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Agent Mortic Wentway? 

Mortic looked up from his desk, where he had been trying to teach his partner to use a CAD again. It was strange to look at Elanor, who he had known for years, and have to remember that she was no longer herself. She was, in fact, Finduyn, ex-Mary-Sue, who was also the reincarnation of his partner. She was slowly regaining her memories, but large sections of her mind were still those of Finduyn. He did not know whether the old Elanor would ever return, and although the new one – who everyone in HQ still referred to as Elanor, with her agreement – was very nice, he still missed his dead partner.

Agent Wentway? 

Breaking out of his reverie, Mortic looked at the plant that had addressed him. It was a gorse-like bush with white flowers, which he recognised from a mission in Beleriand as
aeglos, the snowthorn which grew nowhere else in any world. "Yes? Did you need me?"

The bush shook its branches slightly.
I have been informed that you have been transferred to my new department. 

Mortic blinked, and beside him Elanor looked up. "Mortic? You didn't tell me we'd been moved."

"I didn't know," he replied, and added, to the snowthorn, "Are you sure you have the right people?"

Agents Mortic Wentway and Elanor Laison, formerly of the Department of Mary-Sues. Is this accurate? 

Mortic nodded. "That's us… why weren't we told about this?"

The snowthorn rustled.
I do not know. Perhaps- 

It was cut off by a [Bip] from the console. Getting up, Mortic walked over and read the message aloud.

"Agents Mortic Wentway and Elanor Laison, you have been reassigned to the Department of WhatThe. Your new head of department, the Snowthorn, will arrive shortly with your first assignment and new insignia." Keying the screen off – the power cuts the previous day had made him wary of using too much electricity – he looked back at the Snowthorn. "The Department of WhatThe?"

Yes, replied the bush. We were created to deal with stories that so violate common sense as to be intolerable to normal agents. It was assumed that as you, Mortic, had survived the death of your partner without going insane – the plant did not notice Elanor's shudder, though Mortic did, and moved over to put a hand on her shoulder – and that you, Elanor, were in the unique position of becoming a Mary-Sue after being an agent – the girl looked down at the table, and Mortic felt the slight movement of her shoulders that told him she was on the edge of tears – the pair of you would be ideal for such assignments. The plant looked at them hopefully, insofar as a plant can look hopeful.

"Fine," said Mortic, "we'll join. Now please, give us our flashpatches and mission and whatever and leave before you upset my partner further."

The Snowthorn rustled in alarm.
Oh! I did not mean to upset you, Agent Elanor! 

"I know," said Elanor, not lifting her head. "It's not your fault."

Before the bush could reply, Mortic coughed. Subdued, the Snowthorn held out a branch on which were impaled two patches showing a stylised image of a mountain with a red peak. Mortic took them, and nodded. "Is that all?"

Yes, replied the Snowthorn. Your first assignment should be coming through soon. I'll, er, be going. If you need me, my office is down the hallway. Er… goodbye. With that, the bush shuffled quickly out of the door, leaving the agents alone. Immediately, Mortic sat down by Elanor and reached out to brush his fingers against her cheek.


"I'm okay," she mumbled into the table, blinking back half-formed tears. "Just give me a few minutes."

Of course, this being the PPC, that very sentence doomed her to not having them.


Sighing, Mortic got up and moved back to the console. Keying up the first page, he skimmed the title and author's notes, and reached the first lines of the 'fic.

"What the...?!"