RC #1427: The Realm of Manx and Shadow

Mission Three:

A/N: Disclaimer: Brian Jacques owns Redwall. Skyfur owns “Ruggan in Love”. I am neither of them. The PPC is, once again, Jay and Acacia’s. Manx, Shadow, and the new recruit are all now mine. My own. My preciousss. Yes.

 

(By the way, this is set after the OFUR Redwall Purging Party. That is why M&S have their Urple Hearts. Yes.)

 

Mission Three: A Tale of Ruggan the Bore:

 

     BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPP!!!

 

     The console blasted its ear-splitting alarm into Response Center #1427.

 

     Ear-splitting, that is, if anyone had been in the room to hear it.

 

     The response center was empty, the only occupants two messy cots; an armchair almost invisible beneath piles of books; a sofa; a few chairs; the stuffed and mounted head of a unicorn; many weapons hanging on the walls; a mini-Deepcoiler in a small tank labeled USKARAT, sleeping like the dead; and what looked like the spawn of an enormous scorpion and a straight razor with “SWEENIE TODD” engraved on its ornate, chased-silver hilt, sitting on the couch. None of these had ears (although in HQ, who can tell?).

 

     The console was quiet as it sat in the corner of the room, giving off an air of disapproval in the way only large not-quite-computers can. Finally, it heaved an electronic sigh and beeped again.

 

     BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPP!!!!!

 

     Nothing answered, although the mini-Razor hopped off the couch and scuttled on many silvery legs to a small bowl full of what looked suspiciously like blood, leaning down and dipping the end of its hilt in it. Uskarat turned over in his sleep. The room was still.

 

     The console sighed in mechanical annoyance and beeped for the third time, this time louder than before.

 

     BEEEEEEEEPBLOODYBUGGERINGBUGGERINGBLOODYBEEEEEEPGETTHEHELLINHERENOWYOUMISERABLEAGENTSBEEEEEEEEEEEEE –

 

     And this time, the door burst open, revealing two girls, leaning on each other and belting out songs from the musical Sweeney Todd in rather off-key (but not all that bad, surprisingly) voices. Both had medals hanging from the front of their black shirts, an urple heart mounted on a wilver ribbon, and practically dragged heavy broadswords by their belts.

 

     Because, in all of the whole human race, Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two!” Shadow, the dark-haired Korean agent, warbled in a horrific Cockney accent, a bottle swinging from her right hand. Her left hand was occupied with holding a large chocolate bar, which she took a chomp from before reentering the song. “There’s the one staying put in his proper place!” Shadow shouted, spraying crumbs. “And the one with his foot in the other one’s face! Look at me, Mrs. Lovett, look at you! And we aaaaaaaall deseeeeeerve to diiiiiiie –”

 

     The console was puzzled. Even though it continued its long, profanity-laden BEEEEEEP!, the agents seemed completely oblivious. Not even the drunkest of agents could remain unheeding of its badfic-heralding cry. But as the agents in the doorway started staggering inside, it noted the Snerchmuffs covering their ears. That would also account for Shadow singing “Epiphany” while her partner Manx was plowing her drunken way through the reprise of “Johanna”.

 

     They would have continued on like this for a while if Manx had not noticed the light blinking red atop the console and the way the air shimmered from sound waves. Unsteadily, she crossed the room to the console and slammed her hand down on the Mute button. Pulling off the earmuffs, she muttered a curse and glared at the screen with glazed-over eyes.

 

     Within seconds, they had lost their dazedness and turned bright red. The homicidal agent clutched for a pillow.

 

     “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”

 

     Feathers rained from above.

 

     Then the Response Center was silent again except for Manx’s heavy breathing and Shadow, continuing her rendition of “Epiphany”.

 

     And not one man…no, nor ten men…nor a hundred…can assuage me…I WILL HAVE YOU!” she shouted, swiping her chocolate from side to side. “And I will get him back, even as he gloats! In the meantime, I’ll practice on dishonorable – huh?

 

     Manx had just pulled off her partner’s Snerchmuffs. “Shadow,” she whispered. “Be silent. Or I shall be tempted to unleash the fury of a Bloodwrathing teenager with a badger-made broadsword upon you, however sorry I might be afterwards.”

 

     Shadow shut up. Her partner had a dangerous gleam in her eyes that meant that someone was going to get killed. And Shadow had a pretty good idea who would.

 

     “It’s a Sue?” she asked, nodding at the console.

 

     “Yep,” Manx said softly.

 

     Shadow didn’t ask her to elaborate. The veins in her partner’s eyes and temples were throbbing ominously, and her hand was creeping to the dagger at her belt. Shadow quickly stepped away and read the report.

 

     A minute later, the scream was still echoing around the corridor outside RC #1427. Shadow stood before the console, wailing loudly and whacking her head against the computer.

 

     “DAMN YOU, NARRATIVE LAWS OF COMEDY! DAMN! YOU!!!” she screamed. THUNK, went her head against the console. “WHY?! WHY, I ASK YOU?! WHYYYYY?!”

 

     “Because these things bloody well happen, that’s why!” Manx yelled, thumping her partner over the head with her signed copy of Taggerung. “Now, shut up! We’re gonna have to kill this fic no matter what. It’s inevitable.” She stormed over to the racks of weapons on the walls, selecting a skinning knife, then went to the console to program their disguises. “Rat for me…ferret for you, I guess,” she muttered. “Right?” she asked Shadow, who nodded, stroking the longbow she had pulled from the racks on the walls.

 

     “Yep,” she answered, smiling slightly. “Oh boy. This will be fun.”

 

     “Don’t jump to conclusions that much,” Manx said absentmindedly. “She doesn’t look too bad, just mind-numbingly boring at parts and ridiculous urple prose. If she took the suggestions from the reviews, it would be so much better…Oh, well.” The portal opened. “She’s got some talent, at least. If only it wasn’t a Sue.” Manx stepped to the portal, hauling her broadsword behind her. At the last moment, she turned back, telling Shadow, “By the way, she’s got lavender eyes. You might want some Bleeprin to prevent flashbacks to ‘Celebrian’.”

 

     Shadow shuddered, and they stepped forward into Mossflower.

 

~*~

 

Rosebay Willowherb, known to all as Bay, was a member of the Order of the Eagle, that organization dedicated to the liberation of vermin from their 'evil' stereotype. It was by now such a large Order that once any vermin had deserted his or her horde, gang, army, whatever, and joined the Order, he or she was safe from the wrath of the vermin in charge of that horde. Nobeast would have been foolish enough to declare war against the Order of the Eagle, which claimed as allies both Redwall Abbey and Salamandastron.

 

     The Words swirled around the two agents as they adjusted to their new surroundings. Manx blinked as an undefined figure appeared before them, little more than a four-limbed lump of gray in the middle of a wide gray expanse of Undefined Space. “So that’s our Sue,” she muttered, and settled down with her partner, opening her laptop in preparation for a chargelist.

 

No, the hard part lay in getting the vermin to repent of their villainous ways, and in sneaking them away from the Warlords that ruled over them. It was only after they had officially been accepted by the Order that they were under its protection. Before that point, the going was dangerous.

 

     “Repent, ye sinners,” Shadow chanted ominously, waving her paws in the air. “Repent, I tell yew! Rhubarb, rhubarb! REPEEEEEENT!”

 

     Manx thwapped Shadow around the head and typed up the charge “forcing vermin to ‘convert’ when reformed vermin can take care of themselves without any nancing Sues, thanks a lot’.

Handling this was Bay's job as a Recruiter. More specifically, she was a Recruiter of the Rose,

     Manx and Shadow snerked.

a Roser

     They snerked harder.

for short. The Rosers were a tiny, selective group of young she-vermin who could think quickly on their paws and work behind enemy lines, often using feminine wiles for the greater good of the virtually enslaved vermin, although they were always careful not to cross the line and become mere temptresses. Many a rough vermin had joined the Order after falling in love with a Recruiter of the Rose.

     Manx sighed. “Guys – or, rather, girls – yew are temptresses. Yew run around tryin’ to make vermin ‘REFOOOORM’ by makin’ ‘em have th’ hots fer yew. Wiv a creed like ‘usin’ feminine wiles’, o’ ‘course you ain’t temptresses.” She snorted. “Riiiiight.”

     The story went on to explain that to become a “Roser” you had to go through tough, dangerous tests (“Prolly just shaggin’ some’un,” Shadow muttered) that, of course, the Sue just breezed through. And, of course, she was the best at her job. Of course. Otherwise, she just wouldn’t be a Sue, would she?

     Then the lavender eyes appeared on the Sue.

     “Mnaaaunahhhnauumnhhaam,” Shadow moaned, rolling on the ground. Manx shook some Bleeprin into her partner’s open mouth, making her quiet down somewhat, as the first chapter began.

     “Ain’t it jes’ great startin’ off a chapter wiv a charge?” Manx muttered, poking at the keyboard with her claws. “Charge…fer…annoying…redundancy…” she said under her breath. “Lady, impassive means ‘completely emotionless’. There ain’t no other meanin’. So sayin’ ‘so impassive as t’ appear completely emotionless’ is practic’lly like sayin’ ‘so big as t’ be completely huge’.”

     Shadow pulled herself off the ground, now recovered. She glared at the Words. “Ain’t amethysts a diff’rent shade o’ purple than…lavender?” Shadow shuddered at the mention of the Forbidden Color.

     “Guess so,” Manx replied. “Charge, I guess. And…eugh. She’s a better swordsmaid ’n Ruggan Bor? Ferget about it.” She typed up the charge.

     The two agents watched the foxes fight with sabers, sitting in nearly-bored silence for a while. Finally, Ruggan gained the upper paw, pinning Bay to the ground with his weight.

     Unbeknownst to him, in the underbrush Shadow began chanting softly, “Yeah! Yeah! Kill ‘er, Ruggan! Kill ‘er! Kill ‘er, Ruggan, kill ‘er! Kill ‘er, Ruggan –”

     “Shaddup,” Manx said, poking her. “He ain’t gonna kill ‘er. An’ that is what is known as ‘jes’ plain stewpid’. Yew jes’ don’t do that. When y’got some’un pinned down who’s jes’ attacked yew, y’ kill ‘em. Or knock ‘em out. Plain as that. And yew most def’nitely don’t do…”

As though it were the most natural thing in the world, helpless to stop himself, hardly knowing what he was doing, the Lord of the South Coasts kissed her as they lay sprawled on the grass. His grip on her became a clumsy caress.

     “…that,” Manx finished with a wince. “Eurgh, and that’s jes’ impossible,” she added. “How kin two foxes – both wiv long snouts – an’ teeth, sharp teeth – kiss each other?”

     “’Specially when one of ‘em wasn’t even prop’ly expectin’ it?” Shadow added. “I mean, not that I ‘ave any real ‘sperience in this matter –” Manx sniggered – “but even when both of ‘em do expect it, I’d think they’d spend a bit o’ time wonderin’ what t’ do wiv their noses, or snouts, or muzzles, or whatever. I mean, if they’re inexperienced, at least, as I expect they are…Miss Rosebay Chaste-Chaste-Not-A-Temptress-At-All Willow-Freakin’-’Erb.” Manx snickered. “Completely agree,” she replied.

     The two watched Bay stand behind a tree and berate herself over the whole incident, calling herself one of the temptresses that she hated and slapping her own face several times.

     Manx rolled her eyes. “Ah, c’mon, Sue. Live wiv it. Yew. Are. A. Temptress. So stop beatin’ yourself up over it, ‘cause that’s. Wot. Yew. Are,” she hissed. “Oh, an’ Ruggan ain’t that stewpid. ‘E wouldn’t think ‘e was hit ‘n th’ ‘ead durin’ the battle t’ explain away ‘is little kissin’ incident.”

     “Then again, ‘e did go ahead wiv th’ kissin’ anyway, so I s’pose he’s completely replaced by now,” Shadow mused. “D’you think it’s a replacement?”

     “Prob’ly. Hoo boy – total character replacement in jes’ the firs’ chapter. Wonderful.” Manx’s claws clattered on the keyboard.

Ruggan had impressive amounts of self control.

     “Nah, dearie, that’s wot we’d call ‘stupidity’ or ‘lack o’ self-control’,” Manx snapped.

He soon managed to drive the entire incident more or less out of his mind.

     “Charge fer makin’ Ruggan Bor an idiotic woobie ‘oo’d completely ferget ‘bout any embarrassment done t’ him,” Shadow muttered, taking the computer from Manx and typing up the charge. “Stewpid thing.” On an impulse, she pulled out her Character Analysis Device and pointed it at Ruggan, who was now being attacked by three undescribed clanbeasts.

     BEEEEEEEEEPPP!!! RUGGAN BORE, MALE FOX, REPLACEMENT STU, TERMINATE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!! BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPITYBEEPITYBEEPBEEPBEEEEEEEP MR JELLY CANNONBALL KITTY CAT NAMED STICK FRED!!1!11! BOONZAYAH BLEEP ELEPHANT BANANA GLOOOOOSH OUT OF CHEESE ERROR – fizz – fizz – sppt –

     The CAD died with a sputter, clouds of steam issuing from under its casing. Shadow dropped it hurriedly, blowing on her hand. “OW!” she hissed, rubbing on it and trying to keep quiet. “Bloody bloody buggery…aw, come on.” If looks were weapons, the glare Shadow was giving the Sue (who had just stepped out of nowhere, preparing to heal Ruggan Bore [spelling intentional]) would’ve been banned by international treaty. “Okay, wot th’ ‘ell? She likes ‘im…an’ yet she jes’ goes an’ sits back while ‘e gets worked over by three other beasts? Wot the buggery?

     “Okay, I’m chargin’ fer another count o’ ‘unnecessary stupidity’,” Manx snarled, stabbing the keyboard with her claws with more than necessary force. “If yew’re so brilliant, why can’t yew figger out that if yew wanna get somebeast on yer side, yew might wanna consider rescuin’ ‘im? From grievous bodily ‘arm?”

     Shadow growled approval, adding, “An’ why th’ ‘ell is ‘e jes’ lyin’ back an’ lettin’ some’un ‘oo’s jes’ previously attacked ‘im dress ‘is wounds? The wounds that ‘e could’ve escaped, but didn’t, thanks ter some stuck-up – prissy – little nancing self-righteous SUE – ‘oo ‘e’s jes’ made ‘is pers’nal healer –” Shadow punctuated each snarling word by stabbing an arrow into the ground. “Miserable – stinkin’ – bitch –”

     Suddenly, she heard hysterical laughter and a loud thumping. Shadow looked up and saw her partner lying on the ground, striking her clenched paw against the ground and laughing uproariously.

     “Wot?” Shadow asked, wondering what the whole fuss was about. Manx just pointed to a section of the Words and collapsed into fits of laughter again.

Step two would be getting him to kiss her again. It was important that he must do it, not her, because otherwise she wouldn't be able to reject his advances. In planning to do this, she was making a point. It was vital that he regard her as unattainable: she was not a temptress: she was a Recruiter of the Rose: there was a big difference.

     Shadow gaped, then began giggling hysterically. “Oh, yes!” she proclaimed, flapping her paws about and snickering madly. “O’ course, I’m not a temptress at all! I jes’ need ‘im ter kiss me! Not fer me t’ kiss ‘im, fer ‘im t’ kiss me after I make ‘im lust after me, so I kin succeed in my long-lastin’ quest t’ get inter his pants fer the common good! ‘Course I’m not a temptress! Temptresses jes’ make malebeasts drool over ‘em and make ‘em do what they want, while I do it fer th’ COMMON GOOD! Yeah, RIGHT, yew idiot!”

     While Shadow ranted, the fic had gone on, switching scenes madly. The world spun around the two agents as Indeterminate Time flashed by. Suddenly, the two were in a tent, while Ruggan Bor engaged in a Sappy Moment™ with the Sue. As Bay placed a paw on his cheek, the agents stuck out their tongues and “gak”ed nearly simultaneously. “Ecch,” Manx muttered as the third chapter began.

     Bay disappeared, and half a season flashed by in just a second, flinging the agents on the ground as wind whirled about their heads. Abruptly, it was nighttime, and Ruggan sat in his tent, angsting over his obsession with Bay.

"Why not?" He was saying, "Why shouldn't I? It's what I want, more than anything. The problem is I don't know what she wants. Why don't I try? Then I'll know, at last." Ruggan paused and ran a rough paw through his headfur, his hard golden eyes fixed on the ground. He resumed, "The only thing that's kept me away for so long is fear that she'll never act as freely around me again. She might even be offended and never speak to me any more if she knows how I feel. I'd lose her—I couldn't stand that—I just couldn't. I can't risk it. But oh—Bay!" This last word was uttered with a deep intensity Ruggan had never used before.

     Manx blinked. Ruggan-Stu’s eyes had just turned into balls of shining gold. Then she noticed the Words and sighed. “This is gettin’ boring. Y’know, this author could make a good livin’ writin’ romance novels for Mill and Boons. ‘S nearly th’ same style, anyway – although at points it does get a bit better. You ‘ave ter admit, ‘s slightly original, in this fandom at least.”

     “True, that.” Shadow lay back on her backpack, wincing at the prose, which was quickly growing urpler and urpler. “Jeez. Someone needs t’ steal ‘er dictionary.”

     They watched as Ruggan left his tent, charged into Bay’s, and promptly kissed her. Unsurprisingly, Bay kissed back. Manx grimaced. “Charge fer makin’ out wiv a warlord yew previously described as ‘impassive’ and ‘oo was never shown t’ be lusty in th’ first place.” She glanced at the Words, then winced. “An’ fer makin’ him a lovestruck idjit. Jeez.”

Over the last season, five of her agents had joined the ranks of the Juskabor one by one. They had, very carefully and secretively, been scouting out possible new recruits for the Order of the Eagle, while she distracted Ruggan. Now she had to organize with their spokesbeast, a black fox, a night when they would all escape the horde; but not her. She would stay 'till the morning after, and when they were safely far away she would confess everything to Ruggan and plead with him to join the Order too.

     “An’ then ‘e’ll realize wot a bitch she is an’ kill ‘er?” Shadow asked hopefully.

     “No such luck,” Manx answered. She pointed at the Words.

Ruggan would have done anything to keep from losing her: she was the most important thing in his life. Treasure and power no longer meant anything to him—they just left him feeling empty. He had never realized just how barren and cold his life had been before he'd met her.

     Shadow gaped. “…YEW DID NOT JES’ MAKE RUGGAN BOR INTER A FRICKIN’ HORRIBLE URPLE-MOUTHED WOOBIE.”

     “Oh yes. She did,” Manx hissed. “Fail, Sue. EPIC FAIL.” She typed the charge.

Over the next few weeks the sharp-eyed Ruggan noticed her spending quite a lot of time with a certain black fox. They were always going off alone, talking. Ruggan would watch with dark jealousy. When he asked Bay about him she never gave him proper answers, which just made him more suspicious. Bay knew this, but since he was being suspicious in a way that didn't interfere with her plans, she saw no reason to stop it. Besides, it was amusing to see how casually he would bring up the back fox's name in conversation, how he would invent ingenious excuses to keep them apart, and how flushed and anxious he would get whenever he spotted her talking to the other fox, which was happening more and more often.

     Manx brought her paws down on the keyboard. “Aaaaaand wiv bein’ a jealous bastard ‘oo’d put Judge Turpin ter shame!” she muttered, typing furiously.

The night the black fox, the other agents, and the score or so of vermin they had found willing to come, were planning to escape the camp, Bay managed to give her constant companion Ruggan the slip for a minute or two. She and the black fox, whose name was Wolfsbane, met by the fringes of the forest and conversed earnestly.

     “Yadda, yadda, yadda. Blah, blah, blah. This. Is. So. Boring,” Shadow moaned, whacking her head against the ground. Then she looked up.

Troubled, Bay replied, "I've done what I thought was right. A score of beasts will change from cut-throat murderers to honest citizens tomorrow because of my actions."

     Manx gaped.

     Then she started laughing hysterically.

     “BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAH!!! She seriously thinks that? She seriously imagines that twenty vermin can jes’ up an’ get CHANGED, MAMA, I CAN CHANGE ‘IM?! Jes’ like that?!” Manx rolled over, still giggling madly. “Aw, please. There were only…one, two, three, four…yeah, four vermin ‘oo actually reformed in th’ actual books. An’ Veil was more ‘r less a brat fer th’ entire book, so yeah. An’ the thing is, once yew start bein’ a ‘cut-throat murderer’, yew can’t really ever jes’ flip back ‘n’ convert like yew’re some sorta ping-pong ball.”

     “Well, wot ‘bout Romsca?” Shadow asked. “She couldn’t’ve gotten ter th’ level o’ respect she ‘ad wivvout killin’ a’ least somethin’. An’ even Blaggut might’a killed a’ one point ‘r ‘nother. Or that beast from Triss.

     “That’s different. One, Romsca turned good-ish of ‘er own free will. Same wiv Blaggut. They didn’t need any sparklin’ Mary Sues nancin’ ‘round tellin’ them t’ ‘REPEEEEENT, REPEEEEENT’.” Manx waved her paws in the air. “An’ – aw, shit.”

Bay shook her head determinedly. "Well, I can't just run off in the middle of the night. I have to explain it to him. And imagine if I did manage to convert him! The entire clan would be liberated instead of just a score of them."

     “One, they don’t need liberatin’. Liberatin’ requires there t’ be summat t’ liberate from,” Manx hissed. “Two, lissen – they were raised like this. They don’t know nothin’ else. They don’t want nothin’ else. They mos’ def’nitely don’t want some bright ‘n’ chipper little Sues tryin’ ter make ‘em see th’ error of their ways.” She glanced at the Words and winced. “Unlike some o’ these idiotic bit-characters.”

Wolfsbane studied her worriedly. He cared for the purple-eyes vixen, for she had, seasons ago, converted him and saved him from a life as a heartless corsair.

     Shadow thudded her head against the wall. “Nononononoooo,” she moaned. “Not listening. Not listening.”

They hugged goodbye, he rocking her back and forth to show his concern for her.

At that point Ruggan, who had, unbeknownst to them, been standing close enough to see, but not enough to hear, saw his beloved Bay being cradled by the black fox he now loathed more than anything. He charged in, wrenching Wolfsbane away from her and beating him savagely with tooth and claw. Bay bravely pushed herself between them, blocking Ruggan from his intended victim. The clanbeasts looked on in amazement and terror, having never seen their Warlord this angry before.

     “Or this Sued. Or this stewpid,” Manx muttered. “Another count o’ bein’ a jealous bastard. Whoopee.”

     Ruggan-Stu stormed into his tent, engaging in an Angry Loving Reassuring Conversation™ with Bay. After only a few sentences, Bay convinced him that she loved him more than anyone else (Manx and Shadow grimaced) and kissed him. Again. Then an entire night passed in just a sentence, leaving the agents flat on the floor as a fade-to-black implied sex scene took place. “Ooo-kay,” Manx muttered. “Charge fer havin’ sex wiv each other?”

     “Got it,” Shadow answered. “Eurgh. An’ proposin’ marriage. Well, proposin’ matin’, at least.”

     “Wonderful,” Manx said under her breath, skimming the Words ahead. “Um…long, pointless, melodramatic speech up ahead. Should we portal t’ where ‘e goes off an’ becomes a hermit in Mossflower?”

     “Yeah, sure,” Shadow replied. She began to set up the portal. “Oh, an’ charge fer ‘unusual eloquence fer a vermin commander’ ‘n’ ‘anachronistic vocabulary’,” she added. “I doubt they used ‘patsies’ in that way in medieval England.”

     “Two charges, comin’ right up!” Manx announced, typed them up on her laptop, and stepped through into the portal.

     They arrived at an Unspecified Location™ “miles to the South” with Ruggan Bore lying under a tree, wallowing in a nearly physical puddle of angst and self-pity. Manx rolled her eyes. “Boooooring,” she muttered. “Kin we kill ‘im now?”

     “Wait ‘til th’ bit character shows up,” Shadow answered. “We kin kill ‘em both then.” Manx nodded, grinning evilly.

     The birds of the forest were intrigued by the strange sun-colored earth-crawler who lay beneath the tree. Killclaw, a diminutive sparrow despite his fearsome name, was for once in his life the center of attention, for it was his tree the long-tailed earth-crawler lay under. Birds love to gossip incessantly: they came, of all different species, to hear Killclaw wax poetic about the strangebeast.

     “An’ thaaaaaat makes no sense at all,” Manx muttered. “The birds in Mossflower do not act like that. At all. Seriously.”

The dark fox Wolfsbane was on duty, trying to convince a crow to just consider joining the Order, when the bird puffed out his feathers and cried that he would never degrade himself by joining the ranks of earth-crawlers—they were, he claimed, all as insane as the crazy-beast he'd heard of.

     “Y’know wot this Order r’minds me of?” Shadow asked Manx.

     “Dunno. Wot?”

     “Door-to-door fundamentalists.”

     Manx blinked. “’Ey, yeah…”

     “I swear. All they need is some explanatory pamphlets ‘n’ catchy songs t’ sing an’ they’re practic’lly the Omnians,” Shadow said, snickering.

     Manx grinned at the image of Constable Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets in mouse form, distributing his papers amongst the vermin. “Constable Visit’d ‘ave a field day.”

     Wolfsbane followed the crow’s directions to the “crazy-beast” and came upon Ruggan after three days. He quickly managed to nurse the Stu back to health, but found that Ruggan-Stu was pretty much catatonic. Shadow skimmed the story online.

     “M’kay…stuff ‘appens, Ruggan snaps outta it, then gets d’rections t’ ‘Eagle Island’.” Shadow winced at the uncanonical name. “We kin nab ‘im then.”

     Awesome,” Manx replied, rubbing her paws together. She tapped the hilt of her broadsword in grim anticipation.

     The agents sat in boredom as Wolfsbane tried to convince Ruggan what he seriously should have realized a chapter ago: Bay truly loved him. Manx and Shadow rolled their eyes.

Ruggan turned and stared at the impudent fox with his golden eyes.

     Ruggan-Stu’s eyes popped out, flying across to stick to Wolfsbane’s chest. Shadow grimaced. “Ewww. Magnetic golden eyeballs.”

     That wasn’t all. Within the next few sentences, the fire in his eyes kindled back to life, until they were blazing in a glory of gold.

     The golden eyeballs stuck to Wolfsbane’s body promptly burst into flame.

     Manx burst out laughing.

     Shadow looked at them thoughtfully. “’Ey, Manx. D’yew think that we kin keep ‘em? Seein’ as ‘e won’t need ‘em in th’ afterlife?”

     “S’pose so,” Manx replied. “They’d be pretty cool trophies, anyway.”

He made to cuff Ruggan again, but a golden paw shot up and caught his arm in an unshakeable grip. And Ruggan Bor fixed him with eyes that stuck fear into even Wolfsbane's bold heart. "Nobeast," said Ruggan firmly, "strikes Ruggan Bor!"

     Manx swiftly stood up. “Quick quick quick, now’s th’ time! Get ‘im!”

The dark fox laughed in relief. "Good to have you back, Ruggan!"

     “Oh, ‘e ain’t back. Not by a long stretch.”

     Wolfsbane turned around in surprise. Two young female vermin stood behind him, one a rat, the other a ferret. Both wore wicked expressions and held weaponry: the rat carried a skinning knife and a broadsword, while the ferret held a bow with an arrow strung. The two looked ready to use them.

     The black fox lifted his paws soothingly, stepping backwards. “Now, maids, what do you want?” he asked carefully. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ruggan edging towards his saber propped up against the tree.

     The rat grinned. “Wolfsbane, also known as Gary Stu, I charge yew wiv bein’ a Gary Stu,” she said. “Wiv bein’ an annoyin’ bit-character, wiv bein’ a member of an organization wiv a stewpid name that tries to ‘reform’ vermin, wiv managin’ to get CONVERTED an’ REFORMED from bein’ a ‘heartless corsair’, an’ wiv aidin’ an’ abettin’ a Mary Sue ‘n’ a Gary Stu.” She bared her teeth in a vicious smile. “You shall die now.”

     Wolfsbane didn’t even have time to blink before the ferret’s arrow was protruding from between his eyes. He fell back.

     Ruggan sprang up, but Shadow had an arrow nocked to the string almost instantly and pointed it at the Stu. “Don’t even think about it,” she hissed. “Okay. Ruggan Bore, also known as Gary Stu, we charge yew wiv bein’ a Gary Stu, wiv replacin’ Ruggan Bor an’ hidin’ ‘im someplace, wiv impersonatin’ Ruggan really badly, wiv bein’ unusually stewpid, wiv bein’ so stunning as t’ make nearly every female in th’ vicinity fall over wiv lust, wiv givin’ yourself in hideously urple descriptions, wiv recitin’ yer titles at every turn, wiv bein’ a lovestruck drooling idiot, wiv randomly kissin’ somebeast ‘oo’s jes’ attacked yew, wiv bein’ an idiotic woobie ‘oo’d jes’ go an’ ferget any embarrassment done t’ ‘im, wiv makin’ a Sue yer pers’nal healer, wiv bein’ more urplemouthed than even Legolas at ‘is most Stued, wiv fallin’ in love wiv ‘er, wiv havin’ SEX wiv ‘er, wiv bein’ unusually eloquent fer a vermin commander, wiv bein’ ridiculously melodramatic, wiv usin’ anachronistic vocabulary, wiv goin’ catatonic ‘cause o’ that stewpid Sue, an’ wiv havin’ flaming golden detachable eyes –” Manx bent down, wrapped her mini-Balrog-proof gloves around her paws, and plucked the two flaming orbs from Wolfsbane’s body. Pulling off one glove, she slipped the eyeballs inside it and placed it in her backpack. Shadow grinned and continued. “For these charges, we sentence you to death. Bye-bye!” She released the string and sent the arrow whizzing into Ruggan-Stu’s brain. He keeled over.

     Manx picked up the saber leaning against the tree and whipped it through the air a couple of times. “Cool,” she breathed. “Let’s keep it!”

     “M’kay, sure. Jes’ make sure the real Ruggan ‘as ‘is own saber when we dig ‘im outta th’ plothole,” Shadow answered, grunting a little as she hauled the two bodies through a small portal into their Response Center. “Speakin’ o’ which – where d’you think Ruggan’d be hidden?”

     “I s’pose th’ little bit o’ forest ‘e was walkin’ through when ‘e met up wiv th’ Sue. Portal?”

     The glowing blue doorway hummed open. “Yeah, sure,” Shadow said. “C’mon!”

     They walked through, entering a different part of Mossflower Forest. A large plothole shimmered slightly on the riverbank. Manx knelt down and pulled a book from her pack – her signed copy of Taggerung. She waved it at the plothole, which shrunk back. Grinning, Manx plunged her paw, still holding the book, into the plothole, which almost immediately curled up and dissipated, leaving Manx with a large golden fox lying on the ground looking confused.

     “What in Hellgates is going on?!” he shouted. His paw groped for the saber that usually hung at his side, but was now not there. Ruggan Bor spun around and saw his saber held by a young female rat with a wide grin. “Give. Me. That,” he hissed.

     “Would you like to know exactly how you got in there, my lord?” Shadow asked, adopting a rather deferential mode. She grinned inwardly as she saw the fox’s face flicker between different expressions of horror, astonishment, and fury. His paws clenched.

     “I…remember…there was a vixen…and she attacked me…and then I had her pinned…and then…” His face darkened. “How much did you see?” he asked the two agents.

     “Enough to realize how horrible she was, my lord,” Shadow said soothingly. “She replaced you with an imposter.”

     “An imposter…” You could practically hear the thunder radiating from Ruggan Bor’s face.

     “Yes. But we took care of him.”

     Manx took a blue flashlight from her backpack. Lighting it under her chin, she waved her other paw and spoke ominously. “An’ in place o’ a truer Ruggan yew would ‘ave a BORE! More urplemouthed than Legolas at ‘is most Sued! More borin’ than a first-period math class! More terrible than a Mill ‘n’ Boons romance novel!” Manx spread her paws wide. “ALL SHALL HATE ‘IM AN’ DESPAAAAAIR!”

     Shadow poked Manx hard in the side. “Manx, shaddup! Um. Well, my lord…th’ one ‘oo hid yew away is on th’ ‘Eagle’s Island’. Yew kin kill ‘er there.”

     “Where?” The fury was barely evident in Ruggan’s voice. “Tell me where she is and I’ll –”

     “Jes’ step through ‘ere,” Manx said, pointing to a portal. Seeing his apprehensive stare, she added, “Don’t worry, ‘s safe. I’ll go through first, ‘kay?” Without waiting for an answer, she stepped through, followed by Shadow and then Ruggan.

     It was in a small clearing surrounded by rosebushes that the agents found themselves in, watching a young fox named Redfleck make what the author probably thought of as “lecherous” advances towards Bay. Manx sighed and rolled her eyes. “’Kay. Ruggan, go for it.” The golden fox strode forward, rage in his eyes and his saber in his paw.

"Nay, it's not just your face. It's your body too," he grinned. He put his paw around her waist to hold her still as he slid the rose behind her ear, since she wouldn't do it herself.

The beautiful lavender eyes narrowed dangerously. "Let go of me. Now."

A deathly cold voice spoke to their right. It was a steady voice, a voice as deliberate as doom, a calm voice that could easily become fatal, a voice that had rung out often over the clamor of battle, a voice that sent waves of fear down Redfleck's spine and thrills down Bay's, a voice that commanded: "Take. Your. Paws. Off. Her."

     It was Ruggan Bor. Really Ruggan Bor. There was no doubt. It could have been nobeast but him, standing like the God of War, saber gleaming in one paw, striding forward with an unusually furious glint in his eye.

     Bay was slightly unnerved by the rage in his expression, but put it down to righteous fury against Redfleck. She gasped. “Oh, Ruggan, baby, you’re here!”

     “…I want to kill her myself.” He grabbed her, raising his saber high. “This will not be over quickly,” he hissed. “You will not enjoy it. I am not your lover.”

     “But, Ruggan, what – AAAAAAAUGH!”

     The rest of her sentence was lost in a medley of frantic screams as Ruggan did something extremely nasty. Manx grinned and promptly began reading off the chargelist.

     “Rosebay Willowherb, also known as Bay, also known as Mary Sue, we charge yew wiv being a Mary Sue, wiv bein’ so when showin’ yew ‘ave th’ writin’ talent NOT to, wiv bein’ incredibly boring, wiv usin’ incredibly urple prose, wiv so many counts o’ unnecessary stupidity we completely fergot, wiv creatin’ an organization wiv a ridiculous name that also mucks wiv Marlfox canon, wiv forcin’ vermin t’ ‘convert’ when reformed vermin kin take care of themselves wivvout any nancing Sues, thanks a lot, an’ when said vermin’re basically bein’ PRESS-GANGED, wiv bein’ a ‘Recruiter o’ th’ Rose’, a.k.a. a ‘Roser’, wiv denyin’ th’ fact that yew ARE a temptress while there’s SO MUCH BLEEDIN’ PROOF THAT YEW ARE, wiv bein’ perfect at bein’ a ‘Roser’ at a really young age, wiv havin’ lavender eyes, wiv bein’ redundant, wiv bein’ better at swordfightin’ than Ruggan Bor, wiv makin’ ‘im KISS yew – one, that’s kinda impossible considerin’ th’ fact that yew are both foxes, and two, YOU JES’ ATTACKED ‘IM –”

     “No! No, please, baby, NOOOOAAAAUGHAAAAGH!!!”

     “– wiv replacin’ Ruggan Bor wiv a Stu named Ruggan Bore, ‘oo we’ve jes’ killed, wiv coverin’ up yer wish t’ get inter Ruggan’s pants wiv ‘It’s fer the greater good!’, wiv makin’ Ruggan really, REALLY stewpid idiotic woobie ‘oo’d completely ferget ‘bout any embarrassment done t’ ‘im, wiv breakin’ inter first person perspective at random times, wiv makin’ ‘im make yew ‘is pers’nal healer AN’ ‘is best friend, wiv makin’ ‘im a droolin’ lusty idiot, wiv gettin’ ‘im ter kiss yew AGAIN, wiv fallin’ in love wiv Ruggan Bor – keep in mind that ‘e’s a FREAKIN’ WARLORD AN’ KILLED A FREAKIN’ LOTTA PEOPLE COMPLETELY ‘EARTLESSLY –”

     “AAAAAAAUGHPLEASEPLEASEPLEASELOVEOFGODNOOOOO!!!”

     “– wiv makin’ ‘im a jealous bastard ‘oo’d put Judge Turpin t’ shame, wiv havin’ SEX wiv ‘im, wiv havin’ a hideously urple mouth, an’ wiv usin’ anachronistic vocabulary. We sentence yew t’ death, which seems to ‘ave already been taken care of…thanks, Ruggan,” she said, glancing at the mangled corpse that slipped, blood-slicked, from the fox’s paws. Then she looked up at the red fox bit-character that stood, gaping in absolute astonishment. “Should we kill ‘im, too?” she muttered in Shadow’s ear.

     “Nah. I mean, ‘e ‘asn’t done anything t’ warrant killin’. Recruit?”

     “Sure!” Manx nodded, then blinked. “Which reminds me…” She bent down and fiddled with the portal generator again, stepping through the portal that appeared.

     “Where’re yew goin’?” Shadow shouted.

     “Killin’ th’ ferret! Th’ head o’ th’ Order!” Manx shouted back, then the portal hummed shut.

     Shadow sighed. “All th’ other stuff gets left t’ me, as usual,” she muttered, then shouted, “’Ey, Ruggan! Over ‘ere!”

     “What –”

     FLASH. Shadow pushed him through a portal to his camp, muttering, “This never ‘appened, ‘kay? Go, go, go…” Then she turned to the other fox.

     The bit-character – Redfleck, was it? – was shaking all over. “What…just…happened?” he asked carefully.

     “Oh.” Shadow blinked. “Well, see, it’s like this…c’mon…”

     Carefully sitting down next to him, she began to explain.

~*~

Larch sat at her desk, wishing she could be outside with all the other beasts who were enjoying the warmth of the afternoon. However, as the esteemed leader of the Order, she had a lot of paperwork to do, especially organizing the latest recruits' files. The best she could do was open the window to let herself enjoy the weather a little too.

     For what, it would seem, the last time of her life.

     A cord suddenly tightened around her throat. She gagged as Manx garroted her, hissing in her ear, “Larch, also known as Mary Sue, I charge yew wiv bein’ a Mary Sue, wiv bein’ an annoyin’ bit-character, wiv aidin’ an’ abettin’ a Mary-Sue, wiv bein’ the leader of an organization wiv a stewpid name that tries to make vermin change their ways, an’ wiv usin’ anachronistic language. You shall now die.” Manx twisted her paws to the side, cracking Larch’s neck. “Thank yew.” She stood, then dragged the body through a portal to her Response Center. Now, what to do about the island itself…

~*~

     “…so we ‘ave ter exterminate th’ Sues from the canon. Capiche?” Shadow asked, then amended, “I mean, yew got it?”

     Redfleck stared. “So…Bay was one of these…mah-ree sews?”

     “Mary Sues. Yeah.”

     “And that was why you had to kill her? Or get Ruggan to kill her?”

     “…Yeah.”

     “And you’re planning to get me to kill more things like her?”

     “Yup.”

     Redfleck blinked.

     “All right. Do I get paid?”

     “…No. Sorta. No. Sometimes.”

     Redfleck folded his arms. “Then why should I join?”

     “Well, one, this story’s gonna end soon. We’ll either ‘ave t’ neuralyze yew an’ stick yew in the canon, which is ferbidden an’ won’t work anyways, since yew ‘aven’t got any ‘sperience wiv Mossflower. Two, ‘s either that or we’ll ‘ave t’ kill yew.”

     “…I’m joining.”

     “Smart move, kid.”

     Shadow began to set up a portal to PPC HQ. “What should we call yew?” she asked.

     “Uh…Redfleck. It’s my name.”

     “No, no. Copyright issues. We can’t use yer real name ‘cause th’ author might get pissy.”

     “Er…Redd, I suppose. It’s close enough.”

     “Cool,” Shadow said vaguely. “I wonder ‘oo yew’ll be partnered with. I know Agent Jill’s a solo agent…”

     “Jill?” Redd asked. “She’s a ferret?”

     “Um, no…”

     They were interrupted by Manx popping in through a portal. “Guys! Shadow! Help!” she gasped. “This thing is really freakin’ ‘eavy!”

     Shadow grabbed the large wooden frame that appeared and hauled it through into the canon. When the dust had settled, Shadow blinked. “The Canon Catapult?”

     “Yeah.” Manx opened yet another portal to the shore of the Marlfoxes’ lake, rolled the catapult through, and closed it after Shadow and Redd followed her. She grinned. “M’kay. Shadow, will yew do th’ honors?”

     “My pleasure.” The ferret agent tripped the lever.

     Balls of pure canon sailed through the air, smashing against the island. Within seconds, the castle became its proper size and shape, the convenient gardens disappeared, and Manx and Shadow knew that all the vermin upon the island were being returned to their normal, canonical forms. It was a sight to warm a PPC agent’s heart.

     Manx typed in the coordinates to the Marquis de Sod’s office, then stepped through. She sighed in relief as the rat disguise was replaced by her human body, then looked up at the daisy sitting at “his” desk: the Director of Personnel. “Hello, sir,” she said.

     Agent Manx. Is there a reason for this disturbance?

     “Yeah. New recruit,” Manx replied. Shadow came through the portal with the dazed-looking Redd in tow. Almost immediately, seeing their human forms, Redd’s mouth dropped open as he gaped at them, then the Marquis, then back at the agents again. “See?”

     Yes. I see. The Marquis inclined its blossom the tiniest bit at the two agents. You may go.

     Taking into account the Flowers’ manner of speaking, Shadow promptly interpreted that as “leave now”, and prodded Manx. “Let’s go,” she muttered, and they left. As they walked out, they heard Redd say, “So what do you do, exactly?”

     Manx grinned. “’S gonna be awful for him, don’t you think?”

     “Definitely,” Shadow answered with a grin almost as wide as Manx’s, and the two of them walked on.

A/N: *punches air* WOOT! Five fics KILLED! BOO-YAH! *cough* Anyway…

Next is a horrible Sweeney Todd fic. It’s bad. Like, really bad. Yes.