Title: PPC Mission: The End of Hope
Author: Sedri
Rating: M15 (mild)
Summary: Agents Sedri and Iza deal with a pathetic Mary Sue claiming to be Yvaine and Tristan's daughter.

DISCLAIMER: Stardust belongs to Neil Gaiman. The movie adapation is Matthew Vaughn's. The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. “untitled” is most definitely not mine; it belongs to x.Starlight.x.Moonshine.x

Agents Sedri and Iza are mine; fellow PPC agents, you are welcome to borrow them for cameos, but please involve me so I can keep them in character.

Mission: The End of Hope

“No, hold it up. UP. …Right, okay, try this; bend your right leg – no, dear, that’s your left – and keep your weight in that hip. Good. Now slowly shift onto your other leg, and swing your arms at the same – gently! – time, until you’ve reached your enemy. Right! Now, all you have to do is practice that move and- BLARGH!”

Agent Sedri, assassin, PPC operative and long-suffering weapons instructor, threw herself to the floor as her gleeful partner swung a sword around with consistently bad form, the blade cutting air, air, more air and completely missing the target dummy. It was lethally sharp, of course – this was the PPC; there was no such thing as a practice weapon. Sedri stayed down, rolling to shelter under a massive shield that had once belonged to a Narnian centaur.

“Iza?” she called out. “IZA!”

The whipping sounds slowed. “Hmm? What?”


Only when she heard the reassuring sound of a sword being sheathed (which was the only thing so far that Iza had been able to do right) did Sedri stand up, keeping a wary hand on the shield. They were in a practice room, one of many at the PPC and one of the few that had been consistently found. Though Sedri didn’t usually bother to leave her response centre, even she had to admit that #1830 didn’t have enough space to walk properly, let alone practise swordsmanship.

“All right,” she declared, wiping her brow; “that’s it. We’re stopping right now.”

Iza’s face fell until she looked positively stricken, gripping the scabbard of her lightweight weapon (an elvish blade from the Tolkienverse, stolen by Sedri on a mission some years ago) and turning big, pale eyes on her stubborn partner. “But…”

“No buts, Iza; you’re terrible.”

“I’m getting better!”

“Yes, and you’re still terrible. You’re more likely to kill me or yourself rather than anyone that might threaten us on a mission. You can handle the daggers well enough; stick to that.”

Iza pouted, but made no attempt to argue; that she had protested at all was unusual, and had her monitors from the Psych Department been there, they would have cheerfully declared it to be a sign of her personality developing beyond the featureless mould she had been written for. As it was, the two agents simply gathered their things and walked out the door.

Corridors in PPC headquarters were, as a rule, dull grey and all absolutely identical, save for the occasional flamethrower burns or interesting door plaque. Iza, trailing happily behind her partner, still wasn’t quite sure how it was that distracting oneself was the fastest way to get somewhere, but as long as it didn’t require a great deal of work on her part, she didn’t mind in the slightest. Picking a random object to stare at – Sedri’s leather belt – she squinted, trying to pinpoint exactly which continuum it was from by the detailed design etched into it, and had finally concluded that it was Rohirric, from the Tolkienverse, when a faint, almost pained electronic wail caught her attention, and she looked up to see Sedri opening their dented, worn-out door. The noise came from inside.


“All right, all right, we’re here! Shut up!”

The console, either from long experience with Sedri or simple common sense, did so. Sedri hit the acknowledgement button anyway, and began to read their mission assignment.

She growled.

Iza, in the midst of hanging up their weapons (in the right places this time, as she had been taught on pain of… well, pain), paused and turned around. “What is it? Something wrong?” she asked innocently.

Two somethings, Izzy; two missions for Gaiman’s Stardust – though they’re both movieverse, so we might as well call it Vaughn’s. Give me the details you stupid little...”

This last bit was directed at the console which, for some reason, was refusing to give any more details for the second mission until the first was completed. Sedri grumbled and returned to her first reading; “It’s called Untitled – very promising,” she snorted.

Meekly, Iza said, “I asked you not to call me that.”

“What? Oh, sorry; the nickname. Whatever. Are you planning to join me on this one or not?”

“Of course!” replied the former slasher, bouncing over stacks of books towards the console (and knocking a few down in the process, of course). “What’s this Sue like?”

“Typical whiny angster; she’s Yvaine and Tristan’s daughter, and moans that her mother’s beauty ruins any chance she has at a relationship – as ‘proven’ when her slimy boyfriend tries to feel up Yvaine at dinner.”

True to her badly-written nature, Iza’s logic caught up with her enthusiasm several seconds too late, and the result was one of her sudden, apparently random mood swings. Her brow furrowed, her eyes widened, and she carefully stepped back, trying to put at least two pieces of furniture between herself and her partner. “Stardust is your favourite world, isn’t it?” she squeaked, ducking behind an armchair.

“Yeah,” said Sedri dully as she wandered to a weapons rack, “but this is a standard Sue. There’s nothing unusual or offensive about her – except her existence, that is.” She glanced at her partner, who was climbing out of the chair. “Do you actually want to take the daggers, or just watch again?”

“I…” Iza faltered, then forcibly straightened, as though it would give her courage. “I’d like to try killing it this time.”

“Shouldn’t be hard; this one’s a classic wimp. I shouldn’t even have to hold her down.”

Iza flinched. “I’d rather you did, anyway.”

Sedri shrugged and strapped on her own canon-compliant weapons; a short sword, a dagger, and a small pouch of assorted poisons. “Mind getting the portal?”

Iza did so, beaming with pleasure every time a typed command actually did what was expected. “I’m getting good at this!” she declared.

“Yes you are, dear,” replied Sedri absently, packing a CAD and setting the disguise generator. “Ready?”

With delight and great flourish, Iza pressed the final button. The large archway set in their wall glowed blue, creating the usual stunning wall of light that both agents walked through without a second glance.

They emerged in a standard Undefined Setting, wearing extremely plain dresses that would lead everyone to assume that they were palace servants. Everything was grey and blurry, save for a pale and pathetic-looking girl who stood before them, wiping away a melodramatic tear. She was angsting, but thankfully this story was not in first-person point of view, so neither agent was assaulted by deafening narrative.

The criminal butchering started almost immediately:

Earlier this day she’d brought her boyfriend home to meet the ‘rents, and it was a disaster.

“Anachronistic phrasing,” Sedri muttered, opening her notebook.

It was unfair. Most girls at her school seemed to think she had the perfect life, simply because in their eyes she had

The “perfect” looks. First of all—they were not perfect.

“She’s missing a full stop, and that hyphen is wrong,” said Iza, sitting cross-legged on the Undefined Floor. “And she does look perfect… doesn’t she?”

“By most modern standards, yes. Hang on, though – she’s just referred to ‘screenplay stars’. Sorry, dearie, but this is Stormhold. At least… I think it is. Even if it’s not, this is rather early for films, and actors didn’t become celebrities until the late thirties or forties-“

Sedri ended her grumbling as yet another charge-worthy crime was committed:

She had bodyguards around her constantly and Hope could not think of one room in their house that her father had not concealed at least one weapon because according to him “they’d eat her heart out.” Well… it was true but Hope could not see the sense in his over protective ways.

Sedri threw up her arms in frustration as a number of armed men materialised around Hope, still in the middle of nowhere. “Tristan’s not that paranoid and you’re not actually a star even though the damn movieverse- They live in a palace, you little… bleh.” With a sad sigh for her notebook, torn and illegible from the rush of scrawls, Sedri said, “You know, Iza, let’s just forget writing it down; we’ll remember it, anyway…”

Trailing off, Sedri glanced at her partner, who was still sitting and placidly braiding the frayed threads of her dress. “You will remember all this in ten minutes, won’t you?”

“Probably,” Iza replied lightly. Sedri sighed.

“Try to pay attention, will you?”

“Hmm? To wha- Oh! The mission!”

Rolling her eyes, Sedri resigned herself to doing this one alone – which she didn’t really mind. Stardust was dear to her, and though Hope wasn’t worth her anger, the upcoming dinner scene promised to be bad.

Iza stood up, suddenly acting like an adult again. She dusted off her hands and said, “Missing apostrophe, and that comma in the last line should’ve been a semi-colon.”

Nodding, Sedri uncurled her hands as they automatically moved towards her notebook. “Brace yourself for a scene change. We’re also switching to Yvaine’s point of view, though it’s still third person.”

“Will it hurt?”

“Not likely. Hang on…”

A room materialised around them; or, to be more precise, attempted to materialise around them. There was next to no description at all, save that they were having dinner in the dining room – not a dining room, as one would expect in a palace that size, but the dining room. There was a door nearby, leading to a bathroom, and despite canon trying very, very hard to create the sort of elegant, stately room that kings and queens would usually dine in, the story’s blatant disregard for period settings was causing a great deal of modern furniture to appear; the table was small and round, typical for a the household of a middle-class western Real World family. Portraits and candelabras were hazy and the size of the room changed constantly as canon and Words battled for dominance.

The figures at the table didn’t notice. Although Hope had narrated that she brought her boyfriend to have dinner with her parents, only she, Yvaine and the boyfriend were ever actually mentioned. Tristan, therefore, was a still and silent figure occupying a fourth chair, as translucent as a ghost and completely oblivious to the scene. Sedri softened as she watched the king, a sad little smile tugging at her lips.

Iza saw this, and her eyes narrowed, but then the chapter’s very first line caught her attention and she watched Yvaine as:

An audible wince escaped her lips

Wince: Verb,” she quoted; “‘give a slight unintentional grimace or flinch due to pain or distress’. It’s not a sound or a breath of air, and cannot ‘escape’ someone’s lips.”

Sedri blinked, turning swiftly away from Tristan and back to his wife, too late; however the Word World had tried to pull that one off, she’d missed it. Scowling, she scolded herself and thanked Iza with a nod.

They both watched, then, as Hope’s boyfriend Damian put his hand on Yvaine’s exposed thigh. Both glared. “Yvaine would not put up with that,” Sedri growled, watching as the queen gave a false smile and lied to her daughter so that poor, poor Hope could be spared the humiliation of knowing that yet another of her “guy friends” was lusting after her mother. “Damn – I forgot the CAD.”

So she let it rest there, making her feel akward and every second making Damian feel bolder.

“Misspelling,” Iza reported. “Wouldn’t her husband be angry about this?”

“He’s not even mentioned in this scene,” seethed her partner. “How can he be expected to be noble and chivalrous and sweet and Tristan-y if she won’t even ACKNOWLEDGE him?”

Blink. Blink. Big smile. “Aw, Sedri! I didn’t know you had a lust object!”

Sedri turned very red. “I do not.”

Iza giggled.

“I do not! I… admire him. I have a lot of favourites – you know that. Éowyn, B’Elanna, Q, Dumbledore, Frodo, Jack…”

“But I’ve never seen you stare at them before,” replied Iza.

Scowling, Sedri replied, “How many missions have we had together? Hmm? I love Tristan and Yvaine as a couple. I don’t lust.”

“Everyone lusts.”

“I DON’T!”

“Sure you-”

“Another charge!” declared Sedri, keeping her back to Iza. “There’s no way Damian could put his hand on her thigh – or ‘higher’, for that matter – because all women in this continuum wear full-length skirts. All. Even Una’s slave dress came down to her ankles. And…” her eyes glazed over as she read further on through the Words, flatly ignoring Iza’s gleeful grin. “Yes, I was right; later on she says Yvaine is wearing a blouse.”

While Iza spent the next few minutes wearing the closest expression she had to a smirk, Sedri muttered things like “missing comma” and “that’s two uses of ‘laugh’ – redundant and ungrammatical…” The oblivious Yvaine held up a ridiculous charade while all the time narrating that the relationship was doomed anyway. Why she didn’t assert herself against the boy and try to comfort her daughter with honesty, as the real Yvaine would, could only be ascribed to Hope’s need for her suffering to be validated.

Then Damian moved his hand higher again and a flustered Yvaine hurried out of the room, saying, "Er…uh…I… have to pee.”

Excuse me?” Sedri stared. “That’s a completely anachronistic speech pattern. She’s the Queen of Stormhold, and a star besides. Even if movie-Yvaine had a more contemporary style, she was not that blatant. There are some things you just don’t say aloud. She’d simply excuse herself.”

Iza just shrugged, nervously fiddling with her dagger as the end of the chapter, and all that had been written of the story, approached.

The bathroom door was closed, and the two agents, disguised as servants, could not see inside, but the Words informed them that Yvaine was angrily trying to work out why the “high school boy” (“Charge!” piped up Iza; “No one uses that phrase in this time period! There are no high schools here!”) was doing this, and not-so-accidentally glorifying the Sue in the process:

Her daughter was not unworthy in any way of their attentions, or else they wouldn’t date her in the first place. Nothing about Yvaine was extrodinarily more beautiful than Hope, nor was she any more charming or outgoing.

“Bleh. This is boring. At least she admits that Yvaine and Tristan are hopelessly in love. Almost there, Iza; we’ll get them in the suspended nothingness after the narrative ends, when the guards won’t be animate enough to stop us.”

Iza gripped the blade and nodded tightly.

Yvaine returned to the table, paused a moment, and then sent Damian home – “before your parents begin to worry.”

“Come on, Izzy – we’ll get him as he goes out the door that has just conveniently appeared.”

“Don’t call me that,” Iza muttered under her breath, following her partner outside.

As the chapter ended and there were no more new Words to dictate (or mutilate) canon, activity around them slowed to an undefined halt. Damian walked out of the door, into an empty corridor with no guards, decorations, or any definition at all beyond the door back to the dining room – and even that couldn’t decide if it wanted to be ornate or a simple wooden hollow-core. Once through, the character continued to walk with a blank expression and no obvious destination. Sedri walked up behind him and simply pounced.

Cry. Crash. Grunt. Wince. Shriek. Growl. Rip.

Sedri sat back, pleased; Damian, sporting a large bruise on his forehead, was bound hand and foot and lying on the floor, gagged by the apron of Sedri’s servant dress. “Ready, Iza?”

The smaller girl pulled her dagger from its sheath, but the silver blade trembled. “I… I think you should-“

“Oh, I’ll charge him, don’t worry. Damian!” she snapped, kicking him. “You are charged with being a Mary-Sue’s boyfriend and inappropriate behaviour towards the Queen of Stormhold. It’s not much of a list, but you’re a minion of the Sue and we don’t need a charge list for every bit character. Therefore, you are sentenced to-”

“Wait!” cried Iza, lip trembling as she clasped the small weapon. “Wait, Sedri. I…” Closing her eyes and letting out a deep breath, Iza said, “I can’t do this.”

The older agent groaned, leaning back until she lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling. “You haven’t even tried. Why do you think we’re going for the bit first?”

I was a bit character! Can’t we recruit him?”

“You need the practice. Besides, not everyone’s suitable for recruitment, and this boy’s nothing but a vacant sack of hormones – look, he’s not even fighting. I read your story; you, at least had enough dialogue to be a character rather than a tool. He wouldn’t make it. He’s not a real person, Iza.”

“I know, but…”

“Sues aren’t real people, either. You were rescued because you had potential. Kill him, Iza.”

Damian barely reacted, just looking from one agent to another, and his gaze was rather low for their faces. Iza hugged herself, almost oblivious to the knife in her hand. “I don’t… I don’t think I-”

“Oh, fine.”

With one swift, unbroken move, Sedri pulled out her dagger and slashed it across Damian’s neck. “Watch, Iza,” she ordered.

Iza did so, trying to be clinical about the sight of so much blood spilling onto the floor. Damian thrashed a little, and Iza tore her eyes away from his red neck to his eyes; they were open and watching, but as he died, there was none of that poetic “life draining from his eyes” stuff that she had read about; his eyes had always been blank, empty, and nothing changed as he stilled – they remained blank, open to the sky. He simply stopped moving.

Sedri, now standing, wiped her blade on Damian’s sleeve and smiled kindly. “You see? He’s not real – he never was. This isn’t murder. Do you think you can do the Sue now?”

Pale, Iza shook her head. “It’s not that,” she said. “It’s the blood. I hate blood.”

“Your body is full of it,” quipped her partner, but she paused to consider this. “Well, why not a poison, then? Can you handle dropping something in her tea?”

Iza was quiet for a long moment, biting her lip and sheathing the dagger. “I think so.”

Pleased, Sedri nodded and handed over her bulky pouch. While Iza searched through it for something appropriate to the setting, Sedri took the remote activator from her shoulder bag and set it on the floor, creating a portal directly under Damian’s body. The floor briefly glowed blue, Damian fell through it, and she turned it off.

“Where did you send him?” asked Iza, pulling out a bottle of small, shiny red berries.

“Into mid-air about fifty metres east of the royal tower,” she replied happily. “His body will be splattered all over the mountainside by now. Are those elderberries?” Iza nodded. “You do know they take several hours to kill, right? And that she has to eat a lot of them?”

Iza faltered, but thought for a moment. “That won’t really be hard, but I can’t let Yvaine eat any. Should we neuralyse her first?”

“Yes; come on – they’re still eating dinner.”

The two ‘servants’ walked back through the lone door and into the dining room without trouble. Yvaine, Hope, and the flickering Tristan were all still there, eating. It was doubtful that the amount of food on their plates had changed much. Iza, veiled by both her disguise and canon, lifted Damian’s soup bowl and poured the bottle of berries into it. Then, with shaking hands not at all appropriate for a servant of the royal family, she took away Hope’s own bowl and replaced it as though it were the next course. The Sue, still looking miserable, gave her a beautifully sad smile and quietly said, “Thanks.”

Iza flinched and turned away. Sedri, meanwhile, had tapped Yvaine on the shoulder and curtsied, falling nicely into her role and saying, “Your Majesties, a messenger has just arrived who requires your presence in another room. You have no daughter named Hope, there are no high schools in your kingdom and no teenage boys have ever tried to feel up the queen. Say cheese.”

The neuralyser flashed. His presence at the table confirmed by Sedri’s words, Tristan solidified into a proper human being and stood up with his wife, both of them walking away from the Sue without a second glance, save to politely thank their servant.

Hope watched them go with more tears in her eyes, as though devastated by the unfairness of the world.

“Sad, isn’t it?” Sedri said lightly, looking at Iza. “Even parents don’t care about their children anymore. Our poor princess! First she’s cursed to have such a lovely mother, and then ignored by everyone…” The agent gave a melodramatic sigh.

Silence. Glancing out of a half-closed eye, Sedri kicked her partner.

“Wha-? Oh! Yeah, I… I find that food is a great comfort. My only comfort,” she added lamely.

Hope sighed and continued to eat her berry-filled soup. The agents walked away. “Now what?” whispered Iza.

“We wait until she’s eaten them all, charge her, then portal ahead a few hours to after the poison has taken effect.”

The waiting seemed to take forever; Hope paused between every bite to wipe away more tears and sigh, oblivious to everything but the miseries of her own life. The endless scraping of her spoon around the ceramic bowl was dreadful, and both agents covered their ears, the sound slowly driving them mad. Iza was pale, almost clammy, repeatedly glancing at Hope only to turn sharply away again. Sedri tolerated this with an ever-shortening temper until, at last, Hope stood up.

At the sound of wooden legs scraping across the floor, Iza stiffened, but she walked out steadily with Sedri, pausing at the table to make sure the bowl was empty. It was.

Sedri, meanwhile, had performed her usual capture-and-concuss duty with a minimum of sound or trouble, mainly due to the fact that Hope didn’t even think to call for help when she was shoved back into the chair and bound to it with something flat, grey, and very sticky. “I love this stuff,” murmured Sedri. “Right, done. You want to charge her, Iza?”

Nodding slowly, Iza stood directly in front of the Sue. “Hope,” she said quietly, “you’re charged with creating a high school in Stormhold, multiple counts of bad grammar and spelling, punctuation abuse, causing a wince to ‘escape’ Yvaine’s lips, causing personality alterations in Yvaine and possibly Tristan, using anachr… an – anachronistic phrases, changing the style of clothes worn in Stormhold, and being a Mary-“

“Hang on; you’ve missed some,” Sedri pointed out, sitting on the table and propping her boots up on Hope’s lap. “Hope, you are also charged with having a sought-after heart even though there’s no evidence whatsoever that the children of stars have immortality-endowing hearts themselves, mangling geography by an inexcusable lack of definition, causing Tristan to be obsessive and paranoid, ignoring Tristan-“

“Umm,” interrupted Iza, “can we really charge her for that?”

Sedri shrugged humourlessly. “Subjective charge. For all that, for neglecting to even give your story a real title and a total disrespect for the rank, authority, and bold character of Queen Yvaine, you are sentenced to death. Any last words?”

Iza blinked. “They get last words?”

“Supposedly. Anything to say, Hope?”

The Sue moved her huge, tear-filled eyes between the agents, looking as sorry and pitiful as a soaked puppy. Iza flinched. “It’s just not fair,” she wept. “My mother has everything and everyone always compares me to her and I just can’t compete…”

“Well, you’re right about that,” Sedri grinned. “Any sarcastic comments you’d like to make, Iza?”

The younger agent shook her head. “I want to go. Please.”

“All right,” shrugged her partner, pulling out the remote activator. “Do you want to do it?”

Iza, whose shaking hands were wrapped tightly in her sleeves, shook her head.

They stepped through yet another door of faint blue light, finding themselves in a very stable, very beautiful room ornately decorated with the same fine gold metalwork that had been prevalent throughout the Stardust movie. It was a large room, with a long table able to seat at least fifty. Hope still sat in the chair, but she was still now, her eyes closed, sweat drying on her delicate brow and vomit spattered across the front of her dress.

The smell was terrible; Iza had dumped Sedri’s entire supply of elderberries into the soup and Hope’s body had obviously done its best to get rid of them – to no avail. Much as Sedri might have enjoyed watching her pant and writhe in the chair, one glance at Iza’s face was enough to silence any mention of regrets. The former slash agent stayed far away from the body, staring at it and murmuring, “I killed her. I killed her…”

Fleetingly, Sedri wondered if an agent recruited from badfic could ever retire into a normal life, whether in the Real World or a random continuum. Then she shook her head; it simply wouldn’t happen. Even if the Sunflower Official gave up trying to turn her into an assassin, she would just be sent back to Bad Slash. Which might not be bad for her, conceded Sedri, as Iza seemed to love her old job, but the chance of talking the S.O. into letting anyone escape his fronds – anyone not wielding a flamethrower, that is – was practically nil.

With brisk efficiency, Sedri opened another portal to mid-air over mountaintop and threw the Sue into it. The vomit was something of a problem, as it was partially composed of elderberries from another multiverse and would not vanish with the Sue’s death, but as it was now a real palace with real servants, Sedri just summoned them and made up some sort of lie that involved a lot of pointing and sympathetic looks in Iza’s general direction.

Back in the response centre, Iza went straight to their tiny kitchen, taking a thermos of her favourite hot chocolate out of the cupboard before stiffening and regarding the comfort food with great suspicion. While Sedri filed the details of their mission into the computer and began to read the next report, Iza went into her room to fetch a thick red jumper; a soft, cosy thing from her original story that she’d rescued before being recruited. It always made her feel safe and happy and-


Sedri’s voice, from the next room, was strained and painfully short of breath.

“Iza, get back in here. We’ve got to kill this one right now.”

Date: 2008-07-23 10:00 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] lady-rilwen.livejournal.com
Poor Iza. I find myself pitying her rather a lot.

Trailing off, Sedri at her partner You missed a word there. ;)



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