"Agent Wentway? Rile X, from Disturbing Acts of Violence."
Mortic looked up at the young man hovering at his door. "Which one?"
"Wha-? Oh, right." Rile X shook his head. "Sorry. Intel."
"Ah." Mortic reached back and tapped a button on his console. "So you're the one responsible for this mission?"
"I wouldn't say responsible…" Rile X trailed off with a shrug, then straightened his glasses and stepped forward, a new firmness in his posture. "On observing the fic," he said, "I determined that it did not meet the standards for DAVD, but would clearly benefit from the methods of WhatThe. Thus, the story was transferred to you, in accordance with the proper procedure."
"Uh-huh." Mortic tapped another button, sighed, and reached into a box on the console. Pulling out a small silver-and-gold wire triangle, he flicked it to Rile X. "Put that on."
Rile X's hand twitched, then stopped. "What is it?" he asked suspiciously.
"Mission pin," Mortic supplied. "It says you're on a co-mission with WhatThe. You said you're DAVD, right?"
"Uh, yes." As Mortic began to root through the box again, Rile X stared at the pin in his hand. "Agent Wentway, you seem to be labouring under a misapprehension; I didn't come down here to join you on your-"
"I need a partner. You decided to pick on me, so you just volunteered." Mortic scowled at the box, and the fistful of wire badges he was holding. "Help me out here – what is the DAVD flashpatch?"
"Ah." Rile X coughed. "Actually that's a funny story…"
"… I'm not going to find a DAVD pin, am I?"
"Probably not. Sorry."
"Fine." Closing the box, Mortic tapped at the console. "Setting disguises to… esh, the only people present are the Fellowship. I'm going to go with orcs, since they're right outside Moria. And I think we're-" He glanced at Rile X, who was still standing hesitantly just inside the door. "Pin," he said, "now. Or I send this back to the Big Thorn with a note saying you volunteered to tackle it."
Rile X swallowed. "Yes, sir," he said weakly, and did as he was told.
At the top, as high as Gandalf could reach, was an arch of interlacing letters in an Elvish character. Below, though the threads were in places blurred or broken, the outline could be seen of an anvil and a hammer surmounted by a crown with seven stars. Beneath these again were two trees, each bearing crescent moons. More clearly than all else there shone forth in the middle of the door a single star with many rays.
"There are the emblems of Durin!" cried Gimli.
Mortic, crouching behind a rock, looked baffled. "This is straight from the book," he said to Rile X. "Why didn't you pass it to Plagiarism?"
"The Venus Fly Trap's barely ever in his office," Rile X pointed out. "Last time I sent him a request, he didn't get back to me for three months."
Mortic chuckled. "Speaking as a member of a tiny department, I can't say I blame him."
"And speaking as a member of a department that was nearly wiped out," Rile X retorted, "I can safely say that DAVD would never have been so lax."
Mortic raised an eyebrow at that, but didn't say anything. His cough, on the other hand, sounded suspiciously like 'flashpatch', and Rile X coloured.
"Yes," said Gandalf, "These doors are probably governed by words. Some dwarf-gates will open only at special times, or for particular persons; and some have locks and keys that are still needed when all necessary times and words are known. These doors have no key. In the days of Durin they were not secret. They usually stood open and doorwards sat here. But if they were shut, any who knew the opening word could speak it and pass in. At least so it is recorded, is it not, Gimli?"
"It is," said the dwarf. "But what the word was is not remembered. Narvi and his craft and all his kindred have vanished from the earth."
"But do not you know the word, Gandalf? "asked Boromir in surprise.
"No!" said the wizard. "I was hoping Gimli did."
Mortic's head snapped up. "That's not right," he said.
"I told you so," Rile X said, looking smug.
As Legolas and Gimli argued over whether Gimli ought to remember the opening words, Mortic stared out at them. "What the…?"
"And you thought it was just a case of plagiarism," Rile X said. "Have a little more faith, will you?"
"It is plagiarism," Mortic growled, gesturing at the quarrelling canons. "'It was not the fault of the Dwarves'/'I have not heard that it was the fault of the Elves'? Those are canon lines, and from earlier in the same scene. They-"
"The doors are shut and the sooner we have the password the better. You must try to remember, Gimli!"
Boromir strode forward. "Stuff all that! I say we give the dwarf a good kicking. Then he'll remember all right!"
Mortic looked on in horror as Aragorn began to roll up his sleeves, and the Fellowship pulled a bewildering array of weapons out of their baggage. "Frodo would never have knuckledusters!" he protested.
"You see why it came to DAVD?" Rile X said, gesturing at Gimli. The dwarf was 'now trying to back his way through the cliff, but not getting very far', as Boromir pulled on wicked-looking metal-studded gloves, and Legolas drew out – of all things – a rice flail.
"I…" Mortic shook his head sharply. "Then why didn't DAVD take it?" he demanded.
Rile X shrugged. "The violence itself is after the story ends," he explained as Aragorn hefted 'his trusty day stick emblazoned with the emblem of the white tree'. "Which should be in another line or so."
"What?" Mortic grabbed for his belt, reaching into a small pouch.
"Right then!" said Boromir, advancing. "Come here, my-"
"Out, spirit of Uncanon!" Mortic yelled, leaping to the top of the rock and swinging his hand in a wide arc. Nine small black objects flew from his fingers, striking each member of the Fellowship on the forehead. "The power of Tolkien compels you!"
There was silence before the doors of Moria. Then Boromir shrugged and looked back at Gimli, balling one hand into a fist. "Right, then," he said again. "Come here, my beauty!"
"Oh, of course we have to do it the hard way," Mortic growled. His eyes began to flicker rapidly from side to side as he pulled up his carefully filed memories. "Boromir!" he intoned. "a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance… a man after the sort of King Eärnur of old, taking no wife and delighting chiefly in arms; fearless and strong, but caring little for lore, save the tales of old battles."
Boromir froze in place, trembling, and Mortic turned to the next likeliest threat: Legolas, who was now whirling the rice flail around his head and stalking towards Gimli. "Legolas! Let a ploughman plow, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running lightly over grass and leaf, or over snow--an Elf."
Legolas turned to stare at Mortic as he continued his litany, running through the members of the Fellowship one by one. Before moving onto the Hobbits, he broke to hiss over his shoulder to Rile X: "Do you have a neuralyser?"
"Left pocket of my pack. There's a spare pair of glasses there, too. Be ready as soon as I've done them all." He straightened his shoulders and went on: "Frodo! 'A stout fellow with red cheeks, taller than some (hobbits), and fairer than most…'"
As he drew to the end of Sam's description, with all the Fellowship now staring at him, Mortic heard Rile X stand up behind him. Not breaking his narration, the WhatThe agent reached back and retrieved his sunglasses, slipping them on. "'But in the end, it's only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.' Now!"
There was a brilliant red flash, and Rile X spoke. "You are at the Doors of Moria, trying to find a way in. Gandalf, you need to try and figure out the password."
The two agents ducked behind their rock as the canon snapped back into place. Mortic breathed a sigh of relief, then scowled down at his belt. "I don't understand why that didn't work," he murmured.
"What, the pebbles?"
"They're memory capsules," Mortic explained. "Digital data storage… they have the entire trilogy loaded onto them. Black for the books, white for the movie. They're for when I need a fast exorcism done – they've always worked before."
"Only Gimli has the memory to open the door."
Mortic almost fell over, so quickly did he turn to stare at Gandalf. "What the-? That's not even a line from the story!"
"Shouldn't it be canon?" Rile X asked, but stopped before Mortic's glare. "All right, all right. So what's going on?"
Mortic shook his head as Gandalf commanded Gimli to 'Dig! You greedy Dwarf!'. "I don't know. Maybe we've slipped into a second badfic? I've heard of that happening. But it's not…" He trailed off as a clearly bespelled Gimli started to hack at the earth with his axe – only to have Gandalf lash out at him with his staff to speed him up.
"Right, no," Mortic decided, "this is beyond me." He plucked a communicator from his belt and tapped in a code. "Rhodes? It's Mort… yeah. I need Intel to take a look at the story I'm in… I don't know, something's gone seriously wrong… okay, thanks." He grimaced and peered over the rock again at the labouring Gimli. "Don't worry," he told Rile X. "Someone should be here any-"
A blue portal popped into existence, and through it stepped a… creature. Horse-sized, scaled and clawed, with eight snakelike necks leading to viciously-fanged heads. Rile X yelped. "What in the worlds is that?"
One of the creature's heads snaked out to glare at him, forked tongue flicking over its teeth. "That," it said in a smooth contralto, "is here to save your hide. Kyaris, Intel, nice to meet you, what are you doing here?"
Mortic stared at the diminutive hydra. "We had a mission," he said slowly. "Is there a problem?"
"Oh, not much of one," Kyaris said dismissively. "You've only landed in… look, do you even know where you are?"
There was a cry from Gimli, and Mortic winced to see him cowering in the hole as Gandalf threw a cloak over him and began to give him a sound thrashing. "A badfic?" he suggested.
"No," Kyaris said firmly. "You're in the Boorman Script."
"… the who?"
"It's an unused script treatment for LotR," Kyaris supplied, "and it's supposed to be locked-down. Even if someone, somehow, managed to write a badfic based on it, you shouldn't have been sent here. When I find out who okay'd the mission, I'll have their head." The way she snapped her teeth suggested a rather more literal interpretation than might otherwise be warranted. Rile X swallowed and said nothing.
Mortic looked back at the beating of Gimli. "Are you saying… this is canon?"
"Well done, you can understand simple statements," Kyaris said. "Here's another one: don't touch anything. If you mess the Script up, we'll have Jurisfiction breathing down our necks – again." She sighed, a significant action when you have eight heads. "Just… go home, agents," she said. "Your job's done here." With that, she tapped one head against a device strapped to her side, backed through the resultant portal, and was gone.
Rile X's gaze went from the vanished portal, to the abused Gimli, to Mortic. "We can't do anything?" he demanded.
"Apparently not," Mortic said, scowling. Then he looked down at his communicator. "Although…" He tapped in a number and lifted it to his ear.
"What are you doing?" Rile X hissed. "You heard the dragon – if we so much as look sideways at this Script, we'll be for it!"
"I know," Mortic whispered. "Shh." A faint voice came from his communicator, and he grinned. "Hello, OFUM switchboard? I'm trying to reach Miss Holling… yes, of course I'll hold…"
Author's Note: The Boorman script. Just… the Boorman script.
(Also: no, of course we didn’t sic OFUM on John Boorman. But I doubt Lina would let Gandalf get away with treating Gimli like that…)
Badfic: Boorman by Hama
Disclaimer: The PPC is the creation of Jay and Acacia. Rile X was created by Katherine and adopted by me. OFUM and Lina Holling belong to Miss Cam. Jurisfiction belong to Jasper Fforde. The Lord of the Rings belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien… and, in this incarnation, to John Boorman. The story I've given the use-name Boorman belongs to Hama of TheOneRing.com.