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‘Walk past the Department of Finance’ has never appeared on any of the lists of Things I Am Not Allowed To Do At The PPC, and for a very good reason. Apart from during the invasion back in 2006 (when, admittedly, things got very dangerous down there), and a couple of incidents around the time of the Reorganisation, Finance has never been a place where things happen.

 

At least, so my thoughts went. So I was caught rather off-guard when a hassled-looking human in a long robe ran out of the department’s main office and shoved a sheet of paper in my face.

 

“Have you seen this man?” he demanded. “It’s urgent!”

 

I took a hasty step back, and stared at the poster. “What man?” I asked slowly.

 

This man,” my assailant repeated, waving the sheet vigorously.

 

Perhaps it will help to explain my confusion if I point out that the picture on the paper was a flat black silhouette of a man’s head and shoulders, with Latin letters printed beneath it spelling out ‘AGENT COLD’. There was some other writing, but it was too small for me to be bothered with puzzling out.

 

I reached out and took the poster, then turned it back to face the Finance agent. “This man?” I asked, pointing at the silhouette – and I did my best to keep both ridicule and condescension out of my voice. It was difficult, but I’d known it would be when I promised Agent Kaitlyn I’d try to improve. I had no idea what was going on here, so assuming the worst would be unfair.

 

“Yes, that man,” the Accountant said, nodding firmly. “Agent Cold. He’s gone missing.”

 

“… what does he look like?” That was the best I could come up with as a ‘neutral’ response.

 

The Finance agent frowned. “Well, you know Colt, in Building Maintenance?”

 

“Very vaguely.” He’d been one of the team who patched up my RC after the Mary-Sue invasion; I only remembered him because my partner and I had commented on him being a half-elf (though not from Arda).

 

“Well, Cold looks nothing like him.” The Finance agent beamed at me as if this were the most helpful statement in the world.

 

“… right. Have you looked where you left him?” I know, that was cruel; but thinking the best of people when they demonstrate that they’re clearly insane is tricky business.

 

Fortunately, the man took it well. “He went into the Archives and didn’t come back,” he said. “We’re afraid he may have been…” He glanced around furtively, lowered his voice. “Wikified.”

 

I stared. I felt like I needed a glossary for everything this person said – none of his statements and explanations made sense. Maybe he wasn’t the one going insane? Perhaps this was all perfectly normal behaviour, and I was just losing my mind?

 

Or perhaps he was simply mad. That didn’t mean I couldn’t try to help. “I’m sure there are other explanations,” I said soothingly. “Perhaps he fell through a plothole – there’s enough of them around. A temporal-spatial distortion could have taken him anywhere in HQ, or if it was a Class 3.4 or above, anywhere in the Multiverse.”

 

The response I got wasn’t what I expected (so what’s new?). The man narrowed his eyes at me, then suddenly beamed. “You must be from Geographical Aberrations.”

 

I blinked. “Yes… oh.” It took me a moment to make the connection in the general insanity. “Plothole classes are fairly specialised knowledge, I suppose.”

 

“Moderately,” the man said. He crumpled the poster up and threw it over his shoulder, then held out a hand. “Sambar, Department of Finance.”

 

I shook his hand. His grip was stronger than I expected: he was a skinny man in a white robe, didn’t look like he had a muscle on him, but apparently he was just lucky that way. “Huinesoron,” I said, “DOGA.”

 

“Yes,” Sambar agreed. “Come along, then.” He turned on his heel and marched back into Finance. Halfway across the room, he looked back at me over his shoulder. “I said, come along. I can’t very well do it by myself.”

 

Shaking my head in bewilderment, I hurried across the Finance main office. “Do what by yourself?”

 

“This mission,” Sambar told me, stopping in front of a desk. “You’re an elf, so it’s definitely in your field, and-“

 

I held up a hand, silently begging him to stop. “What are you talking about?”

 

Sambar frowned, then picked up a sheet of paper and waved it in my general direction. I don’t think I could have read it even if it had been in Tengwar. “I have an acquisition mission,” he said. “It’s either DOGA or DIC, so I was going to contact the Lichen and the Bonsai Mallorn to get an assistant, but then you came along. Do you mind?”

 

I tried to avoid asking ‘Do I mind what?’. Too many of what Sambar very clearly thought were stupid questions would hardly be good for my self-image. But I did have to ask something: “What’s an acquisition mission?” Sambar’s eyebrow rose, and I hastily went on. “I thought you were Finance; why are you taking missions at all?”

 

“Ah,” Sambar said, pushing back his hood and running a hand through his long hair, “this again. I tell every one of them we should change the department’s name, but they never even consider it.”

 

I bit my lip, hoping Sambar would clarify without my prompting. Buuuuuut no, he just shook his head in irritation and started leafing through his papers. I sighed, and gave in. “So are you not the Department of Finance?”

 

“Oh, we are,” Sambar said, “but it’s something of a misnomer. We do handle financials – it was our original purpose – but we’ve expanded a lot since the Evermind’s days.”

 

Again, he fell silent. “Nén mírello,” I muttered, dropping into Quenya to hide my frustration. Then, in my normal tone of voice, “What sort of expansion are we talking about, here?”

 

“Various kinds,” Sambar said dismissively, and for one terrible moment I thought that was all I was going to get. “The Bindweed expanded our archives enormously; we used to just have incomings and outgoings, but she added detailed records on every agent’s finances. Personally, I think she was plotting to supplant the Marquis de Sod, which is why he made sure she was ousted during the Reorganisation.”

 

I blinked in surprise. I’d never heard that before. “Surely she left with-“

 

“Then the Clover founded Finance’s Espionage Division,” Sambar went on, ignoring me, “and started us collecting information on the PPC’s former holdings. BioInc’s finances make for particularly interesting reading, in my opinion. And, speaking of BioInc, he was the Flower who realised the shortages we’d face after we cut them off. That’s why we got saddled with the Acquisitions Division – and the Morning Glory has just expanded that, obviously.”

 

“Obviously,” I repeated blankly. “What? Isn’t the Morning Glory the Armourer?”

 

“Quartermaster,” Sambar corrected me. “Yes, but since the Clover was killed…” He paused for a moment, emotions flickering over his face, then went on. “She’s been assigned as our temporary overseer until the Board can appoint a new Head of Department.” He glanced around, then lowered his voice and leant in. “It’s rather suspicious, actually. The shape of her blossoms look a lot like… bindweed, don’t you think?”

 

“I… suppose so?” Honestly, at that point I had no idea what was going on in our conversation; I would have agreed to anything to get Sambar to shut up. That might be rather mean of me, but hey – I wasn’t saying it to him, was I? “So… acquisitions. You go into stories and bring back stuff for the Morning Glory?”

 

Sambar nodded. “And for Mr. Totth’s Supply Depot, all the Armouries, the Stores, DoSAT, Medical, FicPsych… basically, if something’s made in HQ from canonical ingredients or components, we’re the ultimate source.”

 

I shook my head slowly. “That sounds like a lot of work.”

 

Sambar flashed me a tight smile. “Yes,” he said. Then he picked up his sheet of paper again, and opened a drawer to reveal a Remote Activator. “Which,” he went on, “is why I’m very glad you’re here.  Ever been there before?”

 

Yeah, I should have known his coherence was too good to last. “Been where?”

 

Men in Black,” Sambar told me. “He needs some more neuralysers, and while we’re there we’ll pick up a new deneuralyser, since apparently some agents managed to overload one of the… three, I think we have now.”

 

Following Sambar’s train of thought was like trying to navigate the Girdle of Melian when the Doriathrim were in a bad mood. I guessed the ‘he’ at the beginning of the conversation was Makes-Things, or maybe Hornbeam. As to where we were going… “So it’s a badfic?”

 

“Obviously,” Sambar shrugged, shuffling through his paperwork. “Ah, here it is. This should be all we need, so let’s get set up.”

 

I wasn’t used to being on this end of the conversation. Normally, I was the one with specialist knowledge which I could – deliberately or otherwise – not explain to my partners. Turns out it’s not as much fun when it’s being done to you.

 

One thing, at least, I did know. I fished in my pocket and pulled out one of the mission pins I kept stashed there. “If we’re teaming up-“ I began.

 

“You should put this on,” Sambar said over me, holding out a pin in the form of a flattened silver cross. Then he registered I’d been speaking, and saw the gold flame in my hand. “Ah, well done.”

 

I stared at the pin. “You… you’ve heard of mission pins?” I asked.

 

“Of course,” Sambar replied. “I got them from Kayleigh.”

 

I shook my head slowly, baffled. “You know Kayleigh?”

 

“Everyone knows Kayleigh,” he said with a shrug. “Did you know she was the first to realise the threat caused by DAVD? That’s why they took such heavy casualties during the invasion – the Board placed them on the front lines to eliminate dissent.”

 

I was beginning to get a distinct impression about Sambar – beyond the one about him making no sense. “You, ah…” I stopped, took a moment to come up with a non-offensive way to ask, and tried again. “You seem to be rather fond of nówi hurin pano… uh, conspiracy theories.”

 

Sambar looked affronted, proving my efforts to be in vain. “That nonsense the Multiverse Monitor used to put out, about the SO being murdered, mystery assassins, and Agent Suicide being attractive? Certainly not! My ideas may be-“

 

“Wait, Suicide?”

 

“-uncommon amongst agents,” Sambar went on, completely ignoring me, “but they are all based in entirely verifiable evidence. Take, for instance, the cyclic nature of PPC technology. Surely you’ve noticed that our methods have been reverting more and more to the ‘bad old days’. Even in this very department-“

 

A mental voice boomed through the Department of Finance, mercifully cutting off Sambar’s rant: How many notebooks do you people need? Get me some more, immediately!

 

“Our mistress speaks,” Sambar said dryly, dropping the subject like Morgoth dropping a Silmaril. Wait, that idiom doesn’t work – he didn’t drop them, he kept them even though they burnt him. Well, dropping it, at any rate. “Don’t worry, though – someone else will deal with it.”

 

Indeed, one of the other agents scattered around the main office was already leaning forward. I frowned, thinking about what had just happened. “So that was the Morning Glory?” I asked. “She seemed a bit… well, brusque about it. Not what I would expect from a, what did you say, a temporary overseer?”

 

“I have a theory about that.“

 

I bet you do, I thought, which was a little unfair of me, but really, now.

 

“I think the Board just piped her usual requests directly to the speakers. I’m not even sure she knows the Clover is gone – she issues her demands, she gets what she wants, job done.”

 

I blinked rapidly, trying to follow the missing portions of the conversation. “Are you saying… she doesn’t know she’s Acting Head of Finance?”

 

“It definitely seems that way.” Sambar picked up a Remote Activator and opened a portal in the middle of the room. “Let’s get moving; I have a lot to get through today.”

 

“And I’m really not sure why I’m doing it with you,” I muttered – but followed him through into the fic.

 

~

 

"Focus, slick, before-" K was cut off by an alien tentacle slamming him into the wall. The entire scene went unnoticed by various people in MIB headquarters. It was a daily appearance. But K at least felt that his partner should pay attention to him.

 

I ducked under the Generic Alien’s flailing tentacles. “That’s two language abuse charges already!” I hissed to Sambar. “Are you going to write the list, or shall I?”

 

The Accountant blinked at me. “Neither,” he said. “What do you think this is?”

 

“… a mission?”

 

There was a high-pitched squeal, and the alien exploded – all over me, all over Sambar, all over the floor. “Eleni!” I squeaked, tried to brush myself off – and then gave it up as hopeless. “And that’s another charge!” I protested. “Random murder can’t be ‘a daily appearance’ – whatever that means.”

 

“Why are you worried about charges?” Sambar inquired mildly, picking his way out of the puddles of green goo and looking around with an air of casual interest.

 

“Uh… because we’re the PPC?” I suggested. “We go into badfics, we write a charge list, we fix the problem – it’s what makes us different from all those rogue Sue Hunters out in the Multiverse.”

 

Sambar turned and frowned at me. “I thought you understood,” he said. “This is an acquisition mission.”

 

I was getting very tired of waiting for him to finish his thoughts. “Does that mean you’re not going to kill it?”

 

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Sambar said with a shrug. “But if you feel the need, go right ahead. I’ll be raiding the cupboards. Don’t run off, will you?”

 

He didn’t wait for my reply – which was probably a good thing. It would hardly suit the newly reformed me to make a snide comment about how I couldn’t run off, I didn’t have a Remote Activator with me… instead, I turned to study the pair of canons. Human, male, one significantly older than the other; I made a mental wager as to which would be the focus of the badfic.

 

J slowly looked at K, but only to motion at a certain figure nearby who was speaking to Zed.

"Whose she?"

 

“I doubt she’s anyone’s,” I muttered, adding an extra emphasis to the language charge on my mental list – with no equipment on hand, I wasn’t exactly going to be able to write it down. “She’s – oh, Eleni Cuivieneno! It can’t be!”

 

It was. The woman the narration described with K new that the figure there was one of beauty, even he could see that was none other than Arwen Evenstar, daughter of Elrond, bride of Aragorn, queen of the Reunited Kingdom – in other words, someone with absolutely no reason to be on Earth. Geographical Aberration, indeed.

 

I reached for my CAD, only to remember yet again that nope, I don’t have it with me; I was going to have to do this mission hands-free. I squinted up at the Words and winced. “Right, Tolkien was an alien, sure he was. This is as bad as that Time Lord wittering on about ‘Gnomish’.”

 

Oh, yeah, that’s right – I didn’t have a partner to banter with. It was going to be a long mission.

 

With J – the younger Men in Black canon character – still ogling Arwen, K headed off in the direction Sambar had taken. I muttered under my breath and hurried after him. It wouldn’t do for him to happen on a PPC agent stealing MiB equipment; too many questions.

 

The storage area was a series of nondescript doors along a clean white corridor. K walked purposefully down to the halfway point, opened a door, and stepped inside. A moment later, Sambar appeared from another cupboard, his arms loaded down with purloined equipment.

 

“Get back inside!” I hissed, hurrying over to him and glancing nervously over my shoulder. “Eleni, you’re going to be seen!”

 

“I’ve got a neuralyser,” Sambar said calmly, and chuckled. “In fact, I’ve got a whole bunch. Here.” He dropped a box into my arms – you can thank superior elven reflexes that I caught them, or is that too arrogant? – and bustled off into another cupboard. Of course, that was when K re-emerged, so I had to take shelter in the room Sambar had just left.

 

Eventually, I made it back to the main hall, where K was showing J a copy of Lord of the Rings. I approved of the sentiment, of course, but was cringing pre-emptively from the effect this badfic would have on my home canon.

 

"Tolkien landed on Earth and wrote diaries. These are it. If you read this, you'll learn she's half elf. Whose dates, slick, happens to be six thousand year old Elven lords or high kings of a good section of her world. She's above your status and reading level to, not just pay grade."

 

“Six thousand year old…? Who, exactly, was born in the middle of the Second Age?”

 

Nope, still no-one to complain to. Not that Sambar would be much help, anyway – he’d probably say something cryptic and look down on me for not understanding. Thanks all the same, but I much prefer it when I’m the one who knows more than my partner.

 

Er. Hang on. That didn’t come out right. “Quácor massalyasse, Agent Kaitlyn,” I muttered, “what have you done to me?” The answer, of course, being ‘made me far too aware of my own failings’. Great.

 

J left his partner and walked towards Arwen. And then, abruptly, he turned into Arwen.

 

I jerked my head round to stare at the original Arwen. As my gaze approached her, she seemed to flicker slightly, and then resolved into, well, Arwen. In my peripheral vision I saw J transform back into himself and head towards her again – and then I glanced past the Evenstar, and a random MiB agent who wandered into my line of sight was suddenly a half-elven beauty.

 

In the corner of my eye, the original Arwen looked vague, almost misty, and J walked right past her, heading for the latest incarnation. Swallowing a curse, I glanced up at the Words, hoping my suspicions were wrong.

 

You heard the loud and almost obnoxious voice and slowly turned around.

 

“Second person,” I hissed. “Eleni Cuivieneno.” When heading into a first- or second-person fic, PPC agents usually bring a crash dummy to take on the character of ‘Me’ or ‘You’. Without one, the spirit of the badfic tries to inhabit the agent himself – or, in the case of a second-person story, whoever the agent thinks of as ‘you’. Often, that’s your partner; in this case, it seemed to be defaulting to ‘whoever I look at’.

 

Muttering under my breath, I fixed my gaze on the original Arwen. In the background, an extremely surprised MiB agent resumed her normal appearance, and J changed direction once again. Until the story switched back to a sensible style of writing – or was over – I would have to keep looking only at Arwen, to keep ‘You’ inhabiting her.

 

"My name is J."

 

"And mine isn't a letter of the alphabet."

 

I smirked. “Okay, that was actually quite funny.” Then something in the Words caught my eye, and my jaw dropped in horror. The armoured figure Arwen was talking to was none other than Sauron.

 

“You claimed the books were alien!Tolkien’s diaries!” I reminded the fic. “Wouldn’t that make them accurate? And mean that Sauron was dead – you know, like he is in reality?”

 

The fic didn’t answer – or maybe it did, by letting me know that my expectations of realism were grievously misplaced. Arwen gossiped about Thorin – claiming that ‘a single dragon beat his entire kingdom’, which could also be said for, oh, Finrod Felagund, to pick a random example, and so was hardly an insult – and then responded to a comment from Sauron (still can’t believe that) about her boyfriend with a shrug, a bowed head, and:

 

."Elrond and I split up for awhile. It was mutual..."

 

If I had been drinking, I would have choked on it. “Elrond is your boyfriend?” I reached for a weapon, only to remember that no, I was unarmed. “You’re sleeping with your own father? That’s just twisted!”

 

I would say there was worse to come, but it would be a lie. The next line was still pretty bad, though:

 

J perked up slightly after hearing that this 'boyfriend' Zed mentioned wasn't so.

 

I wasn’t at all sure whether it was intentional, but apparently Sauron was Zed – the head of the Men in Black. “And so we see the world of Men fall into darkness at last,” I growled, ignoring for a moment the fact that I wasn’t supposed to be condescending about their species. Seriously, at that point, I thought I deserved an insult or two.

 

The rest of the scene was distinctly anti-climactic. J attempted what I guessed had to be a pickup line (Tulkas help me if I ever come out with anything as stupid as that), to which Arwen unaccountably responded. Having made arrangements for the evening, J walked back over to K, while ‘You’ manifested a braid and tucked it behind her ear. With one final line confirming that the Queen of Gondor had been completely replaced, the scene mercifully ended. I turned away from Arwen and Zed-Sauron and stalked off to find Sambar.

 

“Ah, there you are,” the Accountant said, and stacked another box on top of the one I was already carrying. “Could you fill out the paperwork on those for me?”

 

I didn’t bother asking what paperwork; I already knew that any conversation with Sambar would end up with me even more confused. “We have a problem,” I said instead, putting the boxes down.

 

Sambar tilted his head, studying me. “Yes?” he prompted. “You really should be more informative, you know.”

 

I gritted my teeth – like he can talk! – and went on. “Arwen is a character replacement,” I said, “and Zed – that’s the head of MiB – has been merged with Sauron.” I paused for a moment, and saw only blank incomprehension. “That means we need to kill her, at the very least. Hopefully he’ll separate on his own, but I’m honestly not sure. As for Arda being a planet in Earth’s vicinity…” I shrugged. “Since we haven’t actually seen it, it ought to pop back by itself. But we absolutely have to kill fake!Arwen.”

 

“Ah.” Sambar blinked at me. “Very well, then, go ahead.”

 

“I can’t,” I replied. “The story’s taking a break until the evening, which is ‘a few hours’ away.” I glanced down the corridor, locating the cupboard K had gone into. “There’s apparently a store-room full of books down here, so…” Then I stopped, thought about it for a moment, and turned back to face Sambar. “On the other hand – do you need any help?”

 

Sambar’s face practically lit up. “Well, yes, as a matter of fact,” he said, beaming at me. “The stores in this fic are significantly larger than their usual size, so there’s all sorts of useful things we can bring back. I actually ran across a TARDIS over there somewhere; I gather this is some kind of crossover?”

 

“We’ve had Ghostbusters, E.T., Lord of the Rings and, uh, Oprah,” I agreed, then squinted at the Words and added, “Narnia, too. So yes, I imagine there’s a lot of canon tech floating around.”

 

“Oh, it’s not just technology,” Sambar corrected me. “There’s a whole shelf of lembas, a barrel of kryptonite, and what seems to be a vial of purified midichlorians. It’s a marvellous place.” He glanced at me, and I once again got the distinct feeling he should be wearing glasses and squinting over them. “Do you have to kill it?” he asked. “This fic is a treasure trove!”

 

“That’s our job,” I said, and shrugged. “Didn’t we- I mean, not killing badfics because they might be useful sounds a lot like what the Mysterious Somebody used to do.”

 

“I suppose you’re right.” Sambar sighed, lifted another box onto what was rapidly becoming a stack in my arms, and straightened up. “Come along, Agent Huinesoron,” he said. “I think we’ll start… over here.”

 

~

 

It took some doing to extricate myself from Sambar’s company when the time came to continue my mission. I hadn’t seen an Infrastructure agent so excited since Terri and that Time Lord, the Notary, got together to discuss alternative filing systems. Eventually, though, I made it out, and tracked down J and K in a small office.

 

 

"This Elrond guy sounds like tough competition. I have to increase my vocabulary here..."

 

“He’s not ‘competition’,” I muttered as K completely ignored his partner. “He’s her father. The very idea of Arwen dating him is just-“

 

"He is tough competition. We dated for over a century."

 

“- exactly what this story wants us to be thinking about.” I grimaced, and dragged my gaze up to Arwen as You manifested again. J made a feeble attempt to excuse the fact that he was essentially reading his prospective date’s life history – though it was apparently nowhere close to reality – and Arwen asked him to go out with her.

 

"Bring him back in one piece by tomorrow. No elven time slips, my lady."

 

“Oh, come on!” My voice was loud enough to draw Arwen’s attention to me, which inevitably meant the canons noticed me, as well. K didn’t really react, just grunting and flipping through another of the stack of files next to him; J tried to focus on me, but his attention wandered back to Arwen, his expression returning to vacancy. Sometimes, it’s great when badfics throw everyone OOC.

 

Okay, not really. But it can be somewhat helpful.

 

“It’s so good to see a civilised being,” Arwen said, smiling at me, and I reached up to touch my ear. Right, apparently Sambar hadn’t bothered with disguises; would have been nice to know that earlier.

 

“Arwen,” I began, “or You, or whatever you’re calling yourself-“

 

Arwen took a graceful step towards me, ignoring J as he followed in her wake. “You can call me anything you want,” she said. “You’re pretty cute. Are you single?”

 

I snorted. “You? Are so not my type.”

 

“Oh, but I could be…” fake!Arwen said, coming far too close for comfort.

 

It’s at times like these that I’m glad the Word Worlds are unimaginative when it comes to their source material. As MiB agents, J and K were both dressed in full suits, with their ties neatly knotted – and their sunglasses on.

 

Flash.

 

I lowered the neuralyser I’d grabbed out of Sambar’s box and looked at Arwen. “That’s enough of that,” I said firmly. Behind her, J shook himself and looked around; K, naturally, continued to ignore me.

 

But hang on. Knocking a few of a Character Replacement Sue’s memories around shouldn’t release the canons from her influence. She’d have to be dead to achieve that, or at least unconscious. I lifted the neuralyser, making sure to keep Arwen in my line of sight still – she was still You, after all – and studied the controls.

 

PPC neuralysers are telepathically controlled, or possibly just sensitive to the story – they tend to revert people to their canonical state, rather than deleting a specific amount of time. But this was an original MiB model. It had dials for days, months, and years, and they went up a long way.

 

Hey, here’s something I didn’t know: fresh out of the box, neuralysers are tuned to their maximum settings.

 

I stared at Arwen in horror. “Uh,” I said, and, “Um,” and even, “Ah.”

 

“That doesn’t sound good,” said Sambar’s voice, and I turned in relief to look at him.

 

“I wiped her memory!” I hissed. “I mean, all of it.” I frowned, realising something. “Which apparently counts as doing the Duty, since you’re not turning into You.”

 

“Well, then, congratulations?” Sambar said, blinking at me. “Does that mean we’re done here?”

 

No,” I said. “Because first, I didn’t get to charge her first, and second, she’s still here. She’s just… not fake!Arwen any more.”

 

“I see,” Sambar said, nodding, then frowned. “Actually, no, I don’t see. What’s the problem?”

 

“She’s not a Character Replacement any more,” I tried again. “She’s just a person – a person with no memory of anything. Like, ever.”

 

Behind me, I heard movement, and then Arwen’s voice. “Since I seem to be the only woman in the room, I guess you’re talking about me?”

 

Swallowing hard, I turned to look at her. “Um. Yes?”

 

“Well, you’re right about the memory,” she – I could hardly call her Arwen now, could I? – said. “Is that a bad thing?”

 

“Uh.” I looked past her, to where J was frantically trying to get K to pay attention, only to be rebuffed with a ‘calm down, slick, no need for us to get involved’. “It… might be?”

 

“We could take her back with us,” Sambar suggested. “Unless you really had your heart set on killing her, that is.”

 

“A memory-less elven alien… thing?” I said, glancing over my shoulder at the Accountant. “You really think she’d have a place in HQ?”

 

“More of one than she’d have here,” Sambar said with a shrug. “What do you say, Miss? Want a job?”

 

“A job.” She seemed to roll the word around her mouth, probing it for meaning. “I’m not sure I’ve had one of those before.” She laughed, a surprisingly clear and untroubled sound. “How would I be?”

 

“We’ll get FicPsych to check her over,” Sambar said, his tone businesslike, “but I don’t foresee any problems. Here.” He handed me the Remote Activator, plucked the neuralyser from my hand, and walked over to J and K, fiddling with it.

 

“Hey,” said J, as I opened a portal back to HQ, “don’t point that thing at-“

 

There was a flash, but not a red one; this one seemed to be closer to green. I looked past the portal to see Sambar saying something to the MiB agents in a quiet voice; then he pocketed the neuralyser and walked across to me, tossing me a small glass disk as he came.

 

“Wavelength modulator,” he explained. “It lets the neuralyser work through sunglasses, but it does cut down the range somewhat. Now – shall we go?”

 

At my side, the woman giggled. “You people are pretty cute,” she said. “I think I’m going to like my new ‘job’.”

 

Oh ye Valar, what have I done?

 


 

Author’s Note: That one kind of got away from me… but hey, we got a recruit out of it! My understanding is that neuralysers delete conscious memories, but leave unconscious ones in place. So not!Arwen has her basic personality (flirty gossip with a superiority complex) still in place, and can talk and everything – but has no memories of her previous life. We may or may not see her again later – if so, I promise she’ll get a name.

 

Agent Cold is a bit of a private joke. He’s had a page on the PPC Wiki almost since its creation, but with no sources or any indication of where he came from. Ultimately, research revealed that his wiki page was a response to a typo for Agent Colt, done on the spur of the moment in order to highlight the mistake. But that shouldn’t stop him having a proper life!

 

Badfic: Empire State of Mind, by forestquartermane

Quenya Translations:

 

“Nén mírello” – ‘Water from a jewel’ (ie, ‘it’s like getting blood from a stone’)

“Nówi hurin pano” – ‘Ideas of hidden plans’ (ie, ‘conspiracy theories’)

“Eleni” – ‘Stars’

“Eleni Cuivieneno” – ‘Stars of Cuivienen’

“Quácor massalyasse” – ‘Crows in your bread’

 

Full Charge List

(Obviously, no charges were read during this mission, but Agent Huinesoron still compiled a list)