Finduyn - Elanor, she thought to herself, I'm Elanor now - got out of her seat and walked over to the console. "What is it, Mort?" she asked.
Mortic smiled at her use of his old nickname, but remembered the 'fic and frowned. "You need to see this. You won't believe it if I tell you." He gestured at the screen and stepped back.
Elanor stepped forward and squinted at the screen. After a few moments, she looked back at Mortic. "Ah, Mortic? I can't read it."
He frowned. "Is the screen too bright for you?"
She shook her head. "It's the letters. I... Mortic, I can't read them. I learnt to read runes, and Tengwar to some extent. This... I can't remember it."
"... oh." He walked over to her. "I'll, er, get Makes-Things to put a translation module on it."
"No. I want to relearn."
Mortic bit his lip. "El, it'll be difficult. Wouldn't it be simpler...?"
She snorted. "Simpler? Yes, like as not. But I don't like simple. It's too quick. I am the daughter of Eowyn of Rohan, and I..." She tailed off, and then winced. "No. I was born in a brothel, in... somewhere, and lived there until I was fourteen, and then something happened... no, something was going to happen, and then the PPC rescued me, and... oh, I can't remember!" She sank down to the floor, leaning back against the console, her head in her hands. Concerned, Mortic knelt beside her.
"Paris," he said, and when she looked up through tear-streaked eyes – even as she had on that night before she died – he elaborated. "You were born in Paris, in the year 2103. The PPC rescued you in 2117." He sighed. "Elanor, I know you can't remember everything. I don't expect you to. I just want you to be happy."
She looked up at him, her eyes suddenly intense. "I have been happy. I remember happiness. I remember you. One night only, and then no more."
He nodded. "It was in the last 'fic we did. The night before... the night before you died." He finished in a whisper, remembering. She smiled.
"I know. I remember it. Not perfectly, but... enough." Startling him, she gave him a kiss on the cheek, and then stood. "So, Agent Wentway," she said, suddenly businesslike, "were you planning on sitting there all day, or would you prefer to read this 'fic out to me so we can get on with it?"
Chastened, Mortic rose to his feet. "Okay, then. But don't say I didn't warn you." He took a deep breath, and began.
"Dochainn Nam Blàir Trauma Of War.
"These are first person views of Merry and Pippin as they deal with being separated, the war... and the memories of it after. What they think and speak aloud is in Scottish Gaelic, to add a bit of flavour to the story, since there are so many languages in the films. I just hope that it doesn't throw anyone off, or provoke any negative reaction with Gaelic speakers. Plus it features Pippin's song from the film. The events in here aren't completely accurate and the story is a bit mushy, just to let you know.
"A few words of warning: this is slash, which is gay romance (if you don't like it, then don't read it), with a bit of sensuality and violence, death too."
Elanor stared. "... Scottish Gaelic?" Mortic nodded. "... but Westron was translated into English..."
"I know," Mortic replied. "I think what we have here is a crazed author. Probably high on language lessons and just bursting to show the world."
Elanor nodded, dazed. "Well... at least we know why it's called the Department of Doubleyou-Tee-Eff now." She shook her head in bemusement, and then nodded firmly. "Right. We have a mission. Come on, Mortic, let's get to it."
Mortic didn't move. "Elanor, they have sex... in the Houses of Healing... it's not just the language thing, we'll have to do an exorcism too."
Elanor looked back at him, head on one side. "And? I used to work in the DBS, as I recall, and I can remember how to exorcise. Come on, grab a book and we'll go."
Giving up, Mortic grabbed a copy of Return of the King and keyed open the portal. He gathered up the rest of his equipment and followed Elanor – who had gotten tired of waiting – through the portal to Edoras.
"Merridh! Na fàg mi, ("Merry! Don't leave me,
Le do thoil! Dè tha a' cheist?" Please! What's the matter?")
Mortic leapt forward in time to catch Elanor as she fell. Clinging to him, she muttered, "Three languages... it hurts..."
Mortic frowned. "Three?"
She looked up at him through eyes filled with pain. "Three. I hear them in Westron too, Mort." Mortic's eyes widened in understanding. As a natural resident of Middle-earth, even a 'Sued version, Elanor still heard things in the Canon languages as well as the English most 'Sues used. He was still absorbing this information a few moments later when Elanor said, "This is very nice, but don't we have a mission to do?"
Mortic blinked, and looked down. Then he realised that his arms were still around Elanor, though the need for support was long past. Embarrassed, he released her, but before she stepped away she gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "Mission now. Hugs later."
Quickly, the agents followed the hobbits and the wizard towards the stable. The dialogue was mostly movie-verse, with the added complication that it had been translated into Gaelic and back, lending an archaic tinge to it. Or maybe the archaisms were intentional, Elanor couldn't really tell. It was the sort of thing a badfic writer would do, but it could, equally, just be the influence of a particularly unimaginative translator.
"Ai!" Elanor stumbled as a point-of-view shift moved the agents from beside Pippin to a point closer to Merry. "Is that going to happen often?" she asked Mortic. The other agent glanced up at the Words and winced. Elanor frowned. "What?"
Before Mortic could reply, Merry started another linguistically mishmashed line of dialogue: "Rach air falbh, Pippin. ("Go away, Pippin.
Th'agad ri fàgail. Thou must leave.
Nach eil thu gam thuigsinn?" Dost thou not understand me?")
"To your question," Mortic said into the silence that followed, "yes, I'm afraid it is. I suspect it'll get easier with repetition, though. To the other... will you look at the first-person narration we're dealing with?"
Elanor looked up at the Words herself, taking a moment to remember how to see them, and another to marvel at the fact that, to her eyes, they appeared as Cirth, not Roman letters. What she read almost made her stumble again.
I practically snarled these words at him. I reeled at the realization of what I
Had done, but it was too late. And though I wanted to hug him and
Apologize to him right then, I knew that I was forbidden to do so.
He was my love, and I nearly died at the thought of the terrible pain that
I had caused him.
"Eorl's tomb," she muttered, "what's with the random capitalisation and line breaks? Not to mention the... what's the word, urple writing"
"Exactly," said Mortic, nodding. "It's almost as if the whole thing's been translated – badly – through Gaelic, not just the dialogue. But that..." He spread his hands and shrugged.
Elanor was about to reply, but another POV shift distracted her too much. Then the Hobbits started talking again, and another thought struck her. "Mort," she said, "do we need to write a charge list? I know we're not in the DMS any more, but...?"
Mortic looked at her blankly for a moment, and then, "Oh, yes, a charge list. I, uh, don't know. Who would we read it to?"
"The author, isn't it?" Elanor asked, fragments of memory from her former life - how true - at the DBS coming back to her. "Or, well, the Slash Dwimmerlaiks that come out once we do the exorcism, but it amounts to the same thing. Only..."
A pair of POV shifts in quick succession stopped her completing the thought, and then Merry started talking - wittering on, Elanor thought, not knowing where the thought came from – and she was too busy wincing at the horrible sentence structuring to speak. "Sauron is believing?" she muttered in disbelief, and then collapsed in pain.
There is nothing quite like the feel of two simultaneous, contradictory POV shifts being imposed on you. They had not been intended that way, of course, with the scene shifting from Pippin to Merry for a bit of narrative, and then back to Pippin for his departure. Unfortunately, in the event, the narrative – Merry would never forget the look on Pippin's face, and wanted to hug him – took no time at all. Consequentially, the two shifts, one the reverse of the other, were superimposed one on the other. Neither agent could stand it, although Mortic, with his Order training, managed to keep from blacking out.
But only just. He made no effort to get up, and remained lying on the dirt outside the stables through Shadowfax's departure, a POV shift to Merry, who angsted, and the end of the chapter. Then, and only then, as the people of Edoras shook off the influence of the badfic and went about their daily business, did he push himself up into a sitting position and looked at Elanor.
The girl was just coming round. "Ow," she said, "seriously major ow."
Mortic winced in sympathy. His own head felt like a nuclear bomb had just gone off inside it, and that was with mental barriers in place. "Think we'll just wait here a bit."
"Yes," replied Elanor. "Very much agree." She closed her eyes again, quite happy to ignore the world – even though it was technically 'home' – for several hours at least.
Unfortunately for the agents, the story had different plans. Without warning, the pair were teleported to the somewhat less-than-great Hall of the Kings in Minas Tirith, where – as they saw when they sat up on the cold stone slabs – Denethor, Steward of Gondor, sat upon the high throne of the King and ate.
"Ilúvatar!" Elanor muttered sharply, invoking the All-Father in one of the few Elvish words your average human in Middle-earth picked up as she scowled at the aged man. "What's he doing up there? I'm sure he wasn't, even in the films."
"And certainly not while he was eating," Mortic agreed. "Looks like the Author's getting a little... creative with the story."
"Thu, an urrainn dhut seinn idir?" ("Thou, Can thou sing at all?")
"Seinn. Ceart gu leòr ri mo dhaoine. Ach ("Yes. Well enough for my people. But
Chan eil òrain matha againn do tallaichean mòra (we have no songs for great halls
'Gus àmannan aingidhe..." (and evil times...")
"Well, maybe it's just a mistake," Elanor said. "I suppose, what with the stilted style here..."
Mortic stared at his partner. "El, are you being forgiving?"
Elanor stared at him for a moment, and then slapped herself on the side of the head. "Sorry... don't know what came over me."
Boe le henio (Thou must understand)
E si car athad iyn (He does the duty of two sons now)
Ane ah a phen (For himself; and for the one)
I u athelitha... (Who will not return)
"... huh?" Mortic shook his head. "I don't remember that."
"Nor I," Elanor said grimly. "And moreover, it makes no sense in context. Add it to... no, we don't do a charge list, right?"
Mortic shrugged. "You never really decided," he said, "and I've never been a Slasher."
Elanor closed her eyes for a moment. "I think... reading it to the author or her dwimmerlaik is only done when dealing with a 'Sue'd character. In Bad Slash, we didn't bother with charge lists."
"Right." Mortic took a moment to listen to Pippin's song – it wasn't that bad, if one ignored the parenthetical translations and the fact that it no longer rhymed – before frowning. "Wait, so if there's no charge list, why are we even here? Couldn't we just portal forward and get exorcising?"
"Observation period," Elanor said vaguely. "Bad Slash is a lot more subjective that Mary-Sue, so we just have to stick around long enough to be sure it's actually bad."
"But this isn't Bad Slash," Mortic pointed out, "it's a WhatThe. Shouldn't that change things?"
Elanor shrugged. "I suppose, in that it means we need one of those flashy things to- what is he doing?"
Completely in defiance of the film plot, Pippin had begun weeping and had thrown himself onto the floor. "O Mherridh, na fàg mi! Beir orm, ma 's e do thoil e... ("O Merry, don't leave me! Hold me, please...
Fuirich leam..." (Stay with me...")
Briefly, the Agents found themselves on the floor in a bedroom in Rohan, although where Merry had acquired one neither of them knew. The hobbit stepped dazedly over them to the window, and then they were transported back to Gondor, where Pippin too was gazing out of a very peculiar window. They were both quite glad that they weren't standing up enough to see out of it, as it apparently showed both Rohan and Mordor, despite them being pretty much in opposite directions from Minas Tirith, and Rohan hidden by mountains besides. Pippin thought one line about Frodo and Sam and then, tribute to the actual plot done, the slash returned in full and the entire setting vanished into a twilit mist. Elanor blinked. "What...?"
-Tro dubhair, chàmi thu... (Through shadow, I will see thee...)
A leannain, tha sinn air leth à chèile... (Darling, we are separated from each other...)
-Ach cha stàd an t-astar sinne, a rùin... (But the distance shall not stop us, love...)
Tha 'n speur ceudna tharainn... (The same sky is above us...)
First Merry's and then Pippin's voice echoed through the undefined space as Mortic skimmed the Words, trying to find out what had happened. "Ah, there it is," he said at last. "Seems that 'Although I knew that we were so far apart, we seemed to hear each other in our minds... as though we could hear each other's thoughts...'"
"How sweet," Elanor commented over the continuing dialogue from the absent hobbits. "Pity telepathy doesn't exist in Middle-earth. Except for Ainur and some elves, but still, not like back home."
The casual way she said this threw Mortic for a moment. "Wait, telepathy exists where you came from?"
Elanor looked at him curiously. "Well, yes. Telepathy, telekinesis, precognition... how do you think the Commonwealth won the War? I wasn't there, but even I know that."
"Er, right." Mortic shook his head. "And are you...?"
Elanor shrugged. "Not that I know of. It's not that common, it just pops up at random. I remember... Steve said something once about it running in families, but other than that... anyway, my point was that, while humans can have it there, they can't here, and nor can hobbits."
"Right. Another count for the non-existent charge list, then." Mortic looked around for a moment, and then glanced up at the words. "End of the chapter coming up... then there's the glossed-over versions of the battles of the Pelennor and Black Gate, Pip mopes over Merry in the Houses of Healing, and then..."
"The sex," Elanor said grimly. "I think we'll want to get them before it actually starts, the idea of watching it doesn't exactly appeal to me."
"Nor to me," Mortic agreed. "But I wonder... we've got the language problem recorded, and this telepathy thing, along with the sex, means the story's sufficiently bad besides... any reason for us to watch the remainder?"
"Hmm." Elanor looked thoughtful. "No, I don't think so. Just portal us through to the exorcism point, then?"
Mortic nodded, and fished out the Remote Activator. Just as the last line of the telepathic exchange sounded – Merry and Pippin in unison, chanting "Bidh gràdh agam dhut gu bràgh..." – the two Agents stepped through to the Houses of Healing.
Taking one look at the scene, Elanor span around. "I said before the sex, Mort! Naked hobbits are not a good thing!"
Mortic blinked, and glanced up at the Words, not wanting to see the actual scene.
There he was, his pale back taut with muscles from the journey...
His once-slender arms were now thicker and stronger...
His adorable little backside stood out all too appealingly in the shadows...
"... oh. Sorry."
Elanor rolled her eyes. "I'm sure. Come on, time to get exorcising." Stepping forward, she coughed, just as the POV shifted to Pippin.
I was horrified that somebody was with me while I
The story came to a screeching halt as Pippin realised just who had interrupted, and that there were more people than himself and Merry in the room. With a shriek – a shriek with disturbing Gaelic echoes – he grabbed a blanket to cover himself. Elanor breathed a sigh of relief and took Mortic's copy of Return of the King from his unresisting hands.
"Thank you so very much. Now, then, let's see... by the power of the All-Father and the authority of the House of Eorl, I bid you leave these poor holbytlan, foul dwimmerlaik of slash. As a representative of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, I bind you and cast you out, that this world return to its true state, as it was when Professor Tolkien first translated the Red Book. Get thee hence!" With unnerving accuracy, she threw the book at Pippin's forehead. Trailing golden sparks that briefly formed runic symbols in the air before dissolving, it bounced from the terrified hobbit and struck Merry, who had moved over to protect his lover, on the shoulder before dropping to the floor, power dispelled. From the two Canons a silver mist rose, ascending with a despairing scream before dissipating into the air. Elanor breathed a sigh of relief. "You know," she said over her shoulder, "I never really thought that would work."
"Mherridh?" ("Merry?") said Pippin in confusion, staring at his friend. "Càit' a bheil...?" ("Where am...?") Mortic sighed.
"Still not done. Ah, halflings?" He waved a hand to catch their attention, and smiled as they both looked at him. "Thank you so much. Elanor, sunglasses." The girl quickly put her sunglasses on, and then grabbed Mortic's set from his pocket and slipped them onto his nose as he held up the neuralyser. "Thanks. Now, if you'll both look at this..."
There was a flash of red light, and the two hobbits were once again staring at each other in bemusement. "What's going on?" said Pippin, speaking for the first time in only one language. Mortic nodded.
"It worked. Thank goodness. Now, Elanor, come on." Mortic flicked open a portal, disregarding the Canons entirely.
"Wait!" Merry called. "What's going on? Who-?"
The blue light enfolded Elanor as she stepped through the portal into Response Centre #2510. As Mortic joined her and closed the doorway to Middle-earth, she looked at him curiously. "What just happened?" she asked.
Elanor fwapped him lightly across the head. "Not that. Don't neuralysers usually leave them as blank slates?"
"New model," Mortic said, showing her the device. "Because of the nature of our department, we can't always be sure what's actually meant to be going on. This thing just sets their minds to the most canon-appropriate thought patterns automatically."
"Huh." Elanor shook her head in wonderment. "The things you learn, huh? Now, come on, you're buying me lunch."
Mortic blinked. "What?"
"I didn't think it was that complicated. I figure, you let me get killed, that means you owe me at least a lunch." Mortic winced, but she cut him off before he could apologise. "If you prefer, just think of it as, oh, a friendly thing to do." She smiled at him, teeth gleaming in the harsh light of the Response Centre. Mortic raised an eyebrow.
"What, at the cafeteria? I wouldn't call that friendly, more fatal."
Elanor waved a hand dismissively. "Whichever. Come on, Agent Wentway."
Mortic nodded. "All right, then. If we can find the way." He opened the door to the corridor outside, and looked around to see if anyone was nearby. "Looks like... ah, no, there's someone."
"Anyone we know?" Elanor asked, peering over his shoulder. Mortic glanced back at her.
"I'm not sure, they're a bit far off, but... wait. Oh, no. Not them." He had suddenly gone very pale, and Elanor frowned.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
"I'm not sure... just a moment." He muttered a few words, and then peered out into the corridor again. What followed startled Elanor as much as anything had. With a whimper, her partner threw himself back into the Response Centre, dragging her with him and slamming the door before looking around frantically, apparently for something to barricade it with. As he ran over to the table and began to drag it across the floor, Elanor recovered from her shock.
"What is it, Mort? Who did you see?"
Mortic stopped, and stared at her, terrified. "Black cat on silver sash," he said in a rush. "It's the DIS, Elanor. They're back."