I watched the footage again. It was only short, so that wasn't much of a hardship. It showed a standard PPC HQ bedroom, with one agent sitting on her bed reading, and the other lying on her back in an open coffin.
(The Man in Black - sorry, 'perfectly lovely and not at all deliberately creepy DIA agent' - who brought it to me claims they don't monitor all our sleeping quarters, just those of 'particular concern'. You can take that with as large a heap of salt as you like.)
The woman on the bed turned a page. The angle was bad, but from its cover the book seemed to be one of the early Discworld novels, the ones with the Josh Kirby artwork. She seemed to be enjoying it - a grin broke out on her face, and I heard her chuckle even with the low recording quality.
There was a sound that could best be described as [bloop].
There was a flash of blue light.
And the agents vanished.
I rested one of my chins on the desk, staring at the empty bedroom on the screen. Agents didn't usually just disappear - well, they did, but only through perfectly ordinary portals. This was going to be a problem. They were out there without any equipment, with no outgoing address - we might never find them! They could be lost in the Multiverse for-
My console let out a soft chime, and the Man in Black appeared on the monitor. "We have a trace on your agents," he said without preamble.
I glanced at myself, one head turning to another - it's one of those mannerisms I've picked up just to make people feel uncomfortable, and the MiB totally deserved it. "Didn't you give me the 'millions of worlds, needle in a hay-planet' speech about ten minutes ago?"
The MiB had the decency to look embarrassed. "Yes, well. Agent Windflower is under… special monitoring. It took us a little while to pin down the signal from her tracker, but there were certain contextual clues to help." I raised half a dozen eyebrows at him, and he shrugged. "The novel Agent Jackson was reading is Guards! Guards! by the late Sir Terry Pratchett, Kt, OBE; the agents appear to have been transported to the Discworld."
"Huh." I tilted a head at him, and tapped at the keyboard with one nose, closing the bedroom video. "So you don't need me any more?"
"That… isn't entirely the case." The MiB glanced off-screen, nodded, and returned his attention to me. "We are unsure of the cause of the teleportation event, but theorise that it is related to the recent death of Sir Terry. The Division of Applied-and-theoretical Multiversal Physics suggest that the fact that he now has a grave - at least a metaphorical one - to spin in is creating, ah, 'metafictional acute canonical effects in the regions adjacent to his creation'." The MiB gave a nanosecond smile. "Which means we strongly recommend nobody attempts to access the story where Agents Windflower and Jackson are located."
I swung all my heads round to glare at the screen. "You're just going to leave them there?"
"Not exactly." This time the MiB's smile was entirely humourless. "We have… I suppose you might call it 'a plan'."
The Imaging Chamber was a large white room, vaguely octagonal and completely empty apart from myself. I have no idea what sort of negotiations the DIA had to go through to gain the use of it - I know they called an emergency meeting of the Board of Flowers, and I think we sent an emissary to Jurisfiction requesting their aid under the Ispace Accords. However they'd managed it, here I was in the heart of Project Quantum Leap, with none of the project team any the wiser.
Well, none except one. I held the Handlink in one mouth and brought it close to another. "Ziggy? I'm ready."
"I still don't know why I agreed to this." Is it possible for a computer to grouch? Is grouch even a word? I don't know. "If it wasn't for that computer of yours-"
The MiB's voice cut in on the link. "Enough chatter. This needs to be a quick mission; we can't keep the team outside for very long. Agent Kyaris, get in, make contact, and get out."
A third voice interjected itself: the Sub Rosa, taking a personal interest in the situation. And be sure to ask Agent Windflower to conduct an Intelligence review. We might as well get some use out of this terrible situation.
"Yes, boss." I glowered at the Handlink. "So are we going, or-?"
Around me, the white room seemed to melt. Rivulets of colour flowed down from the ceiling, and in a few moments I was, to all appearances, standing in a narrow Ankh-Morporkian alleyway. There were beggars crouched against the walls, rats running over the pavement - and two black-clad PPC agents arguing.
"- ridiculous idea!" That was the shorter of the two agents, Agent Jackson. "Unseen U has a history of utter failure with controlled interdimensional travel; even if we're in a timeframe when Hex is capable of it, we'd just end up stuck at a random point in Roundworld's history."
"And you have a better idea?" Agent Windflower had a hint of red light in her eyes, and a mechanical computer attached to her face; the MiB had refused to explain that. "Or are you still saying we should just wait for someone to happen upon us?”
That sounded like my cue. “Ahem,” I said - which is a lot more impressive when you know it came from all eight heads simultaneously.
Agent Windflower spun around and stared at me. Agent Jackson didn’t. “I’ve got loads of ideas,” she said. “We could see if the railway’s in operation yet, or find out if Esk is around - that’d be nice - or go and visit-”
“Kaitlyn,” Agent Windflower interrupted, “I think the hydra is trying to talk to us.”
Agent Jackson blinked. “There’s a hydra? Where?”
Agent Windflower turned to stare at her. “‘Where’? Did you get a topper when we ended up here? It’s right in front of you!”
“She can’t see me,” I provided, speaking over Agent Jackson’s predictably-baffled reply. “The hologram had to be tuned to your brainwaves, and we didn’t have a scan of hers.”
Agent Windflower waved her partner into silence and frowned at me. “And… you had a copy of mine?”
“The DIA kept one,” I told her. “Something about ‘keeping tabs but it’s classified’, I don’t know. It’s a stroke of luck, though.”
“We prefer to call it ‘excellent planning’,” the MiB’s voice echoed through the Imaging Chamber. I turned a couple of heads to glare at the door - which probably confused Agent Windflower a bit, since she couldn’t hear the announcement. This was more complicated than I’d expected!
“So you’re from Intelligence,” Agent Windflower said, peering at my flashpatch. “Are you here to get us out?”
Agent Jackson spoke before I could. “Someone’s come to rescue us? Did they ‘just happen upon’ us, Selene, hmm?”
“You can score points off me later,” Agent Windflower snapped. “I’m talking to the hydra-”
“Kyaris,” I supplied.
“Right, to Agent Kyaris now. If you want to go home, we should listen to her.”
“Ah. Heh.” I rubbed at one head sheepishly with a chin. “I don’t actually have the ability to get you out of here-”
“You what?” Agent Windflower’s eyes were definitely red now, and sparks were starting to dance around her fingertips. “Then what are you here for - to gloat?”
The Sub Rosa’s voice came through the announcer. Remember about the review! she instructed, followed swiftly by a petulant-sounding Ziggy: “I’m the one in charge of this link, can you all get off the line and let me work?”
I tuned the argument out and focussed on Agent Windflower. “We’d like you to spend your time in this fic performing a survey for Intelligence - what it’s about, how bad it is, that sort of thing. The DIA are compiling a list of options to get you out of here, but until we know exactly what happened-”
“Kaitlyn,” Agent Windflower said, not bothering to look at her partner, “the hydra is an utter doodle; it says they can’t get us out.”
“They don’t need to,” Agent Jackson said. “I told you, I’ve got a plan.”
“Yes, to go sightseeing and hunt down your lust objects.” Agent Windflower couldn’t seem to decide which of us to glare at more. “If I wanted-”
“No, I can get us home any time.” Agent Jackson looked around thoughtfully. “He set up in the sewers somewhere… let’s see.”
Agent Windflower’s jaw dropped. “You can-? Why didn’t you-? Wait.” She took a deep breath and turned to face the other woman. “Is this about that golem who goes sewer-crawling in the fic? Because I don’t think that’ll work.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Agent Jackson straightened up and looked in my general direction. “Agent Kyaris - can you hear me?”
“Uh, tell her yes,” I said, and Agent Windflower did so.
“Lovely. Then tell your controllers or whatever they should contact the Administrator at OFUDisc. I think we’re in the right timeframe for him to have a presence in Ankh, and if not, there’s a few time travel methods we can use.”
Agent Windflower and I exchanged a long look, and the MiB’s voice came through the speakers. “I really should have thought of that,” he admitted. “We already invoked the Ispace Accords with Jurisfiction; OFUU was the logical next step.”
I nodded three or four heads emphatically, then realised the stranded agents were waiting on me. “Uh, they say they will,” I relayed, and Agent Windflower passed it on.
“Lovely.” Agent Jackson was practically beaming. “It’ll be great to see ev… er… well, it’ll be great to see Cazzie again, at least. Until someone shows up, then, I guess we go back to sightseeing?”
The review! the Sub Rosa practically wailed, and I nodded in the direction of the door. “Agent Windflower, we’d really appreciate it if-”
“Yes, yes.” The agent waved a hand dismissively and turned to her partner. “They want us to check up on the story and report back to them.”
“Really? Should be easy enough.” Agent Jackson glanced up at the sky, presumably reading the Words (though the hologram wasn’t high-enough resolution for me to see them). “Bunch of OCs, slightly OOC gods, some wonky SPG and dodgy canon, but a good premise and some nice turns of phrase.”
“I think they want slightly more detail than-” I began, but was cut off by yet another argument over the speakers.
“Who let the project team back in?” the MiB was demanding. “I thought for sure we had at least another ten minutes!”
“I could hardly deny my own personnel entry,” Ziggy said sweetly. “What sort of computer do you think I am? Now maybe if you’d been a bit more polite about-”
There’s no time for this, the Sub Rosa cut in. Agent Irvine, neuralyse the computer if you will. Agent Kyaris, we will portal you out in five… four…
“How do I neuralyse a-?”
I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Three…
I swung my heads back to Agent Windflower. “They’re pulling me out,” I said hurriedly. “We’ll get someone from OFUDisc to you as soon as possible. Good lu-”
Blue light surrounded me, and I dropped through the floor, out of the Imaging Chamber and back into HQ.
PPC Intelligence Report
Fic: The Games of Gods (https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10755982/1/The-Games-of-Gods)
Special Note: This report was compiled with the aid of Agent Selene Windflower (DF) and Agent Kaitlyn Jackson (DF, DCPS).
Description: The gods of Discworld and Alagaësia decide to play the game seen in The Colour of Magic. Several OCs from Ankh-Morpork are transported to Alagaësia to take part in the game (as pawns, naturally).
Plot Comments: The premise is actually a decent excuse for a crossover: the gods are capricious, whether they be Olympian or Discworld...ian. The prologue (the only portion surveyed) suffers somewhat from being a character introduction: only the sections featuring the gods actually achieve anything other than that.
OC #1: Richard the Watchman (and swamp dragon(?) Alfie).
Description: Richard is a fairly normal watchman; he smokes and complains about work. Alfie is something of a puzzle: he doesn't fit the description of any known swamp dragon breed, is at one point mentioned as being 'dragon like', and seems disinclined to explode. He may be cause for concern.
Example Passage: 'Must thank my uncle in that wizards academy nearby when I get the chance. "Huh, must get back to work soon or else ol' Richard here will get a talk down by even oler' Vimes for muckin' about." He said out loud.' This passage demonstrates most of the problems with the fic: lack of complete canon knowledge ('that wizards academy' instead of 'Unseen University'), slightly dodgy SPG ('… about." He said out loud.' instead of '… about," he said out loud.'), and characters who like to talk to themselves and speak their own backstories.
OC #2: Alice Rickes, witch.
Description: Alice is a non-typical Discworld witch. She wears a pointy hat, true - but she also claims (speaking aloud, of course) to 'keep [Richard] [from] becoming a splattered stain on the ground by using magic'. This is an obvious contrast with Granny Weatherwax's preference for 'Headology' over showy, wizard-style magic. She exhibits severe gymnophobia, being disgusted by sunbathers and mentioning that she bathes with her eyes closed. It remains to be seen whether this is plot-relevant.
Oh, and she has pointy ears. I'm not sure why.
Example Passage: '"Ankh-Morpork… It may not be the best place in the world but it has marvels and pleasant folk to get past the day." Alice said to herself with a wide grin, taking her hat off which pulled several strands of her brown hair back to fully show her pointed ears. She laid back on the rooftop, one leg across the other as she crossed her hands behind her head and closed her eyes while listening to the music of the street performers below.' This passage showcases some of the rather nice phrasing seen in the story, and its willingness to fill in details by implication (the street performers hadn't been previously mentioned - and didn't need to be!). It also mentions Alice having pointy ears, which is weird enough that I bring it up twice.
OC #3: Vaughn Moltenslate, dwarf.
Description: A merchant with a cart and a horse. It's a decent-enough profession for a dwarf, I suppose. He also has something of a temper. Honestly, there's very little to say about him, other than 'that first name doesn't sound very dwarfish'.
Example Passage: 'Vaughn did not know how long he stared hatefully at the brown horse who equalled his with it's own bored stare but the Dwarf did not feel like partaking in a staring contest with the animal, his anger could only fuel him for so long and he had no intention to try and beat the record of how long someone can hold a staring contest with a four legged animal, after all that record currently belonged to one wizard who won a staring contest against a lizard after four straight days until the reptile found better interest in the insect it was going to eat for lunch nearby.' Before you go back and check: yes, that is a single massive run-on sentence. As with Alice's passage, it shows both the good - a nice little story about a wizard - and the bad - the massive run-on sentence and the somewhat dodgy punctuation.
OCs #4 & #5: Granite the Ditch Dweller (troll) & Thumper (golem)
Description: These are probably the weakest characters in the prologue, due to the aforementioned lack of complete canon knowledge. Granite is described as 'petrified', but also as light enough to put on a wooden table, and seems to be small enough to place in a sack. He wears clothes. He drinks beer (maybe) and eats cake. He seems to be a preacher, though I don't know of what god.
Thumper Doesn't Speak In Initial Capitals, talks fairly colloquially, and is concerned that Granite spent their money on beer. He scrounges in the sewers for 'stuff', which seems like it would upset both Harry King and Adora Belle Dearheart.
Example Passage: '"At least he was wearing some undergarments this time around." Miss Glimma half joked to the Golem as he carried the troll into the bakery, he grunted as he banged his head off the door frame as he tried to move into the room. He set the perifted troll on a nearby table, the same table they used many times before for such an occasion.' This is probably the heart of the problem: it shows the problems with both Granite and Thumper (the 'he' of the passage). Miss Glimma may be a sixth OC, but appears to simply be a Generic Landlady.
Offenses Against Canon: The Games of Gods breaks with Discworld canon not overtly (except for Granite and Thumper), but in degrees. Alfie is a little off for a swamp dragon; Alice is a little off for a witch. The description of Ankh-Morpork as a place to sunbathe is a little wrong, Vaughn is a little wrong for a dwarf. The list could go on and on (and the gods aren't entirely immune either - Fate gets into an argument and goes home in something of a sulk), but I don't think it necessary.
Additional Comments: The Games of Gods doesn't appear, from the prologue, to need the attention of the PPC. What it needs is a good beta - one who knows both the canon, and punctuation. If its writers will listen to such a beta, and edit their story in line with what she suggests, they could end up with a pretty good crossover.
Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. Discworld belongs to the regrettably-late Sir Terry Pratchett. Quantum Leap belongs to NBC and Bellisario. The Games of Gods belongs to Master of The Blood Wolves, LoverofGames, Rustic94, and ArtArk, and is quoted and discussed here with permission; no claim of ownership is made by Huinesoron or any other members of the PPC.
Huinesoron’s Author’s Note: Two of the writers of The Games of Gods came to the PPC Board looking for concrit; I said I would send Kaitlyn and Selene into the prologue to take a look. As the mission went on, I realised that it would be better written as an Intelligence report - so here it is.
As stated in the report, I only looked at the prologue; I offer no judgement on anything that happens thereafter, positive or negative.