"You can't do this!"
Do I look like I want to? The Board is pressuring me, and with your unorthodox situation...
Agent Kaitlyn scowled at her Department Head. "It's not my fault Chelsea went doo-lally," she protested. "Well, except in the technical sense. Either way, I shouldn't be punished just because she's in FicPsych."
You are not being 'punished', Caseworker Kaitlyn, dear me no! It takes a lot for a six-foot stalk covered in yellow flowers to look shocked, and the Asphodel managed it beautifully. This is a promotion! Surely you'd much rather spend your time in an active, go-getting department, pulling all the interesting missions, than sitting around at a desk no doubt leaf-deep in dust, here in the backwoods of the PPC.
"Sarcasm is unbecoming," Kaitlyn observed, then grimaced. "I always figured the condescension we get from other agents didn't extend to Upstairs."
If only, the Asphodel muttered. Why do they have such a hard time accepting that we're a real department, not a bunch of slackers in need of a proper job? 'Promotion' indeed.
Kaitlyn nodded firmly. "And 'backwoods'? Do they even know how many calls we get through?"
… not very many, as I recall, the Asphodel replied. Don't you only go on missions because you've bribed a Spy to pass them to you?
"That is entirely beside the point," Kaitlyn sniffed. "Ma'am, seriously – I don't want to join the Floaters. I'm happy where I am."
I know. The yellow Flower shrugged her leaves. But you're one of the few Caseworkers we have with no second position, and the Board is pushing hard for standardisation. I'm afraid I have no choice.
Kaitlyn sighed, looked down at her feet, then raised her head again. "I still have a job here, though, right? I mean – if anyone calls in for Pippin's caseworker, you'll let me know?"
Never doubt it, the Asphodel assured her. Any time, day or what passes for night around here. The Department of Character Protective Services will always need you.
"Thank you," Kaitlyn said, picking up her transfer papers from the desk at last. "RC 7219," she read. "Well… goodbye, ma'am."
Goodbye, Agent Kaitlyn. And good luck.
Kaitlyn grinned at her. "Who needs luck?" she asked. "I've got a funny robot!"
… no, you haven't.
"Figure of speech shuttup."
Kaitlyn hummed softly to herself as she ambled through the Headquarters of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, known to its inhabitants simply as HQ. Many years' experience had taught her that rushing anywhere in HQ was a recipe for wandering in circles. Navigation for PPC agents operated on a kind of twisted Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: instead of having to decide between knowing how fast she was going and where she actually was, Kaitlyn had a choice between knowing where she was going, and actually getting there. That was also why she was walking with her eyes closed, though after colliding with three fellow agents and countless walls, she was beginning to regret that decision.
The next impact felt less jarring than a generic surface wall, but more solid (and less heavily-armed) than Agent Silver had. Kaitlyn opened her eyes and beamed triumphantly at the wooden door. "Destination get!" she murmured, reaching up to straighten the number sign hanging from its lopsided hook. Then she knocked, straightened her jacket, and stepped inside.
Response Centre 7219 looked like any other PPC Response Centre: a couple of tables, a beanbag or two, a closed door to the small living quarters, a wall-hugging console, and an irate agent standing in the middle of it all. In this case, the agent was a tall skinny woman, apparently of Asian extraction, holding a pile of books and a throwing star and seemingly ready to use either. "This had better be good," she growled.
"Aw, man, I hope so too." Kaitlyn grinned at her. "Hi, I'm Kaitlyn. If you're Selene Thingy Thingy Whatsit, I'm your new partner."
"Oh." Selene grimaced, placed the books on a desk, and sheathed the throwing star. "Lovely. And it's Selene Morgana Lillith… well, to stick with the short form, Perdita X Windflower."
"Right," said Kaitlyn, shutting the door behind her and throwing her pack onto the other table. "Thingy Thingy Whatsit. Nice to meet you." She held out a hand, which Selene ignored.
"Just stick with Selene," she said, rubbing her eyes. "So you're new to Floaters too, yes?"
"DCPS," Kaitlyn confirmed. "Apparently I need a second job. You?"
"I used to be with DOGA. That was a few years back; when I came back, I decided I needed a change."
"You say that in the voice of someone whose 'decision' was made by a third party," Kaitlyn observed.
Selene gave a dry chuckle. "You're not as stupid as you look."
Selene ignored her. "The Kudzu was of the opinion that I would do better in a less pyromanic department. Hence, Floaters." She gestured around at the RC. "Of course, I'm still right next door to my old boss, and halfway across HQ from the Floating Hyacinth – but when has logic ever mattered around here?"
"You've got that right," Kaitlyn said fervently. "So, you're a vampire, right?"
Selene blinked at her. "Um, yes," she managed. "I didn't think that was in the file, though…"
"I'm not as stupid as I look," Kaitlyn replied. "You don't show your teeth much, but there's definitely something weird going on with your canines. And your eyes go all red when you get cross."
"Ah." Selene studied her with an intense gaze that left Kaitlyn feeling as if she'd been not only mentally undressed, but also mentally dissected. "Yes, I'm a Stokerverse vampire, I'm about two hundred and fifty years old, I drink blood, and I can turn into a wolf and call down lightning. Is this going to be a problem?"
Kaitlyn shrugged. "Not for me," she said. "So why do you look like a Steampunk Borg?"
Selene reached up and brushed a hand over the tangle of copper pipes and brass cogs covering the left side of her face. "The Key keeps me sane," she said. "I had a… bit of a breakdown five years back, and the people who pulled me out of FicPsych last year gave me this. It helps me keep the crazy parts locked away while my mind heals."
Kaitlyn frowned at her. "'Last year'… you were in FicPsych for five years?"
"So I'm told," Selene confirmed. "But let's not talk about that. I'm a vampire, you're, what, a hobbit?"
Kaitlyn squealed with delight and threw her arms around the other woman. "Thank you!" she exclaimed. "Thank you so much!"
"Er," Selene managed, her body completely still, "you're welcome? Please release me."
Kaitlyn coughed and stepped back. "Right. Sorry. Not the hugging kind?"
"No." Selene took a deep breath. "No, I think that's safe to say."
"Okay. No problem. Objection noted. Hugging protocols disabled." Kaitlyn beamed at her new partner. "But seriously, thank you."
"Like I said, you're welcome. But thank me for what?"
"For thinking I was a hobbit," Kaitlyn shrugged. "They're so adorable, but I only get to be one on missions." She flicked a sceptical glance at Selene. "That said – why did you think I was a hobbit? I'm only a few inches shy of six foot!"
Selene coughed. "It's been a while since I went to Middle-earth," she tried, but couldn't meet Kaitlyn's gaze. "Look, I did say I went crazy. Things have gotten a bit… muddled."
"Oh, great." Kaitlyn brushed past her and began a circuit of the Response Centre, running her fingers over the furniture. "Is that why you've got half the Canon Library in here?"
"I need to brush back up on my canon knowledge," Selene agreed. "I have to get myself back in shape before the Flowers send us a-"
"-mission. Oh, maw-wallops."
Disclaimer: The Protectors of the Plot Continuum are the creation of Jay and Acacia.
We are the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. We are a group of humour writers who analyse bad fanfiction and highlight what exactly makes it bad. Our agents are fictional characters who travel through the Word Worlds, protecting canon from the scourge of badfic. We are not them, and they are not us. They can destroy badfic; we don’t even try to touch the original.
But they’re far more interesting to read about than us. ;)