As the report should have made clear, this 'fic was written by the same author as most of the DOGA archives (who says he will have to neuralyse me so's I don't remember he exists). It no longer exists online, and thus the mission was run from the remains on his hard drive. It is not going to be put online, either, for your own good. Also, I gather Agent Louise would kill him if he posted it again. ~Terri Ryan, DOGA Archivist
Rings of Power
I was sitting in a corner of my Response Centre with a book. Louise and I planned to go on a hunt for the cafeteria after she got out of the shower. She takes a lot of showers, does Lou. I've never been able to find out why. That, however, isn't particularly relevant, as we didn't get as far as that hunt.
I sat up with a groan. "Another mission?"
In the bathroom, the shower stopped. "You get it," Lou called. "I'll be out in two minutes."
I jumped up and walked over to the console, where I managed to hit the big red button before the thing started its noise again. I frowned down at the screen and muttered, "What is this?"
I skimmed down the words of the story, trying to find the reason it was sent to us, while I waited for Lou to get out. Most girls, I gather, would take quite a while to get ready after a shower, but if my partner says two minutes, she means it. You can set your watch by her, although I don't know why you'd want to.
"Right, let's see it," she said, walking over in a cloud of steam. Her hair was still wet, so her hands were occupied with a towel, and I helpfully scrolled the screen back up for her. She frowned at the title displayed there. "Rings of Power? Now where have I heard... oh. Oh, no."
I blinked. "You know it?" I asked, feeling rather stupid and wondering if it was so famous that I ought to have heard of it myself. Fortunately for my self-esteem, that wasn't the case.
"I know it, yes," Lou confirmed, "but I thought it was destroyed. He told me he deleted it!" She sounded so distressed that I took a step backwards – when Lou is upset, she tends to lash out. Noticing, she shook her head. "I'll be okay. It's just... I thought it was gone. I never wanted to hear about it again."
"It's bad then, is it?" I shuddered. While Noncoty had hardly been a walk in the park, I knew that there were far worse 'fics out there. Just before I'd joined DOGA, Agents Dafydd and Selene had taken on the infamous 'legolas'. I hoped this 'Rings of Power' wasn't as bad as that.
"Not bad," Lou corrected. "Just... well, it's personal."
I nodded, although I was still very confused. Was there some mistake in it that most would ignore, but Lou had major problems with? I knew there were agents who did that, but I'd not seen Lou do it. "Well," I said, "the sooner we finish it, then..."
Lou nodded. "I suppose." She shook her head again. "I wish I didn't have to do this... which is probably why I do have to."
I patted her shoulder sympathetically. "Upstairs do tend to give people the most difficult missions they can, true," I said. My partner smiled slightly.
"They do, or someone else," she agreed. "Now come on. We're lucky here – the characters aren't very good at, well, anything, so they should be easy enough to kill. I don't recall a geographical aberration, though, so I'm not sure what excuse they're using."
I skimmed the page again. "Apparently the size of Lothlórien has been 'severely compromised'." Lou rolled her eyes.
"Now that's pathetic. I happen to know the thing was written with atlas in hand." She sighed. "Well, enough time wasted. Set disguises for Lórien elves." I grinned. Elves again! Tapping the appropriate buttons on the console, I complied and opened the portal. Lou nodded approvingly. "Now, have you had any more practice with the bow?"
I shook my head. There hadn't been any time, what with all the missions we'd been having. Lou sighed. "I'll kill them, then, if we have to, which I'm not convinced we will." She grabbed a bow from the cabinet under the console and jumped through the portal. I followed, of course.
We emerged on a fairly normal looking street in the 'real' world. Lou frowned. "This looks like the Prologue," she muttered. Then there came the sound of running feet, and she hissed under her breath. "Oh yes. It is. Come on, Nar, we need to be quick for this."
I watched as a group of six teenagers ran around the corner, heading towards the stone circle at the other end of the road that stood, according to the Words, 'majestic against the sunset'. Lou nodded thoughtfully as one of the group stopped, apparently out of breath. "They're chasing him at the front," she explained, "although I can't quite remember what he was called this time."
I glanced up at the Words. "Al Jackson, apparently." Lou shuddered.
"Honestly, the number of times he reuses names... right. Our cue's coming up. I think-"
She didn't get any further. The first boy – Al – crossed the invisible boundary of the stone circle and vanished mid-step, a 'tortured groan' echoing through the air. The other four – the one who stopped still some distance back, catching his breath – didn't manage to stop in time and vanished themselves. Lou grabbed my arm and dragged me towards the stones, but apparently whatever it was had gone, as we ran straight between them onto the grass. With a sigh, she sat down. "Well," she said, "there they go."
I looked around with interest. It wasn't often I got to leave HQ except to go into various canon worlds, and I had no idea where I was. "Lou...?"
"Avebury," my partner said, anticipating my question. "England. I think the author had just been there when he wrote this the first time."
"Nice place," I commented. "Er... do we have to do anything with him?" I nodded in the direction of the one who'd stayed behind. After reacting with believable shock, he'd walked over to look at the stones and see if he could figure out what was going on. I got the impression, though, that he was used to this sort of thing.
"Waste of time," Lou said, standing up slowly. "Ow. No, he's not done anything, and he doesn't show up again. Besides, what would we call him?"
I looked up at the Words and frowned. Uncharacteristically, they were corrupted, static – well, mental static, I suppose, or some equivalent – shooting through them. The name of this character was completely illegible, although there seemed to be an A in it somewhere. "That's odd."
"I think I was partly right before," Lou said. "I think bits of the story have been deleted, and this version is reassembled from what's left. I know there were three different copies of the prologue... however, it might make finding the characters again rather difficult."
I nodded. If we didn't know what chapter was the next intact, how could we go there? "We could just go forward one chapter at a time and see how long it takes to find them," I suggested. Lou looked at me thoughtfully.
"That might work," she allowed. "I don't know, though. We might just end up in Canon Lothlórien instead."
"And that's a problem?" I shook my head. "Come on, we don't have any better ideas, do we?"
Lou shrugged. "I guess not. Come on, then." Pulling out the Remote Activator from a pocket that I was almost certain her elven outfit shouldn't have, she set it to Chapter One and opened the portal. "You first. It was your idea."
Taking a deep breath, I stepped through the blue doorway into a grey, misty realm. I waited for Lou to join me, and said, "Nothing."
She nodded, and then frowned, peering through the mist. "Not quite nothing, Nar," she said. "Don't you see?"
I blinked. "Well, no, there's the grey, but-"
"Not that," she interrupted. "Look." Reaching out, she slapped her hand against what I had taken to be another patch of empty mist. A dull thud echoed through the region. "See?"
"It's... a tree, is it?" I peered through the fog. Now that I knew what to look for, I could see... not shapes in the mist, exactly, but the suggestion of shapes. It was as if someone had taken a forest, added the grey, and then removed the trees, leaving only holes in the fog and a sort of feel in the air, of closeness when there was nothing actually around.
Lou nodded. "This is, or should be, the edge of Lórien. I assume it's because, while the chapter itself is lost, someone has enough of a memory of what was in it to impart this... impression, or whatever you want to call it. It might even be-" She cut herself off abruptly. "Well, no good staying around here. Come on." Briskly, she opened a portal and stepped through.
On the other side we found another ghost-forest. This time there was a hint of a large group in the vicinity, and a slope leading downwards. "I think it's that scene in the movie where Haldir points out Caras Galadhon," Lou said. "Nothing here, though. Let's go."
We passed through another misty realm, this one with a feel of very large trees, and several elves, before finally emerging into proper light again. We found ourselves standing on a balcony in the branches of a giant mallorn, and I looked over the barrier to see how far up we were. Big mistake.
While I was still cowering on the floor and whimpering, I heard Lou step up alongside me. "That's quite a drop," she said, and then crouched down. "Come on, Narto, it's not that bad. Haven't you been to Lórien before?"
"Yes," I mumbled, "but not... not up."
"Ah." She went silent for a moment, and then said, "I'm afraid most of the story takes place up here. Do you want to go down to the ground and wait for it to be over?"
I considered it, I really did. Eventually, however, duty won out over acrophobia, and I lifted my head. "Help me up?"
With a slight smile, Lou held out a hand for me. When I was on my feet, she glanced over the balcony again. "Should we move back from the edge?"
"I... yes, please." I'm ashamed to say I practically ran backwards to the wooden building that occupied most of the platform. "Where are they, anyway?"
"They're called Project Messiah," Lou supplied, "and they should be getting up here fairly soon... along with a 'Sue."
"You mean they weren't 'Sues themselves?"
She laughed shortly. "Well, you might say that. But this one – 'Anva', short for Anvanimë Hollë, if memory serves – is Legolas' sister, and acts like-"
"A fifteen-year-old human teenager?" I asked wearily. Lou nodded, seeming somewhat amused. "Great. Do we have to kill all of them?"
Lou winced. "I... don't think that would be a good idea."
"No?" It seemed like a perfectly good idea to me. "Why not?"
"It... you'll see when they get here." She shook her head, then glanced up. "Which should be about now."
They entered, and Anva led them through to a medium sized room near the back.
"This is my room," she said. "You can stay here too."
"Thank you," said David.
"Yeah, thanks heaps," I muttered. Lou shushed me.
"They're all non-canons, Nar. Be quiet." I nodded, chastened, and Lou pressed an ear against the door of the 'medium sized room' into which our quarry had gone. "Right. They're going to sit in there and tell some awful story about Legolas for a bit. Were you paying attention when they came through?"
I frowned. I had been, sort of, but wasn't sure what I was meant to have noticed. "Er..."
Lou sighed. "I was afraid of that." She thought for a moment. "There's a window. Come on, we'll go take a look at them."
I blinked, and as we walked around the side of the building I scanned the words. "Lou," I said, "I don't see any mention of a window..."
"It's not up there," she said, distractedly. "I remember it, is all. And this is really doing my head in," she muttered, apropos of nothing. "Here we are."
I peered in through the window at where the five were sitting in a circle. The elf-'Sue was running through her story, in horribly modern speech, and with blatant ignorance of the facts of Middle-earth life. "Leggie was so excited that he was being allowed to help with the hunt – him being only two hundred at the time – and got his best bow and everything. So he went out with daddy and a bunch of other fighter types – some of them were very cute – to hunt stag up in the north of Greenwood."
"Ignore her," Lou said. "Look at the Messiah crew."
I did so, peering at each one in turn. "That one – David," I corrected, checking the Words to find out. "He looks sort of like Agent Dafydd..."
"Yes, he would," Lou agreed, "but that's not what I meant."
I frowned, and looked again. Of the four, David was sitting facing me, while two of the others were side-on. The final girl, however, was facing directly away from me. All I could see was the back of her head, and her darkish blonde hair. I frowned again. "That's not a very 'Sueish colour," I muttered.
"Alice's hair?" Lou asked. At my nod, she smiled tiredly. "No, it isn't. It's fairly uncommon, though – strawberry blonde, yes?"
"About that," I agreed. "Now, where have I- oh." Involuntarily, I looked up at Lou's hair. It was longer while she was in elf-guise, but the colour hadn't changed. "That's a coincidence."
"It's more than that," Lou said. "Wait a moment and you'll see."
I admit that, by that time, I was starting to suspect, but it still came as a shock. "You’ll have to tell me later. Galadriel wants to see you. Now," the elf-Sue said, and the group stood up. The girl turned, and I saw her face. It was a very familiar face, for all I'd only been in DOGA a short time.
"Is that what's got you so worked up?" I asked. "Is this some sort of series, and you're an ex-Sue from another episode?"
"If only it were that simple," Lou replied, shaking her head. "She – Alice – isn't exactly me. Yet."
"Yet?" I asked. "You mean, you're from this story?" That would make sense – if we killed them off, would she vanish from existence? But, again, she shook her head.
"It's... complicated, Narto. I'd really rather not go into it."
I shook my head in despair. "Lou, if there's something I need to know-"
"There isn't," she snapped, "all right? Let's just get on with it."
I looked at her for a moment, and then nodded. "All right. How much more of this do we need to watch?"
Lou grimaced. "They go to see Galadriel, then go down to the Mirror that... tonight. There's also a couple of pointless interludes, but..."
"They're pointless, right." I sighed. "I don't suppose they breach Canon in this next meeting?"
"Other than with narcoleptic!Celeborn? No, I'm afraid not. We have to watch the Mirror scene."
I grimaced. "We should probably follow them for this bit, too." Getting a nod from Lou, I looked up at the Words.
Project Messiah followed Anva along a bewildering route, knowing that they could never return to their room without help. But that was all right, as all the elves were so friendly.
"Friendly, right," I muttered. "But it doesn't look like we'll be able to follow them on foot... portal?"
Lou nodded distractedly and pulled out the Remote Activator. "You might want to note down the charges for their journey before we go," she said, fiddling with the RA. I nodded and skimmed the Words.
"Annoying Legolas... overusing melodrama... pronouncing capital letters..."
"Is that a charge?" Lou asked, and I looked up to see that the portal was already open. "I mean, we can do it..."
"But it's not appropriate in LotR," I explained. "So yes, it's a charge."
"Right. Well, time's moving on." With that, she hopped through the portal, and I had to follow.
"I am Galadriel, the Lady of these woods. My husband, Celeborn, has left the room for a time. Like most Moriquendi, he grows tired more quickly than I."
I winced. "That's..."
"Narcoleptic!Celeborn, yes," Lou confirmed. "I think it stems from the slowness of his speech in the films."
I nodded thoughtfully. "Typical shoddy writing, that. I-" I paused, frowning at Galadriel. "Did she just say Nenya?"
"She did." Lou shook her head. "Forcing the Lady to speak openly of her ring... that's a charge, I'm sure of it."
"Undoubtedly," I muttered, scribbling it down. There was little else to do. The Messiah team, rather surprisingly, did not try to join the Fellowship, but instead chose to stick to their mission – tracking down the Jackson character they'd been after at the beginning. "At least they're dedicated," I noted to my partner.
"They're always that," she agreed. "It's a kind of lingering trait." I blinked. Somehow, I'd managed to half-forget the half-revelation Lou had dumped on me, and her comment brought it right back.
"Look, Lou," I said, trying to be reasonable, "if you are an ex-'Sue, I won't hold it against you. There's lots of Agents who are."
The girl rolled her eyes. "I told you, it's not that simple. I... look, can we do this later?"
I nodded grudgingly. "As soon as we finish the mission, then. As soon as."
Lou nodded, and glanced upwards. "Do we have time for that?" she asked, talking, it seemed, to the ceiling. She seemed to think she got an answer nonetheless, and nodded, looking back at me. "I'll explain it when we get back to our RC, then," she said.
"Okay. But until then, we've got a mission to complete."
Lou winced. "Oh, yes. On to the last chapter, then?"
I frowned. "Last chapter? Aren't there three more?"
"Mm, yes," Lou admitted, "but the next two are fairly short and pointless. The only real charge is altering Saruman's character, so I thought we'd skip them."
"Skipping sounds good," I agreed. "How much of the next chapter do we need to do?"
Lou frowned up at the Words. "I suppose... up until she tells David he's not allowed to look in the Mirror? That's pretty egregious, after all."
"It is that," I muttered, and nodded. "Portal?"
"Already on it," she replied, opening the blue doorway and stepping through ahead of me.
"Welcome, travellers. In my mirror you may see the past, the present, and all possible futures. However, there is little time. Only one of you may look in the water. Who shall it be? Choose wisely."
"Okay, it was a bit longer in my memory," Lou murmured, but I was too busy writing down a charge to reply. "I'll grab Anva, you read the charges."
David looked at the others, and then shrugged and stepped forward. Galadriel shot him a sharp glance, and said, "No. Not you. I see things in your future that you would not wish to know of. Choose another."
Louise stepped forward into the clearing. "I would look, gracious Lady," she said, bowing low. Everyone stared at her. Then David looked around at Alice.
"Alice? There's someone who looks like you there..."
"Oh dear," Lou murmured. "Were we really that bad? I'm sorry about this, Lady," she added to Galadriel.
The Lady of the Golden Wood looked at her thoughtfully. "I do not think you need to be," she said slowly. "I think perhaps I have met you before."
"Not I," Lou corrected, "but my... companions? Comrades? Yes. They have been through your Wood before."
Galadriel nodded. "And you are here to speak with these children?" she asked.
Lou shrugged. "Something like that," she said. "Come on, Gingernut, charges."
I stared at her. "Gingernut?" I repeated indignantly.
Lou nodded briskly. "It's fitting. Come on, Narto."
I glared at her for a moment, but turned back to the first page of my notepad with a sigh. "Er, are you going to restrain her?"
"Good point." She walked over to the Messiah group, who parted before her – wisely, in my opinion – and dragged Anvanimë Hollë out. "Get going, please," she said, looking at me.
"Right. Um." I blinked. "Anvanimë Hollë, as the sole 'native' OC in this story, you have been ordained the Originator of all UnCanon. I therefore charge you with the following: Employing strange plot devices to teleport to Middle-earth. Causing the Eldar to speak English. Making 'mallorn' a plural. Putting full-sized buildings in the mellyrn of Lórien. Making up ridiculous stories about Legolas. Mangling the Elvish languages. Making-"
"I didn't do any of that!" Anva exclaimed. "Why would I-?"
Lou released the girl for a moment and grabbed her own unstrung bow. You might think that's not much of a weapon, but it can still stun someone when you hit them with it, as Lou proceeded to demonstrate. She looked back at me. "Go on."
I coughed. "Yes. Making Legolas stupid, altering the Elven perception of time, and altering the character of the Lórien elves. Melodrama, annoying Legolas and pronouncing capital letters. Insulting Lord Celeborn, causing Galadriel to speak openly of her Ring, and altering the character of Saruman."
At my last sentence, Galadriel looked startled. "I knew there was something wrong when I said that," she whispered, apparently to herself. "Can it be...?"
I did my best to continue. "Altering the character of the Lady Galadriel, although she seems to have shaken it off rather easily. Overusing the Mirror of Galadriel. Destroying the eloquence of the Lady Galadriel. Altering the Canon events of the Lord of the Rings. I think that's it."
"You forgot the reason we're here," Lou pointed out. I sighed.
"All right, all right. You are also charged with 'severely compromising the size of Lothlórien'. Your penalty for all these crimes is... uh. Lou?"
Louise frowned. "Can we really kill her? I mean, she was annoying, but..."
"And there weren't many Canon alterations," I agreed. "Should we recruit her?"
"No, no." Lou shook her head. "Tell you what, let's take the other four home, then we can sort out Anva." I nodded, and she looked at Project Messiah. "Come on, ladies and gents, we're going to take a trip back to Earth."
David looked at her warily. "Who are you?" he asked. Lou rolled her eyes.
"We're the PPC, but you haven't heard of us, so that doesn't mean anything. We're the people who can take you home."
"What about Jackson?" he asked. "We have to capture him."
Lou groaned. "We forgot Al Jackson, Nar. How did we forget Al Jackson?" Without waiting for an answer, she went on. "The Lady has an important appointment coming up, so we need to get you out of here now. Come with us and we'll take you back to Avebury, picking up Jackson on the way. Agreed?"
David looked at the others, who shrugged in eerie unison. "All right, then," he said, finally, "we'll go. Where...?"
"He's in Isengard," I muttered to Lou, who nodded and opened a portal.
"You go first," she said, "I'll grab this lot and follow." I did as I was told, stepping through into a dark room where a fair-haired young man was lying on a bed. I glanced out of the window, confirming that I was high above the ground – the chapter we skipped had said Jackson ended up in a ' small room, high up in the tower of Orthanc' – and then had to jump and grab David to stop him attacking the sleeping Jackson.
Unfortunately for me, there were four of the Messiah crew against one of me, even if I was better trained than them. It wasn't until Lou arrived and said she'd shoot them if they didn't stop – quite a credible threat, as she'd managed to string her bow by that time – that they calmed down, by which time Jackson was waking up.
His eyes opened, and then narrowed as he saw the Messiah crew. "You," he snarled, and jumped up, lunging for the nearest person – Sarah, as it turned out. Fortunately, with great presence of mind, Lou opened another portal in front of him.
David stared at the blue door that his nemesis had gone through. "Where is he?" he asked, bewildered.
"Back in Avebury," Lou said. "I'd follow him if I were you, he's probably running already." The four didn't need telling twice, and it was only a few seconds before Lou and I were left alone with Anva, who was starting to regain her focus.
"So what are we going to do with her?" I asked. "I mean, there are lots of options, but-"
I stopped talking. This was mostly because there was no point in continuing the line of thought – Lou had resolved the issue by picking the elf girl up and throwing her straight out of the window. I managed to reach the ledge in time to see Anvanimë Hollë, limbs flailing, hit the rock of Orthanc and bounce to the ground. I winced. "Was that necessary?"
"It saved time," Lou said brusquely. "I'm fed up of this. Let's go home." She flicked open the portal and was through before I could even blink, let alone object.
Back in our Response Centre, I sat down on the chair. "So," I said, "you were going to tell me who you were."
"Yes," she said, through gritted teeth, from where she stood at the console, "I was. Only I expected this to have ended by now."
I didn't know what she was going on about, but it seemed I was at last going to get the explanation I wanted.