Title: PPC Mission: Tom Paris is NOT a Wimp
Author: Sedri
Rating: R for violence
Summary: Agents Sedri and Iza are sent into a Star Trek: Voyager bad slash Stu-fic. Behold the terrible mischaracterisation and astoundingly low level of technology. Excessive consumption of Bleeprin is advised.


Note: This mission has been edited to remove some of the more graphic details of the assassination.

DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, in all its various forms, is not mine. It’s Roddenberry’s. The PPC is not mine – it belongs to Jay and Acacia. The fanfic Prism of Time isn’t mine either, and I don’t want it.

Agents Sedri and Iza, on the other hand, are mine.

Many, many thanks to Trojie and Pads for being my beta-readers and for their cameo appearances, and to Leto Haven for being my Permission Giver.



Response Centre #1830
Agents Sedri and Iza


Mission: Tom Paris is NOT a Wimp


One of the strangest things known about PPC Headquarters (for there are a great many things as yet unknown, even by its most experienced staff) is that it has no outside. While this causes little or no trouble for those agents already working in the tiny rooms where they are likely to spend the rest of their natural lives, it creates a reasonably tough problem for newcomers who haven’t yet realised that the courtesy maps on every second (or possibly seventh) corner are absolutely useless, as HQ has no outer walls, nor definite inner walls from which to orient itself or its maps.

It was for this reason that recently-recruited Agent Iza, despite studying the map before her for almost twenty minutes, was completely and utterly lost.

Scratching her head in an absent-minded fashion, Iza suddenly stopped and stared at her hand, turning it over as if she’d never seen it before, then chuckled lightly and resumed scratching. There was a bag over her shoulder and in her other hand she held a strange sheet of paper – a futuristic-looking, plastic-like printout – with a large amount of information that she didn’t care to read just now. She checked a number for the sixth time, then ran a finger over the map’s tiny writing.

“Aha!” she declared, jabbing the map. “Found you! Now if I could just…”

But then she stopped, blinking in surprise. The pad of her finger had left a slight dent in the map, which had become a vaguely circular patch of pure white, and the little red lines showing walls and doors were casually re-arranging themselves around it.

Iza blinked, looked at her finger, then poked it again.

Another white spot, another swirl of red lines.

She grinned.

Some time later, another black-clad agent and a dog rounded the corner to see a grinning, somewhat scruffy-looking girl with a ridged nose – Bajoran, the agent thought – bouncing up and down as she poked the map over and over again. “Got you! Hah! And you! You! And you! And you and you and you! HAHA!”

Agent Trojanhorse, a long-standing and highly experienced member of the PPC, was not the least bit fazed. She looked at the dog, who stared back levelly, drooling, and declared, “You’re lost.”

Iza turned around, head tilted almost childishly to one side as she smiled widely at the other woman. “Yes!” she said brightly, offering the plastic ‘paper’ like a handshake. “I’m Iza. I need to get to room eighteen-thirty. Do you know where it is? Can you show me? Please? Please please please please?”

Agent Trojie looked at the paper, not actually reading anything. “’Course I can. This way,” she said, and, grabbing Iza by the elbow, started to walk in a random direction. Iza squirmed a bit and Trojie saw she was looking rather nervously at the rather large black dog. “Don’t mind Pads; she won’t bite. Watch out for drool, though.”

Pads made a growl that dissolved into coughs and nudged Trojie with her nose. Trojie held onto the newbie and said, “I’m Agent Trojanhorse. Tell me about yourself. In detail. As fast as you can.” She watched Iza. “…Well? You’re not human; you’re from the Star Trek continuum. Were you in the university or a fanfic?”

“Don’t you need to think about where you’re going?” Iza asked, wide-eyed as she ducked a Random Flying Object. “They – the agents who rescued me – they said it’s hard to find your way around Headquarters if you aren’t concentrat-”

“They lied,” shrugged Trojie, keeping her eyes on the girl. “Probably thought it was a great laugh. Or they’re insane. So you were a character?” Iza nodded cheerfully. “Sue or bit?”

“Bit? But you said your dog-? Oh!” Iza’s eyes lit up, and Trojie struggled not to roll hers. “Oh yes, I was a bit character. My author didn’t give me more than a few lines – I was just there to help her Mary Sue play matchmaker for Julian and Garak. Wasn’t that mean? I mean, all she did was go on and on about what I looked like and how her avatar was prettier, but she never said anything about me and now that I’ve been pulled out I’m a blank… a blank…” She shook her head fiercely, briefly angry. “A blank slate!” She nodded firmly. Then, much more calmly, she added, “Doctor Freedenberg said that I might have memory problems until my real character develops a bit.”

Trojie nodded; she’d heard of recruits like this. “So you’ve got no personality at all?” she clarified. “You’re deciding what kind of person you’ll be as you go along?”

“More like seeing what happens to me,” Iza replied glumly. “The Doctor tried to get me a few months of rest on Vulcan, but the bosses said that if I could work I had to. Bad Slash is low on active agents, apparently.”

“You’re in the Bad Slash Department?” asked Trojie, glancing at the printout and narrowly avoiding another agent as they walked blindly through the corridors; Pads, lagging behind, seemed to have no such trouble. “Says here your partner is Agent Sedri, and she’s a ‘Sue killer.”

Iza shrugged tiredly. “I don’t know; they just said something about balance and experience and- oh!” Suddenly her exhausting perkiness returned. “I forgot! There’s a mission! A bad slash story that’s so out of character that they suspect a replacement Stu, and there’s another Stu that has to die anyway, and since I come from Star Trek they’ve sent me to help her! Isn’t that great? I can’t wait; I’ll bet she’s a lovely person, don’t you think?”

Pads snorted (then coughed).

Trojie was about to reply, about to say that any experienced agent was unlikely to be particularly nice, let alone to someone this cheerful, when she found that they had arrived at Response Centre #1830. To be quite exact, they both walked face-first into the door.

“Ah,” said Trojie, unfazed. “Here you are.”

She knocked loudly, ignored the muffled, angry sounds from within, and opened the door. Iza hesitantly peeked through, and-

CRASH.

Something smashed into the wall beside her head, splintering into a thousand ceramic fragments and a great deal of dust. Iza jerked back and turned towards Trojie, but her guide, and the dog, were gone.

“You could’ve waited,” she complained loudly.

Then, bracing herself – for there was really nothing else to do – she knocked gently and called out, “Are you Agent Sedri?”

The door swung further open, and the woman who answered it was… not that impressive. Round-faced with curly brown hair, she was sturdily built and could probably have broken all of Iza’s thin bones without much effort. She was also exhausted; there were dark circles under her eyes and her hair was pillow-matted. “If you’re my new partner, I’m ripping out the console speakers.”

“Erm…”

Taking that as a yes, Sedri groaned and stepped back to let Iza through. She snatched up a screwdriver and stalked towards the large metal console that dominated the far side of the room.

Iza cautiously stepped in, closing the door behind her.

It was a nice room, or at least as nice as any room can be when small and crammed to the utter limit. There were two comfortable chairs squashed up near the heater, a large table covered with bottled liquids and powders and techno-gadgets from at least five continua Iza recognised, a fridge and freezer packed under a tiny kitchen bench stacked with food and crockery, four or five tall bookshelves, several cabinets, and two locked, old-fashioned chests. There were thick, colourful rugs covering what little floor could be seen between boxes, all of it mismatched and looking suspiciously like something out of the Weasley family’s Burrow. The remaining wall space was covered in weapons of all kinds, arranged more like an armoury than a display, and three doors, of which the central one was half-open and leading to what was clearly a washroom.

What struck Iza first, however, was the amount of stuff that managed to survive there. What couldn’t fit into shelves or cabinets simply found a place elsewhere, and every available surface was covered in books, papers, folders, pens, empty bags, spare throw rugs, coats, shoes, deadly weapons and a variety of other knicknacks that were still, somehow, rather neat and tidy; everything was in its place. Her single knapsack of belongings seemed pathetic in comparison.

Wow…” she said, looking around. “How long have you lived here?”

“Don’t know,” Sedri answered dully, crawling out from under the console and triumphantly throwing down a tangle of wires. “Don’t remember.” She gave a long sigh and tossed her screwdriver into an open toolbox on the floor. “Look, Izi… Iza?”

Her partner nodded.

“Iza. I’m going to sleep. That’s your room,” she said, pointing to the door in the left wall. “Go settle in, unpack, whatever. I don’t care. Just take your time about it. I’ll get up when I get up.” Then, looking a little sorry, she added, “I’m nicer when I’m awake.”

Iza nodded and offered her a bright smile, but either Sedri was too sleepy to read her expression properly or just found the smile profoundly unsettling. In any case, all she did was nod and stumble off to her room, the door on the right, and shut herself in. Iza only had a brief glimpse of another overstuffed, comfortable-looking room before finding herself all alone in her new response centre.



Hours later (presumably; timekeeping in Headquarters was about as accurate as its mapping), Iza had remade the bare bed with her own white and blue sheets, replaced the hard pillow with a fluffy one, emptied her bag, spread her few belongings out across the long, empty shelves Sedri’s last partner had neglected to dust, explored the washroom, changed her clothes, and even caught a little sleep herself when there was a loud thunk in the main room.

She peeked out. Sedri, hair still matted but fresh-faced, was sitting on the table and swinging her legs, flipping through a massive book. Without looking up she asked, “Ready to work?”

Iza, with a cheeriness that shouldn’t have been possible after taking on one bad slash mission for the PPC, let alone three, grinned as she bounced towards the console. She’d read the mission details before arriving, but repeated them now for her new friend in a fashion that some would consider suicidal: “Star Trek continuum!” she announced. “Voyager. First person narrative. Bad slash, Tom Paris and Lieutenant Ayala, minor character – he doesn’t have a canonical first name, but here he’s called “Gregor”, which isn’t unlikely, so it can’t be a charge. Highly graphic content in the later chapters, major character disruptions, possible replacement Stu. Also two minor OCs, suspected Stu and Sue. Some technological errors.”

“First person – we’ll need a crash dummy,” mused Sedri, sliding off the table and making her way to a cabinet. “I’ve never done slash,” she said over her shoulder, taking out a funny-looking yellow cube. “At least, nothing that couldn’t be cured by killing a ‘Sue. Did you bring whatever it is you need for the exorcism?”

The equipment in question constituted half the contents of Iza’s knapsack. She smiled cheerfully, nodding. “Yep! Bell and candles and duct tape and a neuralyser and pencil and paper and – do you have a CAD? Yes, I see it, you do – I just need a canon source! You have one, right?”

“Mm? Canon source?” Sedri’s brow furrowed. “I’ve been in the DMS too long. Definition, please.”

With total calm and patience, Iza asked, “Do you have a book or recording of Star Trek canon?”

“DVD box sets – in there,” said her (temporary) partner with a lazy point towards one cabinet. As Iza bounced over (knocking down a chair and several neat stacks of paper in the process), Sedri trudged over to the console and took a closer look at the report. “Grab season four,” she advised. “It’s not defined, but that looks to be the only year in which this thing could actually be set.”

“They’re hard!” squealed Iza, snatching the box. “Hard! Really hard boxes, and- Oooo, good protection. These’ll last a long time!”

Slowly, Sedri asked, “What do you mean, ‘last’?”

“Oh, I broke a disc last time because it was only cased in thin plastic,” the girl said airily, missing the look of outrage on her partner’s face. “Oooo, you have so many! And all of Deep Space Nine! When we get back we should watch them!” cried Iza, completely missing the fact that there was no television in the room, nor any chance of time to use it if there had been.

Sedri ignored her and began punching commands into the console. “We’ll be generic Starfleet officers, of course,” she said dully. “Ensigns, I think, though it doesn’t matter as long as the canons can’t see us-“

Disguises!” shrieked Iza. “I’ve never been disguised! Ever! Oh, this’ll be fun, this’ll be- Oof…”

She had tripped over Sedri’s tool box. With the sort of worn-out sigh one would use when dealing with a toddler (and really, in Sedri’s opinion, Iza wasn’t very far off), the older agent leaned over her and asked, “You okay?”

“Fine!”

Effortlessly hauling the smaller girl to her feet, Sedri said, “I’m setting the portal to drop us in at the author’s opening notes; the crash dummy has to be ready to embody the first-person narrative as soon as it starts.”

“What happens if it isn’t?”

“I don’t want to know. Ready?”

Iza nodded, watching eagerly as Sedri activated the tall archway beside their console, set the disguise generator, slung her own bag of supplies onto her shoulder and then, together, the agents stepped through.

They emerged in auditory hell.

I SWORE I’D NEVER WRITE THIS. I’VE TOO MANY OTHER FANDOMS THAT ARE DEMANDING MY TIME BUT SOMETHING JUST ROSE UP AND GRABBED MY HAND, MAKING ME WRITE ABOU-

“SHUT IT!” Sedri bellowed. It did no good, of course, for they were currently standing in the formless black void of the as-yet-unwritten badfic, and the voice wasn’t coming from any person, but thundering through the agents’ heads. Iza, hands clamped over her ears, had dropped to her knees and was screaming what sounded like a Bajoran prayer.

The pain was mercifully short. A title sequence appeared, followed by the author’s name, in huge white letters that filled the void. As they faded away, Sedri scrambled to yank the cord hanging from the yellow cube she’d been so frantically clinging to.

It fell from her hand, inflating until it had taken the shape of a generic humanoid with a plastic seam running down the centre of its canary-yellow face. It had no features and no clothes, and across the middle of its chest were stamped the red words: EXTREMELY FRAGILE.

Judging by the foam that peeked out of little tears at its various joints, previous agents had not paid much attention to that warning. It began to talk.

I have always prided myself on my fairness. When I'm wrong, I say so. Apologize and move on. So why have I held on to this ... hatred of our pilot for all these years? He's a prison slut, sarcastic, devil-may-care, and hazardous to the Maquis health and a traitor.

Iza’s brow furrowed. “What’s happening? That sounds like the narration. I thought it was supposed to become the character.”

Sedri frowned, glaring at the featureless dummy. She looked up to the blackness that still surrounded them, where the Words of the story were streaming across the ‘walls’ slowly enough to be read by any agent who cared to. “It is, but the actual scene hasn’t started yet. This is just the introduction. Once there’s a setting, he’ll only speak the actual dialogue. Should be coming up soon.”

Gods, why did it take Geron to show me the person behind the brash mask?

“Ah – Iza? You’re the expert; I haven’t memorised Voyager’s crew roster. Who’s Geron?”

“He’s one of the original characters,” said Iza absently. “The intelligence report suggests he’s a Gary Stu.”

“Charming. That him?”

As the first descriptive Words scrolled across the sky, the black void lightened until they could clearly see a standard starship Voyager corridor through what looked like (and the Words confirmed to be) the double-doors of the holodeck. A grey, undefined figure was walking through them, and the crash dummy, suddenly animate and wearing a uniform, joined him.

Iza, still sitting on the floor, smiled as the scene formed around them. It was a pastorally beautiful landscape, the buildings a blend of at least four different Federation cultures, with enough flowers and peaceful wild animals to one think they were living in a Disney film.

It was all a holodeck program, of course, but certainly a nice one. Sedri stretched and breathed deeply, enjoying the illusion of being outside, even if they did have to crawl behind bushes to avoid being seen by the original character. She then noticed, with approval, that the disguise generator had not broken down again; she was wearing a blue-shouldered Starfleet uniform. Her hair had been smoothed back and tied out of the way, as per regulations, and Iza, she noticed, was wearing the sort of silver earring that all (well, most) canonical Bajorans had. Without her scruffy PPC uniform and stringy, tangled hair, the slasher looked almost elegant.

“Oooo! Pretty! Look at me! And my earring! It’s round and jangly and tinkles!” she squealed, ruining any image of maturity.

“I like Bajoran earrings,” conceded Sedri. “Didn’t you have one in your original fic?”

“No, because my Author just gave me a really dumb family name that wasn’t at all Bajoran, so the earring turned out pink and glittery. Now what?”

Sedri looked back up, her eyes glazing as she saw past the blue sky and to the Words that still scrolled steadily along. “They wander around for four hours before saying anything, or even defining who the narrator is – no, scratch that. They don’t say it’s Ayala until halfway through the next long scene. Anyway, we should probably portal ahead to the dialogue.”

“Sure! On to work! Hi-Ho! Hi-Ho! It’s off to work we-”

What did your last partners do to you?”

Iza looked innocently confused. Sedri sighed and fished out the portal’s remote activator, which created an oblong doorway in mid-air. The agents stepped through, emerging in what could have been exactly the same place, save that the dummy and Geron – who had since been described as young (and, at the sight of a particularly beautiful bird, “crying and smiling at the same time”); while it wasn’t much, it was enough for basic features to manifest. He now appeared to be a generic human crewman, wide-eyed and innocent, no more than twenty despite the near impossibility of anyone that young being an officer on Voyager.

“He’s supposed to have been a Maquis,” Iza added when Sedri had voiced this complaint. “They could’ve had people of all ages. You’d expect him to be tougher, though.”

Reluctantly, Sedri scratched the charge off her notepad.

The crash dummy was speaking again, just the dialogue now, and with a distinctly male voice. "How very sad, Geron. Who helped you create this lovely world?"

“Tom,” said Geron, ‘darting’ onwards to watch a caterpillar walk over a leaf. "He creates beautiful programs.”

The dummy, true to narrative, was “stunned into immobility for a moment”, and continued to show fairly accurate human emotions despite the lack of facial features. Iza giggled at its plastic expressions of shock and outrage.

"I knew that would be your reaction,” Geron continued. “You all hate him so much. I have never understood why. None of you ever look behind the mask that he wears for you so you won't be disappointed in him."

"Disappointed?" asked the dummy, pacing. "He betrayed us and would have killed us if he could."

“Hey!” snapped Iza. “Not true! Tom’s a good guy!”

She was not heard. Geron went on, "That's what you were told but you never asked him-“

“Comma, please,” Sedri said, glaring as she made a note.

Geron perched cross-legged on a flat rock at the water's edge and watched me with his wise young eyes.

Sedri’s hand paused mid-scribble. Her eyes narrowed. “This kid is sounding awfully Stu-ish already. What’s the CAD reading?”

Iza carefully pulled out the Character Analysis Device (her previous partners had never explained why, but always treated such things as if they were about to explode – though of course, that was ridiculous) and aimed it at the original character.

[Geron. Male. Probably Human. Non canon. Bit character.]

“Damn,” grumbled Sedri. Iza tilted her head.

“Can’t you kill him anyway?” she asked. “I mean, canon won’t miss him, will it?”

“No, but it’s better when they’re real Stus. Killing the bit characters isn’t very satisfying.”

Iza, who had never even killed an insect, nodded slowly with wide eyes. They kept watching for a while as the two men – well, the boy and the plastic doll – discussed how Tom was either a hateful traitor or a weeping lily, depending on which was speaking, and managed to completely misinterpret his history, making it sound like he was in a Starfleet prison for betraying the Maquis, which was logistically ridiculous. Sedri sighed. “I’m bored. This is taking too long. I want to portal onwards. Are there any charges we’ll miss if we leave now?”

Gazing at the holographic sky, Iza’s eyes glazed over for a moment as she read the Words behind the blue that were otherwise ringing around only inside the crash dummy’s head. “Just Geron claiming that Captain Janeway answered his questions about Tom’s personal life, which she would never do. Oh, and he talks about Tom looking terrified because Ayala was going to give Geron a good-natured smack. It’s not a proper flashback, though.”

“Note the charge from the Words then, and let’s go.”



One bright and fuzzy portal ride later, the agents were in another of Tom’s holodeck programs, this one canonical; Sandrine’s bar. The dummy was drinking a coffee and musing about Tom, mostly asking himself moral questions that sounded deep and meaningful but really just boiled down to, “We Maquis were holding a grudge because he wasn’t the idealist we were”, and how Geron was so young and innocent that he could see truth – which, Sedri pointed out, was ridiculous coming from a kid who had apparently been fighting a guerrilla war. “Like you said, he was Maquis; he couldn’t possibly be that naïve,” she said to Iza, writing it down.

Then, finally, something interesting happened; the door opened, and Tom Paris walked in. Iza stopped poking the pool balls and looked up with a bright smile and a wave, although the canon character couldn’t actually see her. He looked normal, but there was an edge of nervousness that both agents knew was nothing like the Tom they knew. He was heading for the replicator that Sandrine’s didn’t have when the dummy spoke.

"Paris. If I could have a word?" I spoke as softly as I could but he still flinched.

"Sure." He had the blank look back again, his eyes focused somewhere near my left ear.

"I'm having a cup of tea. Join me?"


“It was coffee!” declared Sedri. “At the start of the scene, it was coffee. Where’s my notebook – Ah! Randomly – altering – the – molecular – structure – of – an – innocent – caffeinated – beverage…

Iza raised her eyebrows. “Isn’t that a bit… picky? I mean, is it really worth a charge?”

Sedri finished writing and folded her arms. “Hmph. No. This is the first decent charge we’ve found. It’s hard to catch things here; the grammar’s good and most facts are right. It’s only the characterisation that’s off. Speaking of which…”

Digging out the CAD – the other CAD, the Canon Analysis Device – Sedri kept her thumb on the mute button and aimed it at Tom, who was nervous as he and the dummy sipped tea and talked about Geron.

[Thomas Eugene Paris. Human. Male. Canon. Out of Character: 35.6%]

Sedri frowned as the understanding-counsellor-wannabe narrative continued:

So much pain behind the walls he raised to keep us out. It flared briefly then I saw him lock it away behind a set of durilium shields.

“Another charge!” Iza piped up. “There’s no such thing as ‘durilium’.”

Sedri glanced at her, head tilted slightly to the side. “You’re sure? I know canon pretty well, but usually I look up-”

“I’m sure!” she chirped. “I’m a native, remember?” she said, tapping the Bajoran ridges on her nose. Sedri nodded and smiled a little.

“I remember. Charge away, then.”

Iza happily wrote it down.

At that moment, something vaguely interesting happened. Tom was saying, “The Captain and Commander can handle the job, Ayala,” and as the name was finally spoken, the dummy shuddered a little, then blossomed – there was no better word for it – into a fair imitation of the canonical Lieutenant. He had the right haircut and facial features, but there was still something yellow and plastic-y about his skin, and foam poked out of one shoulder. Iza giggled.

The scene continued in the same dull fashion after Tom left, and while the agents looked around the quaint little bar or half-heartedly played pool, the holographic Sandrine talked on and on about Tom’s personal life, telling Ayala all sorts of things that a relative stranger had no right to hear. The Paris family was portrayed as a stereotype of abuse, with Admiral Owen Paris being the brute who took out his anger and disappointment on the innocent, longing-to-really-fly son.

For the first time, Iza’s perky demeanour vanished entirely. “Admiral Paris,” she hissed, “is nothing like that. He’s a bit stiff and doesn’t like to show emotion, but he’s nice. He loves his son.”

Sedri touched her shoulder, more a habit of restraint than a gesture of comfort, but Iza relaxed and started scribbling notes again. “How out of character do they have to be before we can evict the Author wraith?”

“At least fifty percent,” said Iza, “but the higher the better. I’m kinda worried about charging Ayala, though. He’s got so little personality in canon that it’s hard to say what is out of character for him.”

Sedri frowned. “What if you can’t?”

Another shrug. “Exorcising Tom should be enough – or killing him if he turns out to be an impostor – but I don’t think there’s a rule about not exorcising someone who’s a little bit off…”

“Better make sure; we don’t want to deal with the sort of paperwork that comes from that kind of mistake.”

Iza nodded and continued to make notes, half of which didn’t look like charges anymore. “I’ve got the handbook here,” she said, tapping her bag, “I’ll get it in a minute.”

Sedri, still bored and toying with the eight-ball, looked up at the Words. “There’s scene change approaching; nothing interesting, though, just Neelix being in character and talking a lot. Let’s portal again.”

Not being given any real choice, Iza hurried to join her as Sedri fished out the Remote Activator and called up another plothole-driven portal.



For the next two hours, the agents flitted in and out of various, drawn-out dialogue scenes in which crash-dummy-Ayala talked to several people about Tom Paris, made some extremely careful attempts to keep the uncanonically nervous and under-confident pilot (peaking at 48% OOC) calm in his presence, and finally, started having erotic dreams about him. This last part disgusted Sedri, who became rather pale and shuddered, turning her back on the scene, but Iza watched as though it were a particularly dull cooking show. When asked, she just shrugged and said, “You should’ve seen what happened in the fic I came from.”

Sedri replied that she’d rather not.

In the meantime, they had collected a handful of frustratingly petty charges. Ayala compared his approach to Tom as a trainer would wild animals, prompting Sedri to snap, “Is this a petting zoo?”, twenty-first century slang appeared as “shit-eating grin”, and there was a general lack of respect for rank or titles of any kind. Neelix called Ayala “Mister” and Ayala himself pushed the limits of friendship to get information out of Chakotay. The first officer himself improperly referred to Captain Janeway by first name in front of a junior officer, creating a Mini-Tribble (“Katherine”) in the process. Iza cooed and scooped up the purring ball of fluff, which was small enough to fit onto her ring, while Sedri cautiously approached the other misspelling manifestation, Kazan.

“Kazon,” she muttered. “Kazon, Kazon, Kazon. The first two seasons have them as the bad guys and the spelling is phonetic. How could anyone get that wrong?”

“Don’t know,” said Iza in a sing-song voice, stroking the bit of fluff that was exactly the same shade of red as Janeway’s hair. “Probably just a typo.”

“A typo that has created a small, furry and biting problem for me to deal with,” said Sedri. “I didn’t know these things had teeth.”

“They don’t,” came the cheery reply.

The fanfic was unusually boring. As the author seemed to have a decent grasp of both spelling and grammar, Sedri couldn’t even find the usual absurd manifestations to laugh at. She wondered idly if slash authors might generally be better at such things than Suethors, but decided not to ask. The Ironic Over-Power loved such questions.

At last, something of interest. Ayala, Tom, and a large number of other crewmembers were down on a planet to gather food when a “lion-like” thing with “horns and scales instead of fur” attacked them without warning, despite the very up-to-date tricorder scans that Ayala himself was running. Paris, in an idiotic but slightly more in-character display of heroism, ran like a madman away from the crowd to draw the attack. This was ridiculous, as the armed security team could have easily stunned the creature (though none did, and Ayala upped his phaser setting to kill without having ever tried the stun), and it all ended with Tom being terribly injured while Naomi Wildman (who was far too young to have been on an away mission to an unsecured location, Sedri noted with a vicious scribble) screamed piercingly enough to give both agents a headache.

Ayala, of course, was the first to reach Tom, melodramatically frantic, and there was some puttering about while everyone returned to the ship, which the uninterested agents skipped, via portal, to arrive in sickbay some time later.

Instead, they turned up in the mess hall. Iza, who had handled the remote activator this time, shrugged. “Sorry. Missed.”

Sedri turned to the windows and actually smiled. “Don’t be,” she said, pointing and looking oddly serene. “This is what’s great about working in Star Trek; you’re almost guaranteed at least one spectacular view.”

Indeed it was. Voyager was still orbiting the lush planet, and from their current angle, dawn was spilling over the horizon, lighting half of the sphere in beautiful greens and purples, with white swirls floating serenely over the top. There were little sparkles across the ocean and twinkling stars behind it, and Sedri, who would have gladly stared at it for hours, was understandably reluctant to get back to work. But work, unfortunately, would always find them.

Chakotay was sitting at a table with Ayala, talking about how the crew weren’t accepting that Tom could have actually done something selfless. "We have an uphill battle, Gregor,” he said. “They're assuming this is a fluke of some kind. It's so odd that they refuse to see the changes in him."

Ayala replied, "Not so odd, Cha. If they-“

CHA?” bellowed Sedri, torn completely from her sightseeing. “Why you little… You don’t talk to COMMANDER Chakotay like that!”

“Um, Sedri?”

“Where’s my notebook?”

“Sedri-“

“Give – me – that – notebook.”

Iza handed it over, then looked up at the random crewman into whose ear Sedri had just bellowed, and smiled. “Hungry?” she asked, offering a plate of the blue vegetables everyone seemed to be eating. The crewman looked warily between them, not recognising either woman, almost ready to call security-

A flash exploded from the end of a pen-like object that Iza (now wearing sunglasses) was holding, and the crewman, dazed, wandered off, his memory wiped by the handy little neuralyser swiped from the Men In Black continuum.

Sedri took no notice. She was scribbling down the charges. “Come on,” she said, grabbing Iza’s arm. “We’re leaving.”

Iza placidly allowed her partner to haul them both out of the mess hall and asked, “Where are we going?”

“Sickbay. Ayala’s about to come down and see Tom, and there are some technical charges I want to catch. This entire fic is a sneaky bastard and I’m not missing any more, no matter how widely scattered.”

Humming a cheerful little tune, Iza went along without any apparent hurry, annoying the hell out of Sedri. They used the turbolifts this time, not bothering to portal since there was a very small time gap, and arrived in a nice, semi-dark sickbay where Tom was supposedly under observation by the doctor who was, oh-so-logically, offline. Sedri wrote it down.

Ayala arrived shortly afterwards and walked over to Tom. The exact Words were:

I brushed a lock of hair off his forehead and felt the heat radiating from him. Grabbing a tricorder from the side table, I took a reading. 101 degrees. Too high.

“Mm, yes,” said Sedri, suddenly amused. “Particularly since everyone in this century uses Celsius to measure temperature. I’d say that one-hundred-plus degrees Celsius is, indeed, a bit too high for a human body.” Then she frowned. “And why the hell wouldn’t anyone have noticed by now? Hello, what do you THINK all these monitors are here for? To beep and look pretty?”

Iza patted her shoulder. Sedri shot her such a vicious look that the Bajoran girl stumbled back into an equipment cart.

Ayala looked up from his vigil, and for a moment there was the very real risk that he, being a crash dummy and not strictly a canon character, would see them. But the canon of the Word Worlds is strong, and always does its best to help the agents that come to rescue it. Thus its identity as “Ayala” overrode the mischaracterisation and first person narration. He saw nothing, assumed he was imagining things, and turned back to Tom.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t much of a blessing. The agents watched with growing fury as the Doctor was activated, took a blood sample, and went off to the bio-lab to study it without doing anything to soothe his patient’s fever. Ayala played nurse, wiping him down with cool, wet cloths.

“What happened to technology?” Sedri asked rhetorically, waving a hand towards sickbay’s well-stocked trays of medicines. “One of those will, without any doubt, be able to reduce a fever and let poor Tom sleep, but noooooo. You have to use a more ‘hands on’ method and- Hah!”

Iza, who had been poking around the room and not paying much attention to what she considered a standard and boring scene, looked up at her highly amused partner. “What happened?”

Sedri, snorting back laughter, pointed. Tom was now shirtless as Ayala wiped down his chest, and his skin had, quite simply, turned into fabric. Woven, slightly shiny fabric the colour of his flesh, embroidered with dark pink circles and a spattering of fuzzy blonde stripes.

With no conveniently blank sky above them, Iza glanced around for a dark monitor and let her eyes slide out of focus until she could read the Words in the black glass:

I took a chance and pulled the sheet down part way and ran the alcohol wipe over his satin flesh.

Sedri was still chuckling, biting her thumbnail and turning to face the wall as she tried to control it. Then Iza giggled and set her off again.

That laugh got them through the rest of the scene. Sadly, they needed it; the story only got worse. Tom’s hair suddenly went from dark blonde to “golden red” as Ayala wiped down his belly far too close to the waistband of his trousers, and after the doctor finally returned with a “broad spectrum antibacterial” (“Antibacterial what?” Sedri grumbled. “Adjectives require nouns”), Ayala decided to stay because, as he told the Doctor:

“You'll need help if we have to pack him in ice to bring the temp down."

Thunk. Sedri’s forehead hit the wall once, twice, then a third time. Iza, arms folded and looking serious, informed them, “That’s stupid. This is the twenty-fourth century; they don’t use ice to bring down fevers. There are medicines. And the Doc wouldn’t need help from anyone, let alone you. He’s ‘the embodiment of modern medicine’, and the room temperature can be lowered to freezing if they really need to.”

Why?” Sedri moaned, hitting the wall with her fist for good measure. “Why this? What’s wrong with staying just because you’re worried?”

“Ayala’s the masculine.”

“Eh?”

Iza, sitting on a spare biobed and swinging her legs, repeated, “He’s the masculine partner. He’s the embodiment of strength, protectiveness and maturity. Saying he’s worried would be a sign of weakness. Tom’s the feminine half, so he’s the one who always suffers and needs help.” She shrugged. “It’s a typical theme in slash. Not all stories are like that, but a lot are.”

Sedri, whose experience with such pairings was limited to a few side-effects of Mary Sue invasions and nothing graphic, shrugged and replied, “We get that in het romances, too. Either the Sue is a wimp who needs rescuing or she’s a warrior who turns Legolas or Draco or Jack into a sop.”

“I’d like to work in the Sue department,” Iza said suddenly, absently noting down a charge for cruelty as Tom writhed in agony from the fever (for which the Doctor would have long since sedated him) just so Ayala could try to hold him down and hear him beg someone not to hurt him. “The Sue in my fic annoying and I didn’t even get to see her die. You don’t get to kill anything in Bad Slash.”

Making notes of her own and scanning the Doc with her CAD (OOC 33%), Sedri replied, “Be careful what you wish for, especially if your last partners familiarised you with enough continua. The Sunflower Official will try to get you transferred the moment he hears about it. We’re perpetually short of agents.”

“So’s Bad Slash.”

“So’s everyone.”

The scene dragged on as Ayala reminisced about his wife and sons, for whom he was “mourning” even though they were all very much alive. Iza, who definitely knew the continuum better than her partner, pointed out that the children were canon, but the wife was not – she could have been dead – and that Ayala couldn’t have “finally finished” grieving over her remarrying because it was only late in season four that they finally received letters from their families.

“So either he’s got a warped sense of time or we can charge him for a Temporal Distortion. Excellent!”

“Well…” Iza flinched as her partner glared, but went on, “He never said this was season four; the intelligence reporter just assumed it was because Kes has left and Naomi’s acting like a toddler, even though he called her a five-year-old.”

“Which implies season seven, technically, but half-Ktarian children age a lot faster.”

Iza nodded and gave an apologetic little shrug. “So we can charge him for a temporal distortion because of the letters or for making Naomi act out of character for her age. Not both.”

”Bugger.” Sedri paused a moment, then made a note. “Charge for causing events to happen out of canon plotline order.”

Iza perked up. “That works!”

“Mmm,” muttered her partner, still bored. “This is taking forever; I want to portal again.”

Reading the Words, Iza said, “It’s almost done. There’s just one bit coming up where-”

“Is that a stethoscope?”

“-Tom sniffs him.”

Sedri whirled around, looking a little pale. “What?”

“Tom sniffs him,” replied Iza, “and he narrates on and on about what Tom smells like and how next he wants to taste-“

“Okay!” said Sedri quickly. “Right! Enough information; stop right there. Don’t tell me.”

Iza looked confused. “What’s wrong?”

There was a long moment of silence (from the agents, at least, for at the biobed the Doc was indeed listening to Tom’s lungs “the old fashioned way”) as Sedri narrowed her eyes. She’d read Iza’s file before the girl arrived, but it was only now occurring to her just what being born from a slashfic meant for the question of modesty. “Iza,” she said slowly, “you do know why some authors and agents refuse to touch slash, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes,” Iza chirped. “My last partner told me it’s a personal choice, just like what brand of soap people use, and there’s never any harm in asking an agent what they hate most, or what their worst mission ever was like.”

Blink. “I am seriously doubting the sanity of your last partner.”

“He was sent down to Psych for observation.”

“Figures. Look, Iza- Damn!”

A scene change caught them both by surprise. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the simple sort of scene change that just dissolves one setting into another, but the end of the first chapter. The next section was introduced with:

HERE’S THE SEQUAL AND THEY’RE MOVING REALLY SLOWLY BUT THAT’S JUST THE MOOD WE’RE ALL IN SO THAT’S THAT.

“Author,” Sedri said aloud once both agents had uncovered their ears, “your story’s grammar is actually tolerable. Please use it all the time. And no, we are not all in the mood to move slowly. I want this mission over and done with as soon as possible.”

Iza picked herself up off the floor (again) and looked around while Sedri ranted, watching Sandrine’s bar materialise around them. Everything looked relatively canonical, with Tom and Harry playing pool while Ayala drank with his friends from security, except that Tom Paris was wearing jeans just so Ayala could watch the anachronistic garment “hug his slim hips and every time he leaned over the table”.

She stamped her foot and pouted. “Not right! Tom only ever wears jeans when trying to fit into a time period! He wore them when they were thrown back in time to Earth in ‘ninety-six, and maybe in a historical piece on the holodeck. NOT in Sandrine’s! It’s a twenty-fourth century bar that Tom visited on Earth!”

“Calm down, Iza,” said her partner, who sounded more worn out than annoyed with the error. “If you want something to get angry about, there’s a scene on the planet coming up where Ayala finds a cheap excuse to rub ‘old fashioned sunscreen’ on Tom’s face.”

The small, thin girl folded her arms. “No one uses sunscreen anymore. We’ve got better medical technology than that.”

“Then let’s go.”

The planet scene was largely uninteresting; Ayala lusted shamelessly inside his own head, called himself dark-skinned though he wasn’t even close (though the yellow plastic of the crash dummy made an interesting attempt to accommodate that description), and after Tom left for the ship there was a “warble”. Concerned, Ayala called out to his senior officer, Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres, Voyager’s Chief Engineer and the commander of the away team: “Are you picking up anything, B'El?”

B’EL?” screeched Sedri, and now it was Iza’s turn to be restrain her partner as Sedri made a grab for the dummy’s throat. It was a hopeless attempt, of course, as Sedri was bigger and much heavier than she, but it was distraction enough to bring the older agent back to her senses.

“Notebook. NOW.”

Four or five pages were ruined as she slashed it with her pencil.

“Er… Sedri? There’s about to be an earthquake. We should go.”

“It’s not a real quake,” growled Sedri, arms folded as she glared daggers at Ayala. “It’s a pathetic attempt at a quake that takes several minutes to ‘arrive’. I’ve been in earthquakes. You’d have to be the Princess With The Bloody Pea to sense an earthquake before it hits, and that’s only if you’re far from enough the epicentre. It cannot take FIVE WHOLE MINUTES.”

“So you have a perfect charge right there,” Iza soothed, taking the risk of touching her partner’s shoulder. Sedri, seething, did not react. “Come on, let’s portal. I read ahead; there’s a long stretch of scenes where nothing happens but Ayala being fatherly and mixing up the mess hall and briefing room with the Enterprise-D’s observation lounge. We can skip that.”

Sedri looked up and narrowed her eyes, not trusting these mood swings. “And then?”

“Then they come back to the planet to look for dilithium and there’s a bit of danger which makes Tom all terrified that Ayala will be hurt-“

“He will be,” she promied

“-and his mischaracterisation goes off the scale. I’m not sure how you do things in the Sue department, but that’s the point where I’d do the exorcisms.”

Good,” snapped Sedri, standing. “What do I set the portal for?”

Iza gave her the coordinates and found herself being dragged through the doorway by one very sore wrist. She tried to glare and cried, “Be careful!”

Sedri ignored her, scanning through her list of charges.

I was totally unprepared for the Captain's offering me the lead of the away party. I didn't have to think about it. It's what I trained to do and I accepted at once.

“No, it’s not, and you’re not bloody qualified, Mister Security Officer,” snapped Sedri.

B'Elanna was agitating to go and the Captain sat on that idea immediately. She was too valuable to risk and she knew it but she loves the danger.

Iza, too, was losing patience with the fic. “So every other mission that’s been led by a senior officer is somehow less risky? And for a more dangerous mission you send the less experienced officers? Charge,” she announced, writing in her notebook: “Faulty logic.” Then she paused and added, “B’Elanna doesn’t love danger. That was one episode where she was grieving for her dead friends… which actually might be rather close to this point in time, but Ayala wouldn’t know about it.” Glancing at the Words, she added, “And you’re shifting tense.”

Sedri looked around. “They’re not leaving yet. They’re going to Sandrine’s.” Her voice was accusing. Iza squirmed.

“Er, yeah. Sorry.”

They portalled again. Iza was getting a little dizzy, but the upcoming exorcism was lifting her spirits; she knew Sedri hadn’t been terribly impressed by her, though she had no idea why, and was hoping to earn a little respect from the assassin by performing a task that she couldn’t. Iza’s ‘blank slate’ mind, backed by her underdeveloped personality, thought this was perfectly reasonable.

In Sandrine’s, Tom and Ayala were sipping tea, and Tom was downcast and sulky.

"Sorry about our run. After this trip, we'll meet for sure. I'm taking a break from checking the equipment. I don't want anything to go wrong tomorrow."

"The mountain may take care of that for you." His voice was bitter.


“Great; now he’s depressed, abused, and a fatalist.”

Iza took out her CAD again and pointed it at Tom, but Sedri smacked it down before she could activate it. “Don’t,” she warned. “I’ll bet you anything that it’ll explode.”

“...They really do that?”

Sedri rolled her eyes.

They waited, again, while the pair used ridiculous phrases and far too much body language to imply (though it was more of a sharp blow to the head) that they were going to end up in bed sooner or later, and eventually the agents portalled ahead, skipping Ayala’s little expedition and subsequent near-crushing by a collapsing cave (from which he was rescued by Tom in the shuttle, at which point they both, for some odd reason, burst out laughing) to emerge in the “observation lounge”.

Iza looked around. The room – which should have been the mess hall, but was warped by being called the wrong name – was empty. “What happened?”

“They’re on their way,” Sedri told her. “They’ve just come from a cheery little debriefing with the Captain where everyone was happy to have gotten dilithium crystals and Tom and Ayala were praised for doing a good job.”

“Right, I remember!” chirped Iza. “I read this part! I know what’s going to-“

Reading is never the same as witnessing,” Sedri told her, ripping through her bag in search of something. “That’s why we’re sent into these damn fics in the first place; we can’t punish them for a crime against canon unless we’ve seen the full horror ourselves.”

Iza knew this perfectly well, but stating the obvious seemed to calm Sedri down, so she said nothing. There was silence for a minute, then Iza asked, “Can you hold them down? I need to tie them up before we exorcise them, and they’re too big for me.”

“Here,” replied Sedri, tossing her a hypospray. “Sedative. It’ll wear off in an hour. Just get close enough to inject them.”

Holding the cool metal cylinder in both hands, Iza nodded. They waited.

At last, Tom and Ayala entered. The two agents were standing against the wall in which the door was set, and so remained out of sight as the pair entered and-

He was in my arms as soon as the door slid shut behind us, shaking and crying my name. I held him in a desperate hug that tried to absorb him into my own body, touching him with calming hands that soothed the muscles in his back with tender sweeps.

"I've never been so afraid,” Tom cried pathetically. “Caring hurts-"

“Yes it does,” Sedri declared. The couple jerked apart in surprise as the agent stormed up to them. “I care, and this hurts.”

And it did, at least for Ayala. The several-inches-shorter agent struck him across the face with a vicious backhand. Some foam burst out of its jaw as he stumbled to the floor.

Tom – or the thing that was masquerading as Tom – stared in horror as Sedri stomped on his soon-to-be lover’s hands and kicked his head for good measure. Iza quietly walked up behind the pilot and pressed her hypospray against Tom’s neck. He collapsed.

“Computer, seal the doors to this room,” ordered Iza, and dug around in her bag for the duct tape. Sedri was having a fine time keeping Ayala still, but she was a strong woman and had the advantage that her opponent was still, at its core, a plastic dummy. By the time Iza reached her, Sedri was straddling his back, boots crushing his hands into the floor and gripping his hair, forcing his head up at a painful angle.

“Can you get his feet?” she asked. Ayala-the-dummy gave a sharp kick of protest. Iza flinched.

“No, I don’t think…”

Sedri’s fist cracked against Ayala’s temple, and he lay still. “Now,” she said, dusting her hands, “we need to know if that’s the real Tom or a Replacement Stu.” Pulling out the CAD, she carefully pointed it at the unconscious pilot.

[Thomas Eugene Paris. Human. Male. Canon. Out of Character: 95.8%]

Iza looked at the readout and nodded. “Two exorcisms, then, and you’ll kill the original characters afterwards?”

Sedri nodded. “Let’s get on with it.”

A few minutes later the agents had both men bound and gagged, propped up in chairs each surrounded by a circle of candles. Iza had her bell in one hand and Sedri’s very hard box set of DVDs in the other. Sedri herself was sitting back on a couch, content to watch now that she’d taken out most of her frustration on the dummy.

Unlike a Mary Sue assassination, exorcisms worked better when the subjects were unconscious. Iza, now completely in her element, calmly rang the bell and approached Ayala. The crash dummy was somewhat worse for wear, but it made no difference. Holding out the box set with both arms Iza cried, “In the name of Roddenberry, I bid thee leave this place! Begone, Angst! Begone, Lust! Begone, Bad Slash! You have no more power in this continuum! The power of canon compels you – GET OUT!”

And with that, she slammed the box set into Ayala’s rubber chest. The candles around him glowed brighter and there was a sudden, sharp wind that blew them all out. A wail was heard, distant and echoing, then louder as a thin, dark mist rose from the rubber body. It took a human shape, vaguely female, and then, with a faint, pathetic cry, dissipated into the air.

The room brightened, and there were three sharp claps from behind that made Iza jump and spin, only to see that her partner was gently – for her, at least – applauding. “Neat,” she said, grinning. “I like the atmosphere.”

Iza brightened and grinned, but it didn’t occur to her to offer Sedri the next one. Taking a moment to light the second circle of candles, Iza repeated the process.

This time it took a great deal longer – and a lot more satisfying whacks to the head – to force the well-anchored wraith out of Tom’s body. While Iza was cheerfully abusing her box set, Sedri lifted the CAD and aimed it at the pilot’s rapidly bruising body, clicking the button after each blow.

[Thomas Eugene Paris. Human. Male. Canon. Out of Character: 94.7%]

Smack.

[Thomas Eugene Paris. Human. Male. Canon. Out of Character: 87.6%]

Smack.

[Thomas Eugene Paris. Human. Male. Canon. Out of Character: 79.4%]

Smack.

Sixty-six percent… fifty-one… thirty-four percent, twenty-two, eighteen, thirteen, seven, four…

You didn’t have to read it!” moaned the thicker, darker wraith as it was dragged out of Tom. “If you don’t like, don’t reaaaaaaaadddd…

As before, the black cloud faded away until the room was left clear and refreshingly canonical. Almost.

“About the OCs,” said Sedri, ripping duct tape off the now-deflating yellow dummy. “Didn’t you say there were two of them – a Stu and a Sue?”

“Yes,” replied Iza lightly, then stopped. “But she didn’t appear ‘til way, way later. Since we stopped the story here, will she actually exist somewhere, or do things not manifest until they’re narrated?”

“Depends on the fic,” said Sedri, “but it’s not hard to find out. What’s her name-? Ah, wait, I remember; Kimber. Computer,” she ordered, “locate Lieutenant ‘Kimber’.”

The flat voice replied. “There is no ‘Lieutenant Kimber’ on board Voyager.”

Iza bounced. “Well that’s that!” she declared. “Computer, locate crew member Geron.”

“Geron is in the hydroponics bay.”

Scowling at the lack of rank title – though with such an immature, uncanonical brat, it was almost to be expected – Iza and Sedri untied both their captives, packed up Iza’s equipment, and set the unconscious pilot on a couch to make it look like he’d fallen asleep. Sedri, in true Organised Packrat fashion, produced a canonical dermal regenerator from her bag and used it to heal his multiple bruises while Iza messily shoved the flattened dummy into her bag. Then, hurrying in case the sleeping drug wore off, the agents quietly slid out of the still-incorrect room.

Predictably, young Geron was wandering the racks of growing vegetables with a wistful, gentle air of unrealistic innocence. As an original character, Canon couldn’t prevent him from seeing the agents, and unlike on the holodeck, there was no convenient foliage to conceal them. He turned around as the door opened, waving cheerfully to the strange women, a huge smile plastered on his cheeks.

“Hello!” he called. “Here, come and look! Isn’t it wonderful? It’s so fresh and happy and alive! It’s alive! It’s all alive. Oh, I should show Gregor and Tom and-”

“Yes,” Sedri replied with a forced smile. “It is. Beautiful. Geron, we-“

She stopped dead, two metres from Geron. His eyes were wide and glazed, dark, and something in them was very clearly not naïve at all. She instantly changed the plan.

“We just… want to look around.”

The boy nodded, entire body but the eyes full of eagerness and joy. Iza frowned at her partner, but allowed herself to be dragged against a wall on the far side, separated from the OC by three or four rows of flourishing plant life. “What is it?” Iza asked. “I thought we-“

“Iza,” Sedri whispered. “Why, exactly, do Author-wraiths evaporate?”

Brow furrowed, the slasher replied; “Because after she’s been exorcised from the characters and they return to normal, there’s nothing uncanon left in the story for her to cling to.”

“But there is something of hers left,” reasoned Sedri, thinking fast. “Geron. He’s not looking like an OC, Iza; did you see his eyes? He looks like a canon who’s under the influence of a Mary Sue.”

“But he is a Sue – a Stu,” she corrected herself. “They don’t need the author to force them into doing things. They do it for her.”

“Exactly. He’s practically the author’s self-insert, because if I remember right, the report said that later on, he admits to playing matchmaker for Tom and Ayala. So if he’s just the tool for the author’s will…”

“… It makes perfect sense that the wraiths would seek refuge in him! It’s their best chance of survival!” Iza clapped her hands together in delight, making more noise than Sedri was comfortable with.

“Yes, yes; hush. That’s my theory. Which means that he – or the wraith in him – is responsible for all those charges we noted for the formal report. If we only charge him for the character’s crimes, Upstairs will be Very Angry.”

Iza cheerfully dug out her notebook. “Then let’s go! HI-HO, hi-ho, HI-HO, hi-ho, HI-HO, hi-ho, hi-ho-HUM!”

Pausing to use the replicator (repeated plot holes were making the things manifest in every room), Sedri followed. She found her partner cheerfully shaking the hand of a bewildered Geron and saying, “…never done this before and it’ll be SO much fun – well, not for you, maybe, but I’m sure Sedri’s good at what she does and I get to watch and learn and maybe the Flowers will someday let me do it too and-“

“And I think you’re exhausting our friend,” said the older woman in a bright, false voice. She approached with a drinking glass in her hand. “Here,” she said, giving it to Geron. “I thought you might like some water. All this work you do must make you very thirsty.”

Geron, true to his innocent nature, took it without question. “Thank you!” he said happily. “That’s so kind; thank you very much! My name’s Geron,” he added, “What’s yours?”

Iza stepped back to watch her partner work. Sedri was smiling still, trying to hold it as the boy swallowed a large gulp. “Well, my name is Sedri…”

The glass crashed to the floor, spilling a clear liquid that hissed as it hit several plants. Geron jerked, choked, and dropped to his knees with a moan.

The woman’s cheery demeanour vanished immediately. “Agent Sedri, actually, of the PPC, and it is my duty to inform you that you have been charged with multiple and deeply offensive crimes against canon.”

Geron tried to speak, but only managed a gargle; his mouth was bleeding, scattering tiny red drops everywhere.

“Erm… Sedri?” asked her partner. “What, exactly, was in that glass?”

“Hydrochloric acid.”

The boy’s eyes grew wide in horror. Sedri crouched before him, eyes flat and hard, barely glancing at her notebook. “You are charged,” she said coldly, “with causing personality alterations and character ruptures in Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna Torres, and most significantly in Tom Paris. You are charged with breaking up a canonical romance, causing Tom Paris to be suddenly and unaccountably homosexual, altering the known history of Thomas Eugene Paris and slandering the Paris family.”

Geron coughed, splattering blood across the floor and Sedri’s boots. Iza shrieked and jumped back from the spray.

“The acid is dissolving the flesh of your mouth and digestive tract,” said the assassin, snatching his comm badge before he could think to call for help. “You are also charged with the following: Employing melodramatics; total disrespect for the rank system and social hierarchy aboard Voyager – a crewman such as Ayala does not treat senior officers like friendly school chums except in highly informal situations, which an away mission certainly does not qualify as; endowing said senior officers with demeaning nicknames; abuse by lack of use of technology – there is no medical use of sunscreen, ice, or stethoscopes on Voyager because they have things that work better; causing anachronistic behaviour – specifically, using the phrase “shit-eating grin” and the wearing of jeans in the twenty-fourth century.”

Shaking, Geron clawed uselessly at his neck. Blood was everywhere and his voice was gone – the acid had destroyed his throat.

Iza flinched and screwed her eyes shut.

“You are charged with the use of bad physics and biology – giving Tom Paris a temperature of over one hundred degrees Celsius, creating the uncanonical alloy ‘durilium’, causing an earthquake to take five whole minutes to reach a single geographical point, and randomly altering the molecular structure of an innocent caffeinated beverage. You are charged with mangling the internal schematics of Voyager by confusing the mess hall and briefing room, and by creating an ‘observation lounge’. You are charged with temporal disruptions and causing events to happen out of canon plotline order – if Naomi is behaving like a human three-year-old, then there is no way Ayala could have known about his semi-canonical wife remarrying for more than a month or two. Alternatively, you are charged with mangling the growth rate of the half-Ktarian Miss Naomi Wildman. In addition, you are charged with barely mentioning Ayala’s emotional connection to his sons, which was one of the few canonical personality traits we actually know about.”

Both agents were forced to step back now as Geron, now collapsed on the floor, scrambled to reach them, grasping at their legs, unable to register surprise or confusion when Sedri continued, “You are charged with giving Tom Paris fabric for skin, changing his hair from dark blonde to golden red, calling Ayala ‘dark skinned’ when he is barely olive, and abuse of the adjective ‘antibacterial’ by giving it no adjacent noun. Iza, do you have any more?” Her eyes stayed firmly fixed on Geron.

"Um… uh, y-yes," stammered the white-faced Iza, taking out her notebook and unable to look at the dying boy. “Calling humans ‘Earthers’; bringing Naomi on an away mission to a place that isn’t totally safe; faulty logic, like giving Ayala command of a mission because it’s too dangerous for B’Elanna; language abuse by shifting tense from past to present, and creating Mini-Tribbles. There’s also… well, his character itself.”

“Go ahead, then.”

Iza's hands shook. Geron's was now lying with his arms wrapped around his belly in silent agony. “G-Geron,” she said, “you’re charged with having a ‘naturally sweet nature’, being ‘tender hearted’, being naïve and having ‘wise eyes’ at the same time, and… and-“

“And being a Gary Stu,” finished Sedri. “In other words, Geron, this is for what you did to Tom and B’Elanna.”

The formalities done, Sedri took two strides back to Geron's shuddering body and stomped on his throat. There was a sickening crunch.

Iza threw up.



Some time later, back in the response centre, Iza was leaning over the sink when the portal lit up and her partner stepped through, brushing off her bloodstained hands. “Hello, Izzy!” she called, hopping over some boxes. “Feeling better?”

“Ugth. No,” replied the slasher. “And don’t call me that.”

“What?”

“‘Izzy’. That’s what the Sue called me.”

Sedri shrugged, leaving her bag on the table and coming into the square metre that could be called a kitchen to wash her hands in the sink. As the smell of fresh blood hit her, Iza jerked back and crashed into an armchair.

“All right, no nicknames,” said her partner, not noticing. “If you want to know, I threw the body into the plasma stream of Voyager’s nacelle tube. It was completely vaporised.”

“I don’t care,” groaned Iza, paler than usual as she trudged over to the bags. With something akin to sympathy, Sedri dried off her hands and followed.

“So, do you still want to work in the ‘Sue department?” she asked, unpacking her discs and putting the box set safely back in a cabinet. The Bajoran peered at her quizzically.

“How did you know about that?”

“You told me. In sickbay.”

“I did?” Iza frowned, then shrugged, taking out the tiny cage she had replicated to house the Mini-Tribbles during the rest of the mission. Their warm cooing made her smile. “Can’t remember. Must be another blank thingie like the Doc said.”

Sedri chuckled. “Why is it you can remember every detail there is to know in canon, but not that?”

“Because it’s what I was written for, I guess,” answered Iza, stroking the fluffballs as she looked around. “Where am I going to keep them?”

“You’re not,” her partner replied flatly, as she carefully (and somewhat guiltily) refolded the damaged crash dummy into its cube. “Not in my response centre; you know how tribbles breed. Send them to the ‘Trek Fanfic Academy and let ‘em attack the authors there. I’m sure course co-ordinator will be pleased.”

Iza pouted, but having been written as the backup to a more dominant character, it never occurred to her to argue – not that good common sense would have given her much to work with. “Anyway,” she said, a little nervously, “about your department… Killings don’t have to be that… that messy, do they?”

“Not necessarily. But this brat deserved it, and there are worse ones who deserve more. No one’s going to be nice to them for your sake. Besides,” Sedri told her, “I don’t think you have to worry; Upstairs generally doesn’t give us much choice. If they were going to transfer you here permanently, they would have done it by now.”

Iza opened her mouth, closed it, then looked at the console. “Three… two… one…”

With its speakers ripped out, there was no sound, but her timing was impeccable: The screen lit up as a message was received. Sedri glared suspiciously at her. Iza shrugged.

“Laws of Narrative Comedy. The Doc said characters like me have good instincts for predicting it.”

Stalking over to read it, the human agent prayed she was wrong.

Attention: Agent Sedri
You are hereby assigned a new partner; assassin-in-training Agent Iza. We trust that you are up to the challenge of turning her into a fully-fledged killer and wish you all the best of luck in your happy, productive working relationship.
Inquiries may be brought to your immediate supervisor. Do NOT ask for a raise.
Regards,
The Sunflower Official


With a long sigh, Sedri looked at her new, now permanent partner and said, “Well. I suppose I’ll have to get used to that.”


Date: 2008-05-09 10:30 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] agent-tomato.livejournal.com
Very nice mission. And you deserve applause for actually making the distinction between Canon Analysis Device and Character Analysis Device. I've been just saying "CAD" for the last six missions.

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September 2010

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