Mathematics, so she quickly decided to stop thinking them.
Jeffrey told the Sue that Drake had rigged their omni. It had brought them here and then blew up. Though not a fan of Drake, Allison had to admire his handy work. That must have been quite some rigging: seen as omnies generally only could go as far back as the twentieth century before common era; there being no point in omnies going back further than there were humans, or even written history; and considering that Drake was actually a lawyer. She thought for a moment whether Drake could be another canon Sue, a canon Mary Sue DeVille. Probably not. It would mean that he would have been successful in his task.
After his story Jeffrey tried to convince the Sue they must go back for Bogg. The Sue pointed out that that would create a time paradox, and that Bogg must have told him that that isn't possible. Then he tried to enlist Jeffrey's help in defeating Drake.
"You and I are the last Voyagers left in the field."
Another charge, Allison cheered, the Sue is one of the last members of a dying breed. Probably thinks of himself as the last boy-scout too. And there only is one last boy-scout. His name is Bruce Willis. Mmm, Bruce Willis. Allison started to dream away. Her trance lasted a little while; the Voyagers had left before she noticed them gone.
This didn't bother her much. She knew where they were going, besides she wanted to go back to Headquarters to take a shower and arrange for her disguise for the story's finale.
Allison stepped through the portal into the courtroom at Voyager Headquarters. The Sue and Jeffrey weren't there yet. There was someone sitting in one of the tribunal chairs smoking a cigar. Though she really detested cigars, she had to go over to him, because the tribunal bench was the only place in the room she could hide from the Sue. And she had to stay hidden from him for awhile. She was wearing her disguise: she looked like a Japanese soldier from back in the days that the Japanese army still used swords in battle.
Allison hid behind the bench and a little later the Sue and Jeffrey dropped in. They recognized the cigar smoking figure as Drake. He taunted Jeffrey; Jeffrey threatened to kill him. Drake called in reinforcements. Allison quickly jumped up as an assortment of soldiers from different armies and wars entered the room and encircled the two remaining Voyagers. She joined their ranks unnoticed. Drake demanded the Sue give him his omni.
I pulled a gleaming silver OMNI from my pocket.
Allison looked puzzled, did Voyagers have two omnies these days? She quickly remembered to pull her face in the same menacing frown as the other soldiers. The Sue hadn't noticed as he was giving Jeffrey brow coded messages. Then the Sue asked Drake to explain himself. Drake took the bate.
"Since you are about to join the ranks of the missing in action, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to explain."
Allison rolled her eyes. Drake was never going to make it as an übervillain. Explaining himself is the first step to a villain's down fall. Second step was that he would gloat at his enemy. Seriously, Allison thought, would the experience of gloating be any less if the enemy were already dead? Allison wanted to shake her head and bury it in her hands, but that probably wouldn't go unnoticed by the Sue. Cringing she watched as Drake gave the Sue the tools to his own down fall.
Then the Sue omnied out to bring his plan into execution. While all the others looked around in confusion, Allison read the Words to follow the Sue's actions. Jeffrey lashed out and fought off his captors. Though he was only one and his captors were many, soon heaps of them were lying around him. Well, that was to be expected, Allison reasoned. Drake had chosen mainly Nazis as his foot-soldiers, an army that had been defeated. If he had his picking from all of time, why not choose an army that had been undefeatable? Was there such an army?
Allison stepped out of the way as another soldier lunged himself at a lost cause and landed on his head, aided by Jeffrey, a little further ahead. The soldiers changed tactics and they attacked Jeffrey en group and he was subdued. Just as Drake ordered him to be killed Bogg omnied in. Allison was glad to see him, though surprised the Sue wasn't with him. How could Bogg have omnied in on his own? Surely something else to charge the Sue, who omnied in a few moments later, with. The three Voyagers fought their opponents, till Bogg started to disappear.
Then, with a small, audible whoosh, the Nazis and soldiers from numerous wars disappeared, completely, as if they had never been.
All soldiers except for one. Allison was behind the Sue; he didn't know she was still there. When Garth, the Director and Susan walked in, the Director, however, was quick to point her out. Allison grabbed the Sue by the arm, and as the Director lunged himself at her she slit his throat with her sword.
"Everyone stay calm. I'm just taking this guy. Let us leave and no one else is going to get hurt."
The Voyagers looked at one and other in confusion. Then Garth nodded. Allison pressed the button on the remote activator. A portal opened and she pushed the Sue through to a pre-set location.
"The Voyagers must have great confidence you can save yourself out off this situation. They let you go so easily." Allison pushed the Sue to the floor.
He first looked defiantly at her and then frantically at his wrist.
"You aren't in your story anymore. You're in mine. That's why your omni doesn't work."
"Where am I?"
"In Noddy's shed." It was a lucky guess that the portal would be able to take her there directly.
"What do you want from me?"
"I want to charge you." Allison rubbed a finger under her nose to get rid of a little itch. She held the sword pointed at the Sue's throat. "Sean Brock, I charge you with being a Mary Sue."
"What? That's a girl's thing."
"Fine, I charge you with being a Gary Stu. Same difference."
"On what grounds?"
Allison squinted at him. She didn't like having to deal with an argumentative Sue. "On the grounds that you are a new recruit; recruited to find and rescue Jeffrey Jones and Phineas Bogg, who had disappeared twelve years earlier. If they were so great why didn't Voyagers send out a search party sooner? Why wait to have a new recruit?"
"They did send out other search parties earlier, but all those Voyagers went missing so they abandoned the search. Then more Voyagers started missing and they decided to recruit one final one and give him an experimental omni."
"Why not give the experimental omni to one of the Voyagers they already had? Was it because a new Voyager is more dispensable than an old one?"
The Sue gave her a glassy look.
"Hadn't thought about that explanation, had you?"
The Sue gave a wry smile.
"Further, I charge you with having Bogg omni into the courtroom without an omni."
"That was a trick of the new omni. It was able to 'project' the chronologically unstable Bogg ahead of me."
"That's a nice explanation."
"It probably only worked because Bogg was violating the Voyager Standard Time rule," the Sue continued then realized something. "Does that mean you'll drop the charge?"
"Of course not, explanations you make outside of the story don't count. Besides, the second part of your argument is circular: because it worked Bogg was violating VST rule."
"Oh. Anymore charges?"
"Sure. I charge you with not keeping your own plot consistent."
"When you said you couldn't go to the final confrontation between Bogg and Drake because it was obscured by a time storm. How about you couldn't go there because the omni doesn't allow meeting other Voyagers of different classes?"
"But the omni, this omni." The Sue pointed at his wrist. "Did allow that."
"You did not know that then. In the same paragraph you explain that the omni doesn't allow you to run into Bogg and Jeff by accident."
The Sue said nothing to that.
Allison continued. "I charge you with carrying two omnies. I charge you shifting tenses. I charge you with making me fall into a swamp. I charge you ..." Allison looked at her hand for inspiration. "No, that was about it. Do you understand these charges?"
"Your punishment is death. Any last words?"
"Did you at least enjoy the story?"
"Yeah, I did. Sort of."
In one fell swoop Allison cut of the Sue's head with her sword. The Sue and his head fell to the ground separately. The head almost rolled off the white plastic Allison had rolled out earlier, but she managed to stop it with her sword. She set to cleaning up. It was probably best not to leave a corps lying around in a children's book. Even if it was fanfiction, it might upset the readers.
Allison dropped herself in her beanbag. Mission had been accomplished. The Sue had been thrown into the incinerator -- after an argument with the stoker about whether or not plastic wrappings could go in too -- her report had been filed. It was time to relax. At least until the next mission announced itself with a loud beep. Allison nodded off.