rc_1830 ([personal profile] rc_1830) wrote2010-09-16 01:01 pm

Mission: Allies

Mission: Allies
Author: Sedri
Rating: M15
Summary: Agent Sedri and her new partner, Agent Ketay, take on a LotR/Narnia crossover in which Susan is forced into marriage with Legolas.

DISCLAIMER: The Lord of the Rings belongs to Tolkien, Narnia belongs to C.S. Lewis, and the PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. The Alliance belongs to pkatharine, who can keep it.

Mission: Allies
Response Centre #1830

Attention: Agent Sedri
You are hereby assigned to the Department of Implausible Crossovers. Please report to The Lichen's office immediately. No, you will not get a raise.
The Sunflower Official

Three days old, and that irritating, decidedly uninformative message still hadn't had the decency to get off her screen. Something had to be wrong with the console again – that, or the last tech from DoSAT had taken offense at having to wade through the stacks of books, weapons and furniture that packed her RC, and deliberately rigged it. Sedri sighed, poking at the keyboard once more. "Come on," she said to the console; "all I want to do is watch a movie while I wait. It'd be good for me to be familiar with more continua – that's part of the job, remember?"

The console did not respond. The bright letters of the message stayed put.

"I promised not to rip out your speakers again," Sedri went on earnestly. "I even went out of my way to have all your old dents removed. Can't you let me watch a movie? Please? I've read every book I own three times, and who knows how much longer we're going to be waiting? Come on, please?"

The console flickered once – a stock image of the PPC Manual – but otherwise did not respond.

Scowling, Sedri reached into her coat pocket for the small hammer she usually kept there. "Don't you go spouting the Flowers' propaganda. I'm not reading that thing again."

The console's screen seemed to brighten. Sedri squinted and frowned, then held up the hammer, idly toying with it.

"You know that hurts my eyes."

Was it her imagination, or did it brighten just a little bit more?

"I could smash you, you know."

After a moment's pause, the screen dimmed – just a little.

"That's better."

Unfortunately, the S.O.'s message was still there, bright and clear, and threat or no threat, Sedri really didn't want to deal with another exasperated technician after the minor fiasco that had taken place when someone came to rewire her computer for DIC missions – that was probably why her console was being so impudent anyway, the little rat. It must've overheard.

So that left the former assassin with little to do but continue cleaning, given that her RC had spent the past six months as something of a death trap for anyone who hadn't mastered the fine art of hopping from one clear patch to another. In the days that had passed since she had reported to The Lichen and been told to expect her new partner "soon", Sedri had actually managed to restore the jam-packed, bookshelf-filled, souvenir-stuffed and otherwise insanely cluttered room to something resembling order. All that was left now was to polish her weapons collection and scrub her tiny refrigerator.

Given the choice, she chose to polish.

Knock, knock, knock.

"Finally," muttered Sedri, who was having rather less fun trying to reach between the spikes of a large iron mace than she'd planned. Turning to the door, she called out, "Come in."

No response.

Are all inanimate objects out to get me? Raising her voice, she all but shouted, "COME IN!"

The door opened and a grey-skinned woman with scale-like ridges stepped in. "Agent Sedri, I presume," she said.

"My new partner, I assume," replied Sedri. "You're late."

The woman – a Cardassian, from the Trekverse – frowned. "I'm always on time," she stated evenly. "I came here directly from The Lichen's office. If you would care to examine the hallways from here to there for time-distorting plotholes you're welcome to, but I assure you, I am not late."

Oh peachy. Clearly, they were going to get along just swell.

"Sorry, sorry," Sedri grumbled. "It's just a bit annoying, waiting here three days with a stupid, sentient console – I swear it's snarky, too – after the sweet-talking bubble of cheer that is my new boss told me a partner would be assigned immediately. Is he always that perky or is it some sort of trick to lure everyone he meets into a false sense of security?"

The DIC agent frowned disapprovingly, but instead of answering she said, "Perhaps I was assigned immediately. Whether or not that news reached me immediately is another question. I received notice after returning from a mission."

It was all very politely delivered, and as such, twice as irritating. Sedri sighed. "Look, I said I'm sorry, and I am. Believe it or not, my temper used to be a lot worse, and… You know what? Let's just start over." She stood, putting aside the medieval bludgeoning tool and extending her hand. "Hi, I'm Sedri. I've been an assassin for years and I've no idea why they're suddenly kicking me out of the DMS. I like good books and a good laugh and I'd really love to have a sane partner this time."

She even smiled. The Cardassian looked at the proffered hand and, with obvious reluctance, reached out to take it. "My name is Ketay."

After the shortest of handshakes, she released her grip. This was just perfect. Sedri scowled. "I'm not contagious."

"I'm Cardassian," said Ketay. "I don't like to touch people. For us, a handshake is the equivalent of… a 'kiss on the cheek'."

"...Ah," said Sedri, and her mouth clacked shut. Cultural faux-pas – no wonder they weren't hitting it off well. Unlike the recruits who had been so poorly written as to retain only the appearance of whatever species they came from – Iza, for example – this woman had clearly been given enough depth to hold on to the nuances of her species. Sedri made a mental note to read up on Cardassian customs. "Well, er… did you know that in some Human cultures people greet each other with a kiss on each cheek?"

Ketay nodded – one clipped, precise dip of the head. Sedri floundered.

"I do like Star Trek, you know. I'm not an encyclopaedic-type fan, but I have all the series." She waved a hand grandly towards one of the bookshelves, which did indeed hold DVD box sets of every season of Star Trek.

"I'm sure you are," said Ketay mildly. Then, turning a little, she said, "My belongings are still in my old response centre. I'll need to get them before we can begin our mission."

"That's probably the only reason the console hasn't beeped," agreed Sedri, turning to narrow her eyes at the innocent-looking machine, which was now displaying a non-confrontational screensaver, the Federation crest. Sedri huffed. "Do you need help?"

"No; I simply wanted to meet you before going back to pack."

Way to rub it in, the human woman grumbled silently. "Up to you," she said, flopping back down into a chair. "Feel free to take your time; if the plotholes get you again, maybe I'll even have time to watch a movie-" she glared at the console "-before you get back."

The console screen abruptly went dark. Ketay raised one black eyebrow – how did some people master the muscle control for that? – but said nothing. Turning neatly on her heel, she left the room.

Sedri strode directly to the console and folded her arms. "I want to see the Memory Alpha article on Cardassians – now, thank you."

The console meekly beeped, and obeyed.

The Laws of Cosmic Irony being what they are, it took less than ten minutes for Ketay to return, though it's arguable as to whether this should be blamed on plotholes or how few personal items she actually had. As she walked, she kept her mind entirely occupied with trying to remember every item in her new partner's response centre – no mean feat – and so the only thing that caught her attention when she walked back in was the height to which Sedri jumped at the sound of the opening door. The Human had been standing and leaning over the console, not sitting leisurely as one would for a film. The expression on her face, when she turned, was one of badly-concealed guilt.

At this point it should be noted that a key trait of normal Trekverse Cardassians is that they are rather prone to suspicion. More so, they see it as a strength, and consider anyone more trusting to be foolish at best. Ketay was no exception, and in the PPC, it served her well.

Politely, without so much as narrowing her eyes, she asked, "Did you have time to watch your movie?"

Sedri shook her head. "Managed half a cartoon, though."

There was nothing worthwhile to say to that, so Ketay moved on. "Have you received the report for our-"


"-mission," they finished together. Sedri chuckled softly, apparently relieved that they had something in common. She turned and accessed the file. "Standard crossover, Narnia and Tolkienverse, with a Susan/Legolas pairing and an M rating. Looks like movieverse. There's a note from Intel about poor grammar and a quote from the author's profile says that English isn't her first language – sounds fairly standard. It's been a while since I've done any Untangling, though."

"I do it often," Ketay told her, opening a bag and pulling out some DIC equipment. Sedri nodded.

"Report also says there's a bit character that will need to die. Have you ever done any assassinations, or shall I take care of that?"

Irked by the question, Ketay stiffened a little and replied, "I'm perfectly able to kill."

Sedri – who hadn’t thought it rude – blinked, then shrugged. "Jolly good, then. Ready?"

"Have you set the disguise generator?" asked Ketay, approaching with her field pack. "I won't blend in without it."

"Yes, I set the disguise generator," replied Sedri, now getting irritable too. "For both of us, as a matter of fact; my uniform won't fit in there any more than your skin. We're going to be fauns." She jabbed at another button, and a portal zapped into being beside the console. "Ready?"

Ketay nodded and stepped through.

The agents emerged in a fairly Narnian-esque library and promptly tripped over their own 'feet', barely grabbing the nearest bookshelf in time to keep from toppling over. Being a faun was not exactly easy; one could adapt to having hooves instead of toes well enough, but having legs that bent in entirely unfamiliar places was harder. "Now I know how Marsha must've felt," Sedri grumbled under her breath, slinging the strap of her Bag over one shoulder as she tried to regain her balance. Beside her, Ketay was doing no better.

"At least the disguises work," replied the other woman, glancing at a nearby window and cringing at her now-pinkish skin and fluffy brown hair, so different from the straight, shiny Cardassians black she was proud of. Sedri was more concerned with their lack of clothing; thanks to the dress habits of Narnian fauns, whose hips and legs were always covered with a thick layer of fur, neither agent wore more than a thin, sleeveless shirt. It was a tad chilly.

With no preliminaries, the narrative began, and Peter could be heard apologising to his sister – without a very necessary comma. Reaching into her Bag, Sedri pulled out a notebook and began scribbling. Ketay watched the Words.

Peter just laid out the plight of their land after 3 years of war with the great evil giants of Harfang.

A small granite "3" fell to the ground with a thud, and Sedri shuffled forward (not yet ready to try walking) to pick it up. Behind her, Ketay said, "Unfinished sentence. And as I recall, it was the Ettin giants who were violent, not those of Harfang."

Sedri nodded, "Yeah, I think you're right; the ones in Harfang ate people, but they were at least-"

"Tense shift!"

Their lands were depleted and so was their army yet the war is not over.

Both agents winced. "Owwwww…"

Ketay, holding her head in her hands, turned back towards her partner. "Are you all right?"

"No. Tense shifts always give me headaches. They make the world go all swirly-swirl."

"There's another one coming – in the next sentence. Brace yourself."

An alliance with the powerful and immortal elves of Mirkwood was what they have been discussing.

Teeth clenched, Sedri blindly thrust a hand into her Bag until she touched her CAD – a combined CAD, thankfully, which was clearly in just as much pain as they despite its taped-down "mute" button.

[Unstable tenses detected. Revert Agents to permanent past tense? Y/N]

Jabbing "Y" with far more force than necessary, Sedri slumped in relief as the adjustment took effect. Beside her, Ketay let out a sigh. "Thank you."


In the centre of the room, the four Pevensies were sitting very still in their seats while the narrative continued to spout contrived backstory.

The elves lived in the south thriving very well in their immense and wealthy cities. They had no fear of wars for all Narnian creatures, great or small, fear them.

"I'll give on the cities part," said Sedri, writing notes again, "but Tolkienverse elves are not feared, especially not on that scale, and especially not by animals. Animals," she amended, enunciating the first vowel.

"And this is still only the first paragraph," agreed Ketay, shaking her head. "Oh, look – cliché; apparently there's no way to settle a treaty without Susan getting married." She paused. "And now we have Telmarines."


Ketay pointed to the blank wall on which she was reading the Words. "Susan is angsting about being in love with her 'best friend', Caspian."

"Making this somewhere around the year twenty-three-hundred," said Sedri, frowning, "which means that we should be in the Telmarine castle – it's the only place still standing that would reasonably have a library."

Around them, the walls blurred, and the light, airy Narnian architecture began melting into rougher grey stone. But as the Words hadn’t specified anything, it didn't finish, and so they were left in an eyesore of confusion, with only the bookshelves and characters retaining any sharpness.

"Well, I'm glad we sorted that out," said Ketay, squinting at her pinkish arms and furry knees; "charge B-six for Tolkienverse: Changing timelines or characters’ ages without cause."

No one but Sedri heard her, of course, but in the meantime, the fairly short (but still present-tense-ridden) paragraph ended, and time and the conversation continued.

"Is there no other way?" Edmund asked already feeling sorry for her sister.

Pronouns are interesting things. As this innocent-looking one took effect, King Edmund the Just suddenly became Queen Edmund the Just, complete with a crown of flowers and a long silky dress, similar to those worn by his – sorry, her – sisters. Sedri laughed. "You don't have a camera, do you?"

Ketay shook her head, no, and listened as Peter lamented that there was no other way; they had "bartered" – not sold – all their treasures to fund the war, and somehow Susan was completely unaware of it.

"Queen Susan is not a pretty ornament on the throne of her brothers," said Ketay evenly as she began to write her own notes; "she would be well aware of the economic state of her country. In fact, given that Peter and Edmund would probably have spent a lot of time on the battlefield lately, it's likely that she would have been the one running the country, and that includes overseeing their finances."

"Hear, hear," agreed Sedri. "Of course, if this isn't the Golden Age, then why the hell are they in charge in the first place? Peter and Susan shouldn't even be here."

"No, none of them should. I suppose we'll find out."

As the scene went on, Peter was clearly miserable about the situation, which was at least fairly in-character; far too many badfics would have portrayed him as uncaring. Instead, all the siblings were downcast and resigned to marrying Susan off to the "king" of Mirkwood ("I thought it was Legolas," said Ketay, puzzled; "or have they made him king now?").

Susan then made a grand, dignified speech about doing what was best for her country, even trying to add a touch of humour for sake of her siblings.

"This isn't too bad," conceded Sedri. "I wouldn't call them in-character, but they're not really out of character, either. I might even try using this thing," she added, lifting the CAD.

"For now, I suggest you brace yourself again," said Ketay, shielding her head with her arms; "there's a scene break coming up."


A brief rain of heavy gravel dropped around them, scattering little "x"s and hyphens across the newly-polished floors of what the Words confirmed to be Cair Paravel. The blurry uncertainty faded, and the agents, still wobbling on their faun legs, were treated to a pleasant sight – the majestic castle, being cleaned by the dedicated Narnian staff as they prepared "to welcome a hundred elves for the betrothal soiree". Yes, the place was looking rather bare (in addition to cleaning, it also had to be furnished), but it was still Cair Paravel, and it was always pretty.

The scene smoothly settled itself in Susan's room, and the agents quietly walked in to see the Gentle Queen contemplating her reflection and, unfortunately, the too-short and too-low-cut dress they couldn't afford to replace and which she had obviously grown out of. Another stone "3" and a pair of awkwardly-inserted brackets hit the ground and Sedri, getting the hang of her goat legs, darted forward to pick them up before either Susan or Lucy (who was combing her sister's hair) could notice.

Ketay, who seemed to prefer reading the Words rather than waiting for the narration, said, "Apparently Mrs Beaver lived an extra thirteen hundred years just to become a seamstress. This fic is definitely distorting time; it's almost a crossover between Golden Age Narnia and Telmarine-Age Narnia."

"As if we didn't have enough to untangle," grumbled Sedri. "Also, why would there be a hundred elves coming to call just for a betrothal? I don't know if they ever travelled in groups that large."

"Regardless, we may have to return them to Mirkwood when we're done; I'm not sure if they'll fade back on their own."


The scene was fairly standard, mainly consisting of a fairly in-character Susan gently reassuring Lucy that she would be all right and that it was natural to be nervous before getting married. Sedri did risk using her CAD, and both sisters registered at about 17% OOC – not bad at all.

"Would you mind if we skipped ahead?" Ketay asked. "Aside from a few more numerals and Edmund becoming male again, nothing much happens until Legolas arrives."

Sedri nodded, digging out the remote activator, and a moment later the agents stepped into the ballroom, which was now filled with elves. Among them, the men were "staring at Susan kissing her hand too lingeringly" and the women were either disdainful or curious.

"That is not elvish behaviour," remarked Ketay, reaching for her notebook. Sedri didn't bother to do the same; the main drama was starting.

"May I introduce our king. King Legolas of Mirkwood." Said another elf who she heard was called Haldir.

"What's he doing there?" asked Sedri. "Haldir is from Lothlórien. He wouldn't be playing herald for Mirkwood."

Of course, minor details like that had to give way to the sweeping romance that was the focus this grand and epic saga. In other words, Haldir was forgotten completely as Susan mentally described her new fiancé. Legolas took her hand and greeted her with polite compliments, which would have been fine, except…

He did not lie for even living for almost 3000 years; he has never met such a beautiful girl that could burn his blood at the mere sight.

As the numerals dropped to the ground (and Sedri snatched them up – she was collecting), Ketay frowned again. Her faun-ish face didn't seem accustomed to it. "Elves are far more beautiful than humans, and have little interest in physical appearance regardless. Legolas would not act like this. That's the very first crime on the Tolkienverse charge list."

"And it looks like it's going to get worse," added Sedri, reading Susan's narration:

She hated the way the elf ogled her. It made her feel naked which was probably what the elf was thinking.

"That's cliché and slander, girl," scolded Ketay. "What's he done wrong? So far, he's been nothing but a perfect gentleman…"

"Scratch that," said Sedri; "now he's staring at her chest. At least Peter and Edmund have noticed."

Ketay just frowned.

Susan realized that he still held her hand. She tried to pull it away but the king instead tightened his grasp and said: "Now my dear. Why don't you tour me in your garden?"

"Tour him? What, to make sure he's a real elf? You mean 'take a tour of the gardens'."

Susan immediately knew that it was not wise to be left alone with the king for he can barely keep his hands to himself

Thankfully, this Susan clearly had more sense and strength than some other characters in badfics, and reminded the "lusty elf" that it was custom for them to dance together. Unfortunately for her, Legolas' eyes then "lit up at the prospect of holding her close".

"Look, it's Mr Tumnus," said Ketay, startled. "He's conducting the musicians."

"He should be dead. Or there should be no mentions of Caspian; this is definitely trying to be Golden Age. And since when does Tumnus lead an orchestra?"

"I doubt it knows what it's trying to be," replied Ketay, rubbing the bridge of her nose where a sharp ridge of bone should have been protruding; it was very strange, not feeling it there.

The scene went on predictably, with Susan's siblings watching closely while she and Legolas danced.

His height gave him a great view of her open neckline, and the elf wanted nothing but to crush the Narnian queen to his body. But sensing that it would shock the primly queen he opted to kiss instead her palm

"So now he's a considerate lusting beast?" scoffed Sedri. "Bah."

"The point of view keeps shifting," noted Ketay; "that bit had to be Legolas, but now Susan's imagining what it would be like to kiss him, and reminding herself that she loves Caspian – all in the same paragraph."

"You're joking. Imagining it? A moment ago she was afraid of and repulsed by him."

"Read for yourself."

Sedri rolled her eyes. "That was sarcasm. I believe you."

Looking genuinely puzzled, Ketay turned to her partner. "I know; I was being sarcastic in return. Wasn't it obvious?"

"Er… no. Sorry. You just sounded annoyed."

"Ah." Ketay considered this for a moment, keeping one eye on the dance floor where all the siblings were now dancing, but nothing too charge-worthy was taking place. "Have I been sounding annoyed all this time?"

"A little," admitted Sedri; "but it's okay – you're Cardassian; you guys like arguing. I know that much."

"Only when both parties are interested in a debate," replied Ketay, shaking her head. "When I want to argue, believe me, you'll know."

To her surprise, Sedri grinned. "Excellent."

Nodding, Ketay looked back to the scene. Legolas was still pushing for a tour of the gardens, and Susan was panicking under her poise as she argued that it was improper. His response? "In my kingdom I determine what is proper or not."

"Oh, ominous."

"Scene brea-"


"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Bloody gravel," muttered Sedri, shaking the stones from her hair.

"Are you hurt?"

"No, just pummelled. Grab that 'x' for me, will you?"

Ketay obliged, scooping up the little stone that had tumbled into the bushes of the garden, where this new scene was set. Some distance away, Legolas was pulling Susan from the building, out into the night.

"Peter's going to kill him," said Sedri, who had apparently been watching, too. She stood up, brushing off her fur.

"Did the report say how bad this gets?" asked Ketay.

"Not specifically, but given the rating… Ah. Well, there you go."

Legolas pulled her in his arms and with a groan pressed his lips of hers. Susan heard him say "finally" before his lips touched hers. Susan gasped surprised unable to react fast. Legolas took the opportunity to shove his tongue inside her mouth and tasted her, and swiftly deepened the kiss.

"Bastard. Where's my CAD?"

Ketay ignored her, glaring at the characters. "'Seldom is any tale told of deeds of lust among them'," she quoted. "Seldom. That means rarely. It does not mean that the average elf is struggling to contain as much lust as the average fanfic-writing teenager. Tolkien said outright that any bodily desires they have seldom sway their spirits. Unless you can convince me that Legolas has fallen deeply into spiritual love with Susan in one night, this breaks the rules of canon."

"It breaks the rules of canon," Sedri replied flatly, shaking her head and writing notes. "Even if he could've fallen in love, Legolas would never practically rape an eighteen-year-old Human queen, and- Oh, would you look at that; she kicked him. Good girl."

It did not hurt him but it certainly brought him to his senses as he pressed his lips on Susan's neck breathing raggedly.

"If it brought him to his senses, he would have let go of her immediately. Did your CAD work?"

Sedri regarded it warily, but took a reading.

[Legolas Thrandulion. Canon. OOC: 68.4%]

"Not a replacement yet," she sighed. To Ketay's odd look, she explained, "I'd love to kill him."

The other woman just raised her eyebrows and turned back to the scene. Legolas was apologising, fairly formally, and Susan was appropriately haughty about ordering a chaperone, but under the outward façade of almost being tolerable, the Words described how Susan thought "the kiss and even the groping were not entirely unpleasant", and she wasn't refusing to marry him.

"There's another scene break coming," said Sedri, who had chosen to read ahead this time. "Unless you'd rather be dizzy again…?" she offered the remote activator.

Ketay took it and programmed a portal.

They skipped a stretch of narrative-only babble in which Legolas "ordered the complete restoration of Cair Paravel" ("So it was in ruins?" asked Ketay. "Or is that supposed to refer to the upkeep they couldn't afford?"), Susan wondered what it would be like to marry an immortal ("Now that's an intelligent question, with profound implications for this pairing. It's a shame you don't actually explore it,") and then suddenly decided that her love for Caspian "was more brotherly now" ("Pshaw," scoffed Sedri. "Can we charge for breaking up a movieverse-only implied pairing?").

The setting that finally coalesced around them was Susan's bedroom, at night. She was dressing for bed and found a note from Caspian, asking her to meet him because he needed her advice.

"I smell trouble," muttered Sedri.

"It's particularly pungent," agreed Ketay.

Knowing Caspian, it was probably just to ask advice on how to win Arianna's heart.

"That must be the bit character; why wasn't she mentioned before?"

Thinking about that now no longer hurt her, so she supposed she is over her infatuation. Putting on a thick and long robe and thin slippers, Susan went out of room and ventured towards the garden taking a secret route.

"And the costume clinches it; we're in for trouble," Sedri sighed, hitching up her bag as the two agents scuttled after Susan, trying their best to be quiet. They arrived in the garden just in time to hear Susan call Caspian's name, and to see Legolas emerge from the greenery, furious.

"And who may I ask my dearest queen is Caspian?" he bit out.

"Don't you think you're overreacting a little?" asked Ketay. "For that matter, how can you not know? Caspian is supposed to be king right now. Or not here at all."

Standing up totally scared knowing how bad it looked, Susan pleaded: "It's not what you think it is. Please…"

"Oh, get a backbone," grumbled Sedri. "No, I take that back – find your own. You had it before."

She didn't, of course, and continued to plead while Legolas fumed, then began undressing her. Sensibly, Susan ran, but was caught and essentially accused of being a tease and a whore before…

Then clutching and lifting her bottom with both hands he lifted her off the ground and ordered: "Wrap your legs around my waist. Do it or I swear to Eru I'd let your lands perish."

"Oh hell. Blackmail? This is a new low."

"Any author who has read enough to know who Eru is has no excuse for making these kinds of mistakes," Ketay agreed, letting her eyes drift out of focus to read the Words as the scene got even worse. Sedri watched and scribbled notes. Then, thankfully–

"Caspian, I love you too." A female voice said then silence. Legolas stiffened and looked at Susan.

Still breathless she whispered: "That's Arianna. Caspian's love."

"And why couldn't you have said this earlier, you stupid girl?" hissed Sedri.

"Gratuitous angst and drama," replied her partner. "Do you want to kill the bit character now? She's not mentioned again."

"Just let me find my neuralyser; Caspian's with her. Ah!" Triumphant, she pulled it out. "Be right back."

Legolas and Susan remained still and silent while Arianna and Caspian walked away (trailed by a cheerful, knife-wielding faun), and only then did the elf "beat his lusts down" enough to release Susan, fix her clothes, and ask if she loved him.

Ketay sighed and shook her head. Some way behind her there was a thump and a flash of light lit up the trees and bushes. Sedri returned just as Legolas was finishing his paragraph full of sappy apologies, complete with hand-kissing.

"Did I miss anything?"

"Only foolishness."

She was mad. But she would be crazy not to marry the love of her life. He was the only one who could annoy her and make her knees melt in a heartbeat.

"And now we've seen everything. Do you still have your neuralyser ready?" asked Ketay. Sedri nodded and jerked her head towards the two (semi-)canon characters.

"Which one do you want? Or doesn't it matter?"

"I'll need to decontaminate Legolas before we portal him back," said Ketay, taking out some of her tools. "If you could hold him still after the effects wear off…?"

"Certainly. Ready?"

Ketay nodded.

In front of them, Legolas was desperately asking, "Would you still marry me tomorrow?" Susan had turned around, and was just about to open her mouth to say yes when a pair of fauns stumbled out of the nearby bushes and utterly ruined the romantic moment.

Much to their delight.

"Look at the shiny!" chirped Sedri, raising the neuralyser, and-


Both canons slumped, their faces blank, and Ketay addressed Susan directly; "Queen Susan of Narnia, you are taking a walk in the gardens of Cair Paravel. It is the Golden Age and you are not about to marry anyone. You don't know anyone named Caspian, or Legolas, and there is no kingdom called Mirkwood on any of your maps. Your brothers and sisters are waiting for you inside; you'd better meet them."

She gave Susan a little shove. The queen stumbled off, now dressed properly in a silk gown, because without her memory of the midnight tryst, there was nothing to keep her in an immodest nightgown. Satisfied, Ketay turned towards Legolas.

It seemed that Sedri was taking no chances; not only had she bound the elf with an excessive amount of rope, but she was sitting on him, pinning him down, and looking quite pleased with herself. "All yours," she said.

Ketay nodded and readied her Anachronism Detector, which took several minutes. Once the fussy little control box had been set with the world of origin, the character being checked, and the precise page in the books to which he was being sent (no mean feat, given how many pages there are in The Lord of the Rings), she waved the small metal wand over and around Legolas' body, checking for any objects or materials he couldn't be allowed to take back. There were a few; a roll of paper, some coins – things he could reasonably have been given or picked up while in Narnia.

By this time, of course, the paralysing effects of the neuralyser had worn off and the elf was watching them, wide eyed and more than a little frazzled. "It's okay, I promise," said Sedri, who'd had to climb off him so that Ketay could work. "Everything'll be fine."

Legolas flinched as the wand swept past his head one more time, but was rattled enough to obey. Ketay checked her readout.

"He's clean. We can send him home now."

As Sedri readied the portal, Ketay took out her neuralyser again.


"You are Legolas Thrandulion of Mirkwood. You are not a king and have never heard of a land called Narnia, nor of a Queen Susan. You do not lust after teenage Humans. Now, do you think you can walk through the glowing blue rectangle?"

Dazed, Legolas nodded, and Ketay stepped aside. Once he was through, Sedri shut off the portal. "So what about those hundred random elves – and Haldir? Will we have to send them all back one by one?"

Ketay was reading back over the Words, squinting as she looked through the gaps left by their recent untangling and the reassertion of canon. She shook her head. "We'll have to check, but I don't think so. Those elves were background characters; once Haldir is gone, I think they'll fade as well."

"That still leaves Caspian, though," said Sedri. "I'd better find him back."

"You didn't send him back to his own time already?"

"No, just dropped Arianna's body off in Harfang. He'll be safe enough around here for now. Oh, that reminds me – Harfang. The war that never was. Er… that should take care of itself too, right?"

Ketay nodded absently. "Yes, they only talked about it, and in past tense. The giants will be fine. But I'd like to check the treasury."

"You do that," said Sedri; "I'm going to find Caspian; if Haldir is the lynchpin for the elves, then I'm guessing sending Caspian home will take care of any random Telmarines. See you in the garden in… ten minutes?"

"I may need twenty."

"Twenty it is."

In fact, it only took Ketay about fifteen minutes to ferret out the treasury and confirm that the Kingdom of Narnia was not in any financial peril. Along the way she saw several random elves, and with a few polite requests was able to track down Haldir, whom she promptly neuralysed and sent home. When she told this to Sedri, meeting at their appointed place and time, the former assassin smiled. "Efficient! Good on you. Did you see any elves after that?"

"No, they're all gone. Were you able to track down Prince Caspian?"

"He's right back where he belongs, and when I asked Mrs Beaver on my way out, she said she's never seen a Telmarine in her life. That's good enough for me. Have we forgotten anything?"

Ketay paused to consider. "No… no, I don't think so. Shall we return to HQ?"

Already preparing the remove activator, Sedri nodded, then paused and shook her head. "You know what? It's weird. Usually my missions finish with a spurt of blood and a creative disposal. This seems all too… tidy."

Stepping back into the RC and resuming her normal, grey-skinned and black-haired look, Ketay raised a ridged eyebrow. "Tidy?"

"You know…" said the Human-again woman; "clean."

"I happen to like cleanliness," said Ketay, looking surprised and a little wary. "I'd heard that some assassins enjoy being covered in blood, but I didn't think it was true."

Sedri shook her head, unpacking her Bag and habitually stepping around piles of books that weren't actually there anymore. She looked quite silly. "That's not it. It just doesn't feel like the mission is complete without some sort of poetically-just death." She paused, contemplating that statement. "Maybe I really have been in the DMS too long."

"Maybe," replied Ketay neutrally. "But maybe you'll come to enjoy Untangling, too."

"Well, I hope so," replied Sedri, flopping down into a chair, "because if I've learned anything about the Laws of Narrative Comedy while working here-"


"…it's that there's no console like a dead console. Excuse me."