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The Wrecked Music Department

Purpose: To deal with the ‘badfic’ of music - bad covers, plagiarised portions of songs, and terrible music videos.

Abbreviation: WMD, because of course it is.

Flash Patch: A Fibonacci spiral.

Head of Department: The Inverted Cactus. No-one is quite sure how she ended up with all her thorns pointing inwards (though speculation says it was the same incident that left Otik as a plank), but she makes a great rainstick.

Known Divisions:

Known Agents: Althea Gold (Reclamation), Tracer (Reclamation)

Years Active: 1997 - 2003

Reason for Shutdown: Prioritisation. The continuing onslaught of badfic from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films led to the closure of several minor departments, with most of their agents transferring into the fledgeling Department of Floaters. The WMD was something of a special case - its area of operation was outside the norm for the PPC - but it was closed down nonetheless.

“So, ever worked in Music before?”

Althea Gold shook her head. “Assassin all the way,” she said. “I’ve covered songfics, though.”

Tracer smiled slightly. “That won’t do you any good around here,” she said. Something about her tone irritated Althea – she didn’t know why, but it did.

“I have been doing this a while, you know,” she said irritably. “I mean, not to boast, but I lived through the Reorganisation – I think I can handle the idiosyncrasies of your department.”

“They all do,” Tracer said with a shrug. “So let’s test you and see, eh?” She tapped a few keys on the console, and the familiar portal appeared. Althea stepped through, her new partner close behind her.

The other side was a bleak, white landscape which seemed to shift around her. “Where are we?” Althea shouted over the wind. “Forodwaith? Hoth?”

“I knew you wouldn’t get it,” Tracer replied, insufferably smug. Althea bent her head under the weight of the wind and tried to think. It was as if the whole world was under a subtle pressure, weighing her down.

“Mama! Mama!”

“… is that a child?” Althea exclaimed. “Out in this? What kind of author-“

“Not an author,” Tracer corrected, “and it’s not old enough to be a child. Come on, Agent Gold, this is the Wrecked Music Department. Use your thinking muscles.”

Althea scowled. There was nothing here! Just snow, more snow, a random infant, and that weight. She caught Tracer’s eye, saw the amused look, and then… it clicked. She looked around at the landscape in a different way.

“Ice. Ice. Baby. And we’re under pressure.” Althea lifted her head and glared at Tracer. “Is your whole department just one long bad pun?”

“Seems like it sometimes,” Tracer replied cheerfully. “But there’s work to be done here, too. We’re in the Reclamation Division, which means we have to find stolen bits of songs and send them home. So here in Ice Ice Baby…”

“We find the bassline from Under Pressure and send it back to Queen,” Althea deduced with a sigh. “And how do we do that?”

“You can feel the pressure,” Tracer told her. “Now try and find the centre of it…”

The Department of Clichéd Humor

Purpose: The title says it all. If a badfic spends its time quoting popular comedy routines, parodying pop culture, or simply telling jokes older than the entire PPC, the DCH is on the case.

Abbreviation: DCH. Usually pronounced ‘duck’. AKA The Madhouse.

Flash Patch: Among others: white text saying ‘[Insert Badge Here]’; white text saying ‘404 Error, Badge Not Found’; very small white text saying ‘I joined the Protectors of the Plot Continuum and all I got was this lousy flashpatch’. The DCH was notorious for being unable to stick with one patch, at one point changing six times in one week.

Head of Department: The Bladderwrack, who had not yet become Sadistic. After the department collapsed, it spent six miserable years doing odd jobs for the other Flowers in an effort to persuade them to give it another chance, before finally starting the DCUP.

Known Divisions:

Known Agents: Mylissa, Partner.

Years Active: 1997 - 1998.

Reason for Shutdown: Within the space of six months, they drove every last one of their agents insane.

“Ni! Ni!”

“This… is an ex-parrot!”

“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”

The Department of Clichéd Humor didn’t have its own private cafeteria. It had been suggested, with alarming regularity, but the mysterious figure who ran the PPC had never gotten around to authorising it - and any attempts to sneak around him or her were a sure path to a run-in with the DIS.

Nevertheless, the Ducks had found a way to ensure themselves some separation from the rest of the PPC. Or, Mylissa thought to herself miserably, to guarantee our isolation. Once upon a time, she’d had friends from several departments, despite the rivalries which made those difficult. Now that the Ducks spent their breaks sitting in a corner of the cafeteria quoting Monty Python at the top of their lungs, everyone did their best to stay out of earshot.

“Penny for your thoughts?” said Partner, and Mylissa looked up to see - Yep, called it - her holding out a copper coin. She waved it away, not even attempting a smile.

“Not worth the price,” she said. “Just the usual maudlin self-pity.”

“Oh, we can’t have that,” Partner said, frowning. “Let’s see… knock, knock.”

“I refuse to answer the door,” Mylissa said promptly, and Partner scowled.

“That’s not very cliche of you, Mylissa.”

“It’s not actually required, you know,” Mylissa told her. “I realise you changed your name in order to fit in better, but we’re actually allowed to be just as sane as the next agent.”

“Well, exactly!” Partner pointed at the nearest of their colleagues, who was walking exaggeratedly across a table. As Mylissa watched, he slipped on a carefully-placed banana skin and went down hard.

“See? Now then, where was I? An Assassin, a Slasher, and a Guard walk into Rudi’s…”

Mylissa groaned and bent her head to rest on the table. “Chocolate,” she moaned. “I need chocolate…”

The Department of Rampant Sexism

Purpose: Created in the wake of the Reorganisation, the DRS set out to fight sexist stereotypes - Designated Mysoginists, Damsels in Distress, and all the others. They worked closely with the Department of Bad Slash.

Abbreviation: DRS. There was debate in the department as to whether this should be pronounced ‘dress’ (to promote inclusiveness), or emphatically shouldn’t be (because it would exclude male agents).

Flash Patch: A broken heart.

Head of Department: The Shrinking Violet.

Known Agents: The Wallflower.

Years Active: 1999 - 2003.

Reason for Shutdown: Prioritisation. The continuing onslaught of badfic from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films led to the closure of several minor departments. The DRS’ agents split between the new Department of Floaters and the Department of Bad Slash.

I realise it’s not an analogous situation, but it’s pretty close, right?

“Well, yeah, on, like, a comic scale,” Agent Luxury said, waving the hand that held her bar of chocolate. “But so what? We can’t do anything about it!”

You’re feeling unusually loquacious today, the Wallflower observed. Are you ill?

“Heeey, don’t be mean!” Lux scowled. “I’ve never been lock- look- thingy in my life.”

“What does a cat-fight look like if one of you’s a Flower?” Sean wondered aloud. Lux giggled, while the Wallflower angled a blossom at him in blank incomprehension.

My point remains, the Wallflower said, choosing to ignore the male Slasher entirely. Genderbending is an inherently sexist concept - it presumes that it matters how one identifies oneself.

Lux stared at it for a moment, then burst out laughing. “Oh, I see!” she exclaimed. “You really don’t get it, do you?”

Is there something to ‘get’?

“Well, duh!” Lux took another bite of her chocolate bar and tapped Sean on the head. “Smmn! Imt dmmt mdrmnd abt-”

You appear to be drooling confectionary.

Lux swallowed her mouthful and tried again. “It doesn’t understand about sex, Sean.”

Of course I do! the Wallflower protested. I work in the Department of Rampant Sexism, remember? I know precisely how much stock you humans set in preferred pronouns, though I can’t imagine why. And I’m trying to say that-

“Oh yeeees, I know what you’re trying to say,” Lux cut it off. “But there’s loads you don’t know. Sex isn’t all about words, you know!”

… but gender is a grammatical concept, the Wallflower pointed out. What else could it be about?

Lux already had a huge grin on her face, but somehow it managed to stretch even wider. “Oh Seanish,” she said in a singsong voice. “The nice Flower wants to learn what sex is…”

Sean looked up, his grin matching his partner’s. The Wallflower shuddered at their expressions.

Why do I fear I’ve just made a terrible mistake?

The Department of Emergencies

Purpose: Sometimes, everything goes wrong. It might be a mission which takes a sudden turn for the horrifyingly bad; it might be an agent injured in the field; it might even be the unexpected deletion of a story, throwing the agents into the void. The Department of Emergencies is there to help - or at minimum, to wring their hands and look distressed.

Abbreviation: DE

Flash Patch: A red bell.

Head of Department: The Firethorn.

Known Agents: Dead, Heal

Years Active: 1996 - 2003. It was founded when the DIS stopped undertaking rescue missions, focussing instead on purely internal matters.

Reason for Shutdown: Prioritisation. The continuing onslaught of badfic from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films led to the closure of several minor departments, with most of their agents transferring into the fledgeling Department of Floaters. In the case of Emergencies, it was merged with the Special Operations Department and the Special Sue Unit to form the Special Operations Division.

“But they can’t just shut us down!” Heal thumped a fist onto the surround of the Fountain of Bleepka. “They can’t!”

In point of fact, they can, the Firethorn said sullenly. They are the Board of Flowers, and Firstborn to boot. Who am I to argue with them?

“You’re our Head of Department,” Heal said firmly. “If you protest this, we’ll all stand behind you. Dead’s already got that Vulcan from Godplayers - Sebak - composing a treatise on why it’s not logical to close Emergencies.”

They won’t listen, the Firethorn told her. It isn’t just us, you know. Apparently an Agent ‘NytBloomer’ has managed to spark something of a revolution in the Board’s thinking.

Heal looked dubious. “The ‘floater’, right? After the old nickname for Multiple Offenses?”

Correct. The Firethorn waved a leaf. The Sunflower Official has become rather enamoured of the notion of a department which will deal with every kind of story.

“That’s what the APD is for,” Heal pointed out. “I don’t see what-”

But our new department will not have fandom-based divisions, said a new voice, and Heal turned to see a waterlily of some kind bobbing in the Fountain. Any one of my agents will be able to take any mission. You see the advantage, I’m sure.

“In theory, I guess,” Heal said, “but I don’t- who are you, anyway?”

The Floating Hyacinth, the Flower told her as it bobbed past. I’ll be heading up the Department of Floaters. It rounded one of the mini-Balrog statues and passed out of sight, but its voice remained strong. I hope, Agent Heal, you will become a productive member of our new team.

Heal turned back to the Firethorn. “But why shut down Emergencies?” she asked plaintively. “We’ve done good work these last seven years. During the Reorganisation, that Sue invasion...” She lifted up her hands in a shrug of incomprehension.

Like I said - it isn’t just us. The Firethorn flicked a branch in the direction the Floating Hyacinth had bobbed off. The Board is calling it the Great Consolidation. Over a dozen small departments are being merged into the Floaters, to create a team of… of generalised specialists. Because we never split along fandom lines, you already have a grounding in the common fandoms. With only a little training, you can become proficient in every kind of badfic, as well - or at least, proficient enough for the Floaters.

“But I don’t want to,” Heal practically wailed. “I was happy in Emergencies - we were a team, and a good one at that. It won’t be the same if we get broken up.”

I agree, the Firethorn said, but we are not being given a choice. It flurried its leaves for a second, then leant in and lowered its mental voice. However… there are rumours that the Special Operations Department and Special Sue Unit are also being merged into the Floaters. There’s enough overlap between your skill-sets that the establishment of a division to continue emergency work is viable.

Heal brightened. “A Division of Emergencies - I can handle that. I don’t think Dead will like it one bit, but-”

Not Emergencies, the Firethorn interrupted. The Bonsai Monkey Puzzle has successfully argued that SOD is the best pattern to follow. But still, the Emergencies team can continue, as part of the Special Operations Division.

Heal gave it a long look, then nodded slightly. “It won’t be the same.”

Few things ever are.

The Department of Wilful Ignorance

Purpose: There are stories out there in the Multiverse which could have been good. Really, they could. Well, tolerable, at least. But in order for that to be the case, the author really needed a beta. Maybe it's the consistently bad spelling, maybe it's the incorrect facts about canon, maybe it's just really stilted dialogue - the DUI is there to set things right.

The primary approach for a DUI agent is to review the 'fic, offering to beta. Of course, 'primary' doesn't mean 'ever works', so they have to have other methods to hand. One technique used in First Person stories is to allow an agent to become the 'me' character - but to equip them with a Personality Augmentor, which will enable them to tweak the story as they go, and wrestle it back into line.

Abbreviation: DUI. The Ivy insisted it be written that way.

Flash Patch: A sadistic bow-tie. Because, as a non-beta'd fic might say, "Bow-ties are cruel!"

Head of Department: The Ivy. Like any good beta, he is capable of making a serviceable house into a thing of beauty - or, if necessary, to tear it down.

Known Agents: Lorelei, Tona.

Years Active: 2008 - 2009. The DUI was a short-lived attempt to replace/revive the Department of Author Correspondence, and was never very successful.

Reason for Shutdown: The simple fact that their primary method consistently failed, and that their specialised technology, such as the Personality Augmentor, was even less reliable than most PPC tech.

I leant against the wall and sighed. It was all too much! If Professor Snape didn’t start to pay attention to me, I would never get a decent grade in Potions! How would I bear it?

“You’re holding up well,” Lorelei murmured from behind the settee. “Motivation is up ten points, Misunderstanding is down three.”

I gazed off into the distance, picturing his scowl and greasy hair. It just wasn’t fair! How could he ignore me this way? Wasn’t I good enough?

“Getting a bit whingey there,” Lorelei supplied, “but we can write that off as a character trait. Remember, for the angsty past we want to-”

My illegitimate father, James Potter, had taught me how to be the best at potions, but now Severus only had eyes for my little brother Harry. Here was I, trying to attract his attention, while all he ever did was talk about Harry!

Lorelei frowned and tapped the 4MAD against the sofa. “You all right in there, Tona?” she hissed. “The changes are holding - you’re talking about grades, not sex - but if you tried to tweak the backstory, it didn’t take.”

I straightened up, suddenly decisive. Something had to be done. I had to do something to attract Severus’ attention. I had to burn the school down. Yes. That was the only way. Fire would be my salvation.

Lorelei swore and fumbled in her pack. “Merlin take these Augmentors! Where is it? Come on, stupid thing-”

I raised my wand, manifesting a magical nuclear bomb, and looked out of the window. Soon they would all know my power! Soon they would pay! Soon my future would be-

The Crash Dummy hit Marlene Potter-Snape on the side of the head. She tumbled to the ground - and the dummy popped open in an instant to take her place.

-secure. But as I looked at the devastating weapon of destruction I had created, I felt my heart rise within me. Would Severus want this? Or would he want… my heart?

As the Sue-infused dummy began the unenviable task of trying to bring its story back to how the author had written it, Lorelei skirted the couch and pulled Tona out of the way. “What happened in there?” she hissed.

Tona shook her head, still dazed. “I don’t know,” she said, pulling the Personality Augmentor from around her neck and staring at it. “I think it went into subconscious control - caught the whole ‘PPC agent, want to destroy badfic’ thing, you know? Then it just… went with it.”

Lorelei shook her head. “Back to Makes-Things with it,” she said. “If he can’t get it working, and we can’t get the authors to start accepting betas…” She held up the 4MAD, with its quartet of dials. “Motivation’s plummeting, Misunderstanding’s rocketing, Mistreatment’s gone down a few ticks in the last few seconds… only Mangling’s stayed steady, and she was never too bad at the language side.”

“It’s out of our hands, now,” Tona sighed, as Marlene swept out of the room on her quest to ensnare the heart of one Severus Snape. “I’ll pass it back to Intel first thing.”

Disclaimer: The PPC is the creation of Jay and Acacia, as are Agents Sean, Lux, and George, and the Department of Godplayers. All agents mentioned in the DG belong to other people. The Department of Clichéd Humor, and Agents Mylissa (DCH) and Althea Gold (WMD) belong to Kaitlyn. Agents Lux and Sean were created by Jay and Acacia and are free to use. All other agents are my own creations, and are designated free-to-use.

The Department of Godplayers

Note: The Department of Godplayers originally stood in the place of the Department of Emergencies above. It was removed due to potential conflict with Agent Sebak’s future stories. The information below may not be accurate.

Purpose: As DAVD is to violence, God Mods is to power. Some characters - canonical or OC - are just too strong to be taken down by your average agent. Godplayers were specially trained to confront even the most obscenely overpowered characters and come away on top.

After their closure, it turned out that actually, normal agents could handle things just fine.

Abbreviation: DG, God Mod Department

Flash Patch: A cat’s head.

Head of Department: The Catnip.

Known Agents: George, Steve Holmes, Tessa, Sebak, Tish Jameson

Years Active: 1993 - 2003. After the Reorganisation, it was suggested that it was founded by the Mysterious Somebody to ensure no characters as powerful as himself accidentally ended up in the PPC.

Reason for Shutdown: Prioritisation. The continuing onslaught of badfic from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films led to the closure of several minor departments, with most of their agents transferring into the fledgeling Department of Floaters. In the case of Godplayers, several of its agents eventually formed the Eclectic Subdivision of Advanced Species (ESAS).