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[personal profile] rc45
Title: Pathways
Author: skipgunner
Obligatory Linkage: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3780358/7/Pathways
Sporked by: [livejournal.com profile] agenttrojie and [livejournal.com profile] tea_fiend
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: We don't own the PPC, and we don't own Stargate. We definitely don't own Pathways, and if we ever owned Kithra-Sue it would only be for the half an hour it would take us to think of, and apply, a really creatively painful death. The Stupid Generator is the brainchild of [livejournal.com profile] synecdochic, and is used with permission. Technically contains spoilers for the movie 'Serenity' and for bits of SGA. Wash is the property of Joss Whedon. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cassie5squared for the beta.



May 2008 HST


'You smell,' said Trojie bluntly.

'This is news to me why?' asked Pads in a matter-of-fact voice, leaning back on her chair and lighting a cigarette. 'This complaint is hardly new.'

'I mean you smell really bad,' clarified Trojie. 'Not just of a wet dog that set a tobacco plantation on fire. You smell of unknowable primal oozes. You smell of volcanic extrusions. You smell of the noxious origins of life.'

'While your colourful language is appreciated, could you be a little more specific?'

'You smell of sulphur,' Trojie said exasperatedly, pointedly sticking her nose in the air. 'I think pinching Tolliver Groat's boots was a bad idea.'

'But they were the only candidate for the Boots of a Hard Boiled Egg,' said Pads reasonably, pointing to the nails on the wall from which the Boots of Truth (formerly the property of William de Worde) and Boots of Justice (formerly the property of Cmdr Samuel Vimes) hung by their laces.

The air did indeed have a suggestion of eggs to it.

'This is true, but even so, is it necessary to wear them?'

'I have to wear all of them, at least once. How else will I absorb their essence?'

Trojie pondered briefly her partner's sanity, decided that it probably had hidden somewhere for its own good, and decided to move on. 'Have we located the Boots of Freedom?'

'Not yet, but the shiny new fic-stealing hacking algorithm program thingy ought to throw up lots of nice Disc missions for us to steal and give us an opportunity to find them.'

'You're proud of that program, aren't you?'

'Exceedingly,' said Pads smugly.

[BEEEEEEAAAAARDEEEEEEP!]

'Is that a Disc mission?' asked Trojie eagerly, as Pads made for the console.

'Nope,' said Pads, a trifle evasively.

'Bugger. A legitimately-assigned mission, then? Not LOTR again? Please?'

'...nooo...'

'What is it?'

'SGA Sue.'

'Sue ... waitaminute. That's neither Disc nor bad slash. And SGA ... That's that programme with that weird beardy bloke off Baywatch that you moan in your sleep about in, isn't it? You've reconfigured the hacking programme to pick up missions with beards in, haven't you!?'

'Er. Possibly. The reconfigured beep should have given you a clue.'

'And now we have to deal with an honest-to-Glod Sue, which you know I hate, in a continuum you know I have no idea about ... and there's a bloody beard to top it off! I so hate you.'

'Look on the bright side,' Pads said, scanning the Words. 'At least you'll have a break from my wandering hands.'

Muttering under her breath, Trojie began shoving all the accoutrements of an assassination into the Bag. That done, she paused by the Disguise Generator.

'What?' Pads asked, noting her partner's expression, which was about 80% grumpy but also had a fair degree of utter bewilderment colouring it.

'I have no idea about this continuum. What disguises?'

'Random scientists. And not the lab coat sort.'

'What other sort is there?'

'Er. Beige trousers and a blue jumper. And a badge with your country of origin on the sleeve.'

'Roger,' Trojie said, twiddling the buttons in an attempt to achieve the desired effect. 'You know we have no weapons, right?'

'We'll think of something. Come on, I want to see the Beard.'

'Your fetishes never cease to truly repulse me, you know that?'

'It has been brought to my attention, yes,' said Pads, opening a portal. 'But then, it's not like I mind.'

The two Agents stepped through the portal into dense vegetation.

'Ow! It prickles!'

'It always astounds me that Suethors haven't worked out that vegetation doesn't really grow like this,' said Trojie, trying to unwind a tangle of liana from around her boot. 'Have they never seen a bloody forest before? How do they think the local wildlife moves around?'

'Matter transmitter?' asked Pads irritably, fighting her way out of the thorn bush that she'd stepped into. Then; 'Ooh, look! Ronon!'

'Who?'

'Beard!'

'...Right. One speck of drool from you, missy, and it's the leash. I mean it!'

'...spoilsport.'

They regarded the canon characters for a few moments.

'Since when is putting your hand into a footprint a recognised aid to tracking?' asked Trojie, bewildered. 'And what's with all the full stops? Sentence fragment alert!'

Pads looked up, attempting to find an empty patch of sky in which to allow her eyes to unfocus so she could read the Words. When that failed, she turned her attention to the undergrowth, and tried to read there. 'They're not exactly fragments,' she pointed out. 'Not in a totally inaccurate way. Just in a really stupid, jerky, breaking-the-flow sort of way.'

'Hmm.' Trojie didn't look convinced. A whining voice distracted her, and she looked around.

'Who's that?'

'Rodney McKay. Genius, irritable bastard, totally in-character at the moment. Just ignore him.'

'Roger, boss.'

'Ronon's not, though,' Pads complained, as the canon in question 'unleashed the death glare he kept in special reserve just for Rodney'. 'He likes Rodney. Especially if this is after Tao.'

'Right,' Trojie said, nodding in utter incomprehension.

They followed the canons down the track for a moment, and then, with a yelp, Pads tripped over.

'What the hell was that?' she asked, rubbing her shin and glaring back at the track behind her. In the middle of the path, the letters "SGA" sat, emanating a faintly smug air insofar as she could tell.

'Scene divider. And a really stupid one at that.' Trojie looked ahead, but the canons had already disappeared. 'Bugger. Where'd they get to?'

'Disappeared to make way for some exposition,' Pads replied, glaring at the Words.

'Am I likely to understand the exposition?' Trojie hauled her partner to her feet.

'Doubtful, so we'll just charge for the insinuation that all of Atlantis takes recreational drugs and I'll spare you the bitching.'

'Thank you. Shall we catch them up?'

'Suppose we'd better. The Sue's up ahead, somewhere.'

Trojie groaned, and they continued their trek.

Half an hour later, they found the canons bickering over the whereabouts of the Wraith they were tracking. Trojie watched them, while Pads kept an eye on the Words. After a predictably short time, she began to splutter indignantly.

'Please,' her partner said, handing over the notebook and pen, 'just write it down and spare me the rant. I wouldn't understand it anyway.'

'But... but she's calling Teyla and Ronon alien cohorts! Aside from the fact that makes them sound disturbingly like prostitutes, they're 100% human!' She frowned. 'Well. Except the bit of Wraith in Teyla.' Trojie cocked an eyebrow. 'Did the author miss the memo about ancient races populating galaxies with humans, thus saving the special effects budget for funky explosions?'

'I'm interested in these speech tags,' Trojie said, carefully avoiding the rhetorical question. 'Y'know, normally when you want to say 'X said' in a different way, you'd use a synonym for 'said' or a word that means something to do with speech. Not replace the speech tag totally with an action tag. It ... just doesn't work. Am I right in assuming that this Rodney character is not normally given to excess clumsiness to the point of threatening his friends with his own ineptitude?'

'When the show started, he was your standard uber-smart geeky scientist. Got them into a spot of bother. But after several years on a 'gate team facing daily perils and certain death and running for your life a lot, a bit of physical co-ordination is sort of unavoidable.'

'Right. So explain this.' And she waved a hand at the canons. McKay, bringing up the rear, burst through the last line of vegetation and smacked into Teyla.

'Hmm. At a guess I'd say it's Rodney-bashing. And while a bit of Rodney-mocking is wholly to be expected, bashing is not.'

'Excellent. A charge.'

'Indubitably.'

'Oh, look!' Trojie pointed across the ravine, to where lush flora was shaking.

'First sight of the Sue,' said Pads. 'And she's ... a teenager? With soft features? But she's being used by the Wraith as a Runner!'

'By the who as a what?'

Pads opened her mouth to reply, thought a moment, and then sighed. 'This may take some explaining.'

'Then condense it.'

Pads gaped a moment, then made an attempt. 'Marilyn Manson lookalike space vampires have been hunting her for sport.'

'See? That wasn't so hard.'

'But... but...' Pads flailed ineffectually in Ronon's general direction. 'He was a Runner. Look at him!'

'Do I have to?'

'Yes. Note the big muscles, the power, the raw testosterone oozing from every pore, the- Ow!'

'Focus,' Trojie said, trying to rub some life back into her palm.

'If you were going to hunt someone for sport, and you wanted a challenge, which would you pick? Some wimpy little girl or some, some...'

'Great hulking glistening specimen of raw bearded manhood?'

'Yes, exactly.'

'So, typical Sue then.'

'Pretty much. And apparently the Sue can fly?'

'I think the Author means 'runs fast', but it's very badly used.' And indeed, the Sue had
sprouted gossamer wings, with which she fluttered back over the bushes.

'There's a startling resemblance to a Gelfling,' Trojie noted.

'And it appears that the Stupid Generator has been cranked up,' said Pads. 'Ronon's running around in full view of a dart.'

'Stupid Generator?'

'Just as it sounds. An Ancient artifact that sends out waves of stupidity that infect the canons and give them the cognitive and intellectual faculties of a three year old on drugs.'

'And a dart is? I'm guessing not the things I used to make of paper on the school bus?'

'Wraith one-man ship, fully equipped with funky teleportation device for culling the herds.'

'I will resist the urge to ask 'herds of what?' and we'll move on. To the Sue leaping a ravine and landing on the side Our Heroes are on, which is for some inexplicable reason thirty feet lower than the other side - has no-one else ever studied geology? - and only breaking her leg. Instead of her neck, which would be preferable.'

'She's a SUE. What do you expect?'

'I expect ...' Trojie sighed. 'This, I guess.' She gestured at Ronon The Bearded Wonder, who went bounding off after the Sue despite the fact that the deadly ship-thing was still around.
'He's not usually given to pointless heroics, is he?'

'Nope.'

'Is he reckless enough to be in full view of an enemy ship?'

'Definitely not, unless he absolutely had to be.'

'And would he disobey someone I assume is a superior officer if said officer told him to abandon an apparently fruitless rescue operation?'

'I presume you mean Sheppard? Sometimes. Depends. Ronon's not military, well, not Earth military, he doesn't actually have to follow orders. Him and Teyla use their discretion when the moment calls for it. This is definitely not one of those moments.'

'So this rescue of the Sue is completely out of question?' Trojie asked, peering at the canons curiously.

'With a Wraith ship about? She's only a kid, Sheppard'd probably try to rescue her. Ronon'd be paying more attention to how he can take the ship down. But, really, they wouldn't risk themselves like that. They'd try to take the dart down, probably, and then rescue her.'

'So, charge for making them do stupid things for no reason.'

'And mischaracterisation, don't forget that.'

'I'll take your word for it,' said Trojie, scribbling furiously.

The canons now had the Sue, and the Wraith ship mysteriously flew into a nearby fern and disappeared.

'How does that work? I swear that ship was bigger than that one plant,' said Trojie puzzledly.

'That's what happens when the Suethor says that the ship 'vanished into the fronds'.

'Ah. I knew there had to be a reason.'

'Interestingly, Sheppard is in character,' said Pads. Trojie raised a questioning eyebrow, and Pads pointed out the appropriate character.

'Oh, good,' said Trojie. 'That's one less to exorcise, right?'

'For now. Oh, and Rodney appears to have retained at least a vestige of his mind,' the Animagus added, as the character in question raised a salient point; that the Wraith using a child as a Runner made little to no sense. Ronon got offended at the suggestion that he was large and muscular only moments later. 'You know, I think Rodney's Agent material,' said Pads. 'He's picking right at the main problem with this whole situation. Man's got a brain,' she said proudly, 'and he's managed to retain it in the face of Aura of Smooth too. W00t.'

'Don't start doing the victory dance yet,' said Trojie gloomily. 'After all, your muscular beardy-weirdy there is all Sued.'

'True.' Pads frowned, then brightened up a bit. 'But we'll have to neuralyse him, which means I'll have chance to pinch one of his dreads!'

Before Trojie had chance to once more insult her partner's proclivities, the greenery around them faded, to be replaced by generic grey. 'Author's note?' she asked, just before the Vox Dei announced chapter two.

A/N: Early update. I had some extra time.

'That's not extra time,' Pads complained. 'It's time you should have spent studying Sues and how to avoid them.' The author's note ignored her, and, after a moment, chapter two began.

She woke to a sky full of stars, so bright they scorched little suns in her baby blue eyes.

Trojie snorted derisively. 'A scarrred retina is nothing to laugh at. Why deliberately blind your Sue?'

'Maybe she's going to be one of those Sues that magically gets psychic powers to make up for blindness?'

'Hmmm. Ack, more of these bloody scene dividers.' Trojie rubbed her shins and glared at the SGA pulsating on the floor.

'Ack! Ronon!'

'What?'

'He's empathising with the Sue!'

'Watch out, scene divider!'

'Get off me, you spastic.' Pads pointedly picked up her feet and stepped carefully over the letters. 'See?'

'They creep up on us, I swear.'

The Stargate opened negotiations with the space-time continuum, a notoriously rigid player, but the Gate was no novice.

'Did that make any kind of sense? I mean, I'm not in this fandom, but it sounds very odd.'

'Er. I'm no astrophysicist, and my knowledge of Einsteinian physics floundered round about the time I realised the universe might have started itself. But I've a sneaking suspicion, given that the 'gate can send matter to a different galaxy in a matter of seconds, that it doesn't so much negotiate with spacetime as sort of sidestep it. How about we charge for retarded metaphors?'

'I'm game,' Trojie said, jotting down the charge before glancing around. 'Where are we now?'

'Gateroom of Atlantis. We seem to have totally skipped the description of how the team and the Sue got back. Did you portal us when I was distracted?'

'Nope.' Trojie added another charge to the notebook, this one pertaining to literary skills that were not so much demented as completely lacking. Pads turned her attention to the wormhole itself, allowing her eyes to unfocus so she could frown suspiciously at the Words.

'Ah,' she said at last. 'That would be because they're not in fact here.'

'They're not? Then why are we?'

Pads shrugged. 'There's bugger all description, but so far as I can tell, that woman,' she pointed towards a nondescript doctor striding purposefully up the ramp towards the 'gate, 'is about to go, um, go to a world with active Wraith on it so she can, er, look at the Sue, tell Ronon off for stunning her, and generally piss about for a while.'

'...Right. Is this normal military procedure for this continuum?'

'Most emphatically no.' Pads frowned again as the 'gate disengaged. 'They need to take the tracker out, but...' She sighed, and then began banging her head repeatedly against the nearest wall.

'But what?' Trojie asked, making no attempt to intervene. Some things just had to be beaten out of an Agent's system. After a few minutes, Pads desisted, and fumbled in her pocket for precious, sanity-giving nicotine.

'Look,' she announced at last, fumbling for a lighter. 'They're going to be bloody ages there, and absolutely nothing's going to happen. Let's go find a laptop.' And with that, she strode purposefully from the gateroom. After a moment's indecision, Trojie trotted after her.

***

If the Agents hadn't been cloaked by canon, any passers-by would have overheard a conversation largely composed of 'Who's that? What's he doing? Why? Who's she? What's wrong with his eyes? And what the hell is that thing? Why do his trousers lace up at the back?' and terse responses. Eventually the talk petered out.

'Okay, I think I've got it now. Removal of this tracking device thing is pretty simple,' said Trojie, as Pads started shutting down the pilfered laptop. 'And it doesn't require a vast hospital and a cast of thousands.'

'Precisely. And the patient in that case was Ronon, who is a good bit larger and more powerful than this Sue. So the constant 'being-knocked-out-for-her-own-good' is starting to grate on my nerves.' Pads took an overly aggressive drag on the cigarette she was holding, and ejected the DVD, returning it to its box set before stroking it reverently and slipping it back into the Bag.

'Maybe she doesn't want it removing,' Trojie suggested. 'Maybe she likes having hordes of space vampires chasing after her. Perhaps in her twisted mind that constitutes twu wuv.'

'Ah, Sue!logic,' Pads sighed. 'You never cease to surprise me. Come on, let's portal back to the stupid.'

Trojie obligingly twiddled the knobs on the RA, and they stepped through into what appeared to be a temporary field hospital. It was swarming with Marines, whom Pads glared at fiercely until Trojie dragged her into a likely looking tent.

'Is this enough stupid for you?' she asked, as Doctor Keller glared at Ronon for shooting her patient. Ronon claimed it was for said patient's own good. As the Sue looked as though she was made of matchsticks, it was the Agents' personal opinion that the stun setting was in no way for her own good, and that other methods of subduing her, such as gagging, drowning, or setting on fire, might be preferable. For the time being, however, they settled for watching her being sliced open.

“I don’t remember it taking this long,” Ronon growled, as Trojie tripped over another scene divider. They were cropping up with disturbing regularity, every few lines or so.

“Maybe cause the last time, you were passed out,” John suggested sagely.

'No, he bloody wasn't!' Pads spluttered indignantly. Trojie promptly clamped a hand over her partner's mouth and pulled her back out of the tent to observe the canons. 'And what the hell is Sheppard doing?' she asked, as soon as Trojie's hand was retracted.

'Getting between the lady and her dialogue, I believe,' said Trojie, blinking at the speech tag 'the giant' and wondering how it worked. 'Do you 'the giant' your words?'

'Not that I'm aware of,' said Pads, looking at the Words. 'No, my speech tags so far have been all along the lines of 'she said'. Yours too.'

“So how long do you figure we’ve got before the Wraith show up?”

'I thought they were already here. There was that dart thingy, in the fronds. And why does that man suddenly have bagpipes?' Trojie asked, pointing at McKay.

'Because his canonical piano would be a bit hefty to be carting around an offworld forest? Or, more likely, the author is branching out into even stupider speech tags.' Pads rolled another smoke, and sat down to wait for the doctor to finish. Trojie, meanwhile, busied herself by examining the nearby foliage, and muttering curses under her breath.

'Look at this. LOOK. She's just mushed a bunch of ferns together with some palm trees and ... is that a sequoia? Honestly. I've half a mind to grab her and rub her face in this patch of nettles...'

When she returned to her partner, Doctor Keller had exited the temporary surgical tent, and was explaining the Sue's condition.

“Her right Tibia is broken and she’s lost a lot of blood; it took a while to get her all stitched up. She’s also malnourished and dehydrated, but, other than that, she’s in pretty good health.”

'Tibia is not a proper noun,' Trojie complained, scribbling furiously. 'And malnutrition and dehydration in no way constitute good health.'

'This Suethor doesn't really have much of a clue about health. She's probably anorexic.'

'If she thinks that malnourished is a-okay, then yes. Oh GODS I am getting sick of this!'

Trojie picked herself up from the ground, where yet another scene divider had tripped her.

'Hush!' Pads hissed. 'The Sue's about to speak!'

“Get away,” her voice was a dull thud against the thick air. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t run. She was dead.

'Hallelujah!' Trojie capered happily at that news.

'Ring out bells, dance in streets!'

'Praise the- OW!'

'You know,' Pads commented, as Trojie picked herself up once more, and kicked the offending scene divider, 'you could try looking where you're going. And, as scene shifts go, they could be worse.'

'Alright then, you can fall over the next one. On balance, I think I prefer nausea. And who's that?' She pointed, to where Sam Carter had materialised beside the Sue's bed.

'Atlantis's boss, as of season four. Quite what she's doing here, I have no idea. I'm a little more worried about why they've seen fit to tie the Sue to the bed.'

'Wouldn't you?'

'Yes, but I know all about their uber-evil powers, thanks to your oh-so-informative lectures.'

'See! I told you they'd come in handy.'

'Yes,' Pads agreed. 'The labelled diagrams gave me decent nightmare fodder for weeks.'

'I thought the Sue diagrams were at least better than the Annotated Legendary Badfic Squick?'

'...thank you, I'd forgotten about those.'

'Sorry.'

They watched the action in silence for a moment.

'Bloody weak doctor,' Pads commented, as the doctor failed to restrain a malnourished and effectively one-legged fourteen year old girl, and had to be assisted by Ronon.

'She's speaking awfully Gandalfy,' Trojie said, as the Sue declaimed 'They will come'.

'As that's the only non-monosyllabic thing she says for bloody weeks, I think the overdramatic tone is probably par for the course. Oh Glod...' Before their eyes, the power of Grammar meant that John turned into a woman for a moment, and glared at Ronon.

The Sue was released from her restraints because she was awake. The logic of this defied both Trojie and Pads.

'So, when she's asleep she has to be restrained because she might escape, but now that she's awake that won't happen?'

'Apparently.' Pads's current cigarette was pretty much entirely gone already. It seemed to visibly shorten as she watched the canon characters. 'Watch out, Author's Note,' she added, clamping her hands over her ears. Trojie did likewise.

A/N: And, another early update. All for the cause of shirking my homework. Thanks for everyone's support in my continued efforts to ignore school. :D

'So lack of homework leads to increased production of Sues?'

'But I never did any homework,' Pads pointed out. 'And I never created a Sue in my life.'

'When you were fourteen you never did any writing at all,' Trojie said, not unreasonably. 'You were too busy getting up to unspeakable mischief with Snape's underwear.'

'Ah, memories...' Pads grinned. 'I still have the scar, you know.'

'I don't want to know,' Trojie amended, and busied herself with the Words.

'Can we portal, anyway? There's three days of the Sue resolutely refusing to speak, and it looks bloody boring.'

Trojie cast an appraising glance at the canons, then shrugged.

'Okay then. I'm not down with boring. And this way maybe my shins will have time to recover.'

***

When the two Agents stepped out of the portal, it was into a naming scene. Apparently the Sue hadn't told them her name. So they decided to find one for her, like she was a puppy.

“Mary,” Rodney declared firmly.

“No, no, no. That’s all wrong for her. It should be something with spunk,” John countered.


Pads coughed and spluttered for a moment and then croaked, 'They want to give a Sue a name that's evocative of semen?'

'Apparently,' said Trojie. 'But I'm advised that 'spunk' means something different in America. Something like 'courage'. Maybe?'

'I'm not convinced.'

'I think courage is a better option than semen, to be honest.'

'True. Much better imagery and so forth.'

'Hmm.' Trojie blinked as the canons looked at each other with A-grade dullard expressions. 'Are they usually this slow on the uptake? I mean, the idea that the Sue will only talk to Ronon is hardly logical, but surely they'd understand what Sam is trying to get at here?'

'Well, Rodney's a MENSA member, and John could have been one... So no, they wouldn't take this long to follow a line of thought.'

'Y'know, just once, I'd like to see a Sue make friends with someone she wasn't somehow magically destined to be bonded with.'

“Ronon is the only one she’s ever directly addressed. He’s the only likely candidate,” Sam shrugged.

'She said two words to him when he was nearest to her, and she'd just been told they had something in common. This is NOT evidence of an uber-speshul bond or any indication that she'll speak to him when she won't to anyone else!'

Trojie rummaged in the Bag and produced a leash. She waved it at Pads warningly. 'Are you going to do a mental on me? If I hear any extra exclamation marks creep into your dialogue it's the leash for you, missie.'

Pads raised both hands and attempted to look innocent. 'There's no need for that. And anyway, we're allowed to 'do mentals' on Sues, remember?'

'Yes,' Trojie conceded, 'but not until we've completed the charge list. How soon until the next one, by the way?'

Pads scanned the words, then fished the RA out of the Bag. Conjuring a portal, she ushered her partner through.

***

Ronon was practically hand-feeding the Sue. After an assurance that dinner would be 'Pot Roast', which ought not to have been capitalised, he went through to join his teammates. Trojie and Pads followed, both managing to avoid the 'SGA' scene divider, and arrived in time to hear:

“Mmmm…yeah. Winifred?”

“Are you kidding? After the grief you gave me over Francine?”

“Kithra?” Ronon stepped into the briefing room.

“That’s kind of nice,” John nodded.

“It is a lovely name,” Teyla agreed.


'Actually it's kind of stupid,' said Pads.

Trojie nodded. 'It's a Sue name. Were you expecting something with some kind of logic, or etymology, or failing that, a name that anyone else in the entire known universe would ever be called?'

'Point taken. Is this scene over already? This author knows nothing about writing, does she?' asked Pads, stubbing out the cigarette on a scene divider and getting out another. 'Scenes are meant to actually be long enough to breathe in.'

'Er, no? She's a Suethor. Why on earth would she have to know anything about writing?' Trojie looked puzzled. Pads just shrugged.

'Hope springs eternal?'

'You've still got a lot to learn about Sues, haven't you?'

'May it take me a long time to learn,' Pads prayed. 'Mind the sce- Oh.'

With a longsuffering sigh, Trojie hauled herself once more from the floor, cursing the scene dividers unto the umpteenth generation.

'Why is Ronon bleeding profusely?'

'Apparently he's been beaten up?'

'What?' Pads looked puzzled. 'Oh, the Marine-training. Yes, that's regular. But he doesn't normally bleed.'

'I have no idea. But as it's only a fleshwound, apparently that's okay,' said Trojie. 'I'm having 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' flashbacks.'

'Please, don't hesitate to refrain from quoting.'

'Spoilsport.'

'This Sue is trying to have some kind of magical bond with Ronon, and I'm supposed to be in a good mood?'

'Well, no-'

'Precisely.'

“She said anything yet?”

“About what?”

“Well, for starters, how she survived running from the Wraith?”

Ronon shrugged, “She’s a Runner.”


'That's not an answer.'

'If we're going to be pedantic, this isn't a scene either. It's just a few lines of pointless dialogue about how speshul the Sue is.' Trojie sniffed. 'Do we get to kill her soon?'

'We're only halfway through,' Pads said, patting her partner's arm in a soothing sort of way. Trojie looked woeful. 'Look, it's not that bad,' Pads added. 'I can only see two... no, three major charges. And then it's maiming time!'

'Can we portal to them? I'm getting really bored.'

'Certainly.'

One portal later, the Agents were staring in disgust at Major Charge No. #1. It came in the form of the Sue, predictably enough. She sat on a bed in the infirmary watching Ronon take apart his gun for some inexplicable reason.

'Is that our charge?' Trojie wanted to know.

'No, this is,' Pads answered, indicating the Sue as Ronon wandered off to listen to McKay's girly scream. 'Although you should probably note the continued McKay-bashing too.'

'So, what are we looking at?'

'The gun.'

As they watched, the Sue lay back against the pillows, and the gun put itself back together in the blink of an eye.

'Magical powers?' Trojie wondered.

'Just extra-speshul mechanical ones, I think, combined with really shit writing.'

Trojie eyed the gun. 'It can't be that hard to put back together.'

'Well, no, but where's the Sue learned anything about guns? Particularly Satedan ones? She was only six when that world was culled, so even if she comes from there, she's hardly going to be fully trained in their firearms.'

'Magical... powers...' Trojie muttered, scribbling a note. 'Onwards?'

'To the laboratory! And mind the - Never mind.' Pads hauled Trojie off the floor again, and dragged her disgruntled partner off in the direction of the science labs.

'Er, are dressing gowns normal scientific attire in this continuum?' Trojie asked when they got there, pointing at McKay.

'No. She's bloody bashing him again, making him look ridiculous for no good reason ...'

The two Agents watched some Suedo-banter for a moment, before Trojie thought of another pertinent question.

'...I thought this Rodney guy was supposed to be one of the finest scientific minds in the universe, or something?'

'He is, yes.'

'And that this whole Stargate guff was some kind of military endeavour?'

'Er, broadly speaking, in the sense that it's not at all, yes.'

'So why are their top scientists working on a coffee machine? And failing?'

'I did mention the Rodney-bashing, yes?'

'Yes?'

'She's belittling him with stupid projects. And ... oh Glod. The Sue's just put it back together. Something that neither Rodney nor Zelenka can fix, this Sue can fix. That's a charge and a half.' Pads grabbed the notebook and started to scrawl frantically across it. 'Mechanical aptitude my arse. The damned thing had exploded. I don't see any welding tools, do you?'

'No, but I can see ever such a pretty Remote Activator...' Trojie suggested, going for the Subtlety of the Year Award and failing abysmally.

'Alright, alright.'

***

Major Charge No. #2 occurred in the mess hall. Or at least, that's where Pads assumed it was occurring. Given that the Words didn't state any location more specific than table and buttered roll, it could have been anywhere. She pulled Trojie over to a table next to the canons, and they sat down to eavesdrop.

“I don’t get it,” John stopped mid bite. “How’d she survive all this time”

'Give the man a medal,' Pads muttered. 'First intelligent thing anyone's said in this entire damned fic.'

'Shame he had to say it with such a ridiculous speech tag,' said Trojie. 'It looks kind of painful.'

Pads twisted round, to see Sheppard's mouth contorted strangely and frozen as though mid-word. 'Has he been like that long?'

'Only since he started to speak, poor chap.'

They were interrupted by the arrival of McKay, who positively capered up to the table, waving an envelope and grinning maniacally. Pads snatched the notebook from Trojie's hands, as the latter was too entranced by the unco-ordinated clowning to note any charges at this point.

'Making McKay excited about something that's not a ZPM,' she muttered as she wrote, before glancing across the table at Trojie. 'Are you alright?'

'It's sort of hypnotic...' Trojie murmured, observing the flailing.

'It's also totally out of character, except when there's an incredibly powerful energy source or a Nobel prize in the immediate vicinity. Have you got the CAD?'

'Since when did we actually use a CAD?'

'Since we got into a Suefic rather than a slashfic?'

'Fine.' Trojie scrambled through the bag to produce their CAD. She pointed it at Rodney and was completely unprepared for what it did next, which was explode violently. 'OW!'

'Shut up, you spastic, they'll hear you.'

Trojie paused in the act of sucking on her burnt fingers to glare daggers at her partner. 'This is your fault.'

'Is not.'

'Is too.'

'Is not - Watch out for that sce- Glod almighty, woman, did you take clumsy pills this morning?' Pads hauled Trojie once more to her feet and dusted her off matter-of-factly, as they took stock of the scene. The Sue had been handed several boxes by an apparently ADHD Rodney, and had to be reassured that they wouldn't attack her, before:

She pulled the box forward, quickly worked out the trick latch and began extracting the puzzle blocks.

This time Pads hoisted Trojie over her shoulder and stepped over the SGA scene divider pointedly before setting her partner down in the next scene.

'I'm not piggy-backing you through the rest of this fic, so you'd best work out how to notice those things, alright?'

'It's not my fault! I swear, the little buggers creep up on me deliberately...'

'Focus, please. We have more charges to collect.'

“So, she did well then?” John rose from his chair.

“Twenty puzzles in just under an hour,” Sam concluded, looking at her own watch.


'Is that even possible?'

Pads shrugged. 'I don't even know if it's a real test. But according to the Words, she's done these puzzles a lot faster than McKay could, despite presumably never having seen anything like them before, and also, incidentally, having been running around in uninhabited forests trying not to get et since she was a little kid, which is not the best environment for learning skills other than those intrinsic to survival.'

'So it's a charge then?'

'Charge for making her inexplicably smarter than McKay. And while you're at it, charge for her making the Chief Medical Officer follow her around like a lovesick puppy despite the fact that the CMO's got better things to do and the Sue's been given a clean bill of health.'

'Done. Onwards?'

Pads eyed the Words. 'I'd say let's portal, but the next scene is a scant six lines to establish the Sue can't read English, thanks to the show's makers really not putting enough thought into that whole 'the stargate translates other languages in your head' thing.'

'Race you through it?'

'Sure, but watch out for the -'

Pads's warning came too late, as Trojie jumped up from her seat, and ran towards the next scene divider. She vaulted it with fluid grace, but twenty spoken words didn't really give her enough chance to prepare for the next one, and she landed face-first on Sheppard's bed, swearing profusely, albeit quietly.

Pads caught her up, possibly stepping over the scene divider with a little more sarcasm in her stride than was strictly necessary, and hauled her into a corner of the small room.

'What's the problem here?' Trojie asked, trying to claw back some dignity. 'They're teaching the Sue English. I mean, typical Sue scene, making her the centre of attention, but ...' She shrugged. 'No big deal, right?'

'No, it is a big deal. Ronon isn't even from the Milky Way, let alone Earth, and suddenly he knows about how the I before E rule has exceptions? He definitely can't speak or read or write English, and that's something that quite a few native speakers have trouble with. Thank Glod you already exploded the CAD is all I can say.'

'So, character warping?'

'Just a tad. Whoops, scene ending agai- oh, I suppose you've probably worked that out.' Pads offered a hand to her prone companion. 'The Narrative Laws of Comedy are really dicking on you today, aren't they?'

'It's a conspiracy,' Trojie complained.

'Quite possibly. That or the Stupid Generator's affecting you as well as the canons. Speaking of which, there's one.'

'And the Sue,' Trojie added.

“Look at you. I’ll never be as strong as you,” she paused. “But, you’ll never be as fast as me.”

'This despite Ronon's longer legs, narrower hips, greater strength and endurance, and unbroken legs?'

As they watched, the Sue once more unfolded her gossamer wings, and made with all haste back down the corridor. Ronon ran after her.

'That's just cheating,' Pads complained, stepping over another scene divider into the mess hall and completely ignoring the thump as Trojie once more hit the floor. 'Have you considered getting your eyes tested again?'

'My eyes are perfectly fine, thank you. It's not my fault this continuum has it in for me.'

Pads ignored her, and glared at the canons, who were eating jelly.

Rodney lustily eyed the jello, “She breezed through the practical applications, but even with the reading lessons, she doesn’t know any of the laws.”

“So, she’s just acting on instinct?” John clarified.


'Jelly is Rodney's LO?' Trojie asked, looking a little confused and a lot revolted.

'Apparently so, and may I say this is the stupidest speech tag I have ever seen?'

'You may. And, on the subject of stupid, how the hell can mechanical aptitude be a survival instinct? For a start, an instinct is not necessarily an aptitude for something, and secondly, the idea of a survival instinct is that it is something that helps you fricking SURVIVE. Given she was living in some kind of jungle, how exactly does the ability to put together weaponry from a planet she's never been to help her?'

'Breathe, Trojie. Sheppard says they cannot blame her for having an instinct. I wasn't aware they were blaming her for anything.'

'Okay, why did the Sue just leap onto the table and stand on McKay's head?'

'To demonstrate her mad running-away skilz, I think.'

'And Ronon is chasing her ... why? Do they have parkour on Atlantis?'

'Not as far as I'm aware. This is just more bonding activity. Pah!' Pads spat noisily.

'So is she going to end up in Ronon's bed?'

'She'd bloody better not. And while we're on the topic of instincts, I don't care how universal grammar is, they're not going to be able to teach her to read English until they've taught her to speak it, which is going to be a bit difficult unless they can switch off the stargate translation thingy. They've absolutely no way of knowing what she hears when they point to a word and say it. It's like me saying "dog" and "god" and you hearing "chien" and "dieu". Me pointing at the letters and how they're similar isn't going to make any sense to you, because so far as you're hearing, they're not the same!' Pads took a deep breath. 'So maybe the Sue's doing what Teyla's presumably done in order to use the computers, so at least it's vaguely canonical, but it still FAILS, and either way it's going to take more than a few bloody minutes! And another thing-'

She was interrupted by a smack to the back of the head.

'Pads. Calm down. It's a sci-fi show, it doesn't have to make sense linguistically, just scientifically. And even then, not much. It could be worse. We could be in the Whoniverse.'

'The TARDIS translates written text too. At least it's consistent,' Pads muttered sullenly.

'Come on,' Trojie soothed. 'Only two more chapters. Let's get on.'

This time, Trojie's falling over the scene shift contrasted nicely with the Sue and Ronon galloping, flying, jumping, bounding and generally being needlessly athletic all over Atlantis.

'Charge for giving a city made of metal 'rafters'?' asked Trojie, waving the pen aimlessly.

Pads nodded. 'And also for saying that Ronon couldn't catch a fourteen year old girl.'

'Done.'

'She's a suspicious little thing - she thinks the Wraith can get her in Atlantis?'

'And this is laughable?' asked Trojie uncertainly.

'Well they do turn up every so often, but the idea of them turning up to get her specifically, given she's had her tracker out, is laughable.'

'Is this the end of the scene?'

'Yes. Why?'

'I'm going to stand still. We'll see if that foxes this bloody continuum.'

The two Agents stood stock still as the scene changed around them.

'Oof!' Trojie fell backwards; the scene divider had smacked her in the backs of her legs and tripped her. 'That is blatantly unfair.'

'No, blatantly unfair is that,' said Pads, pointing to where the Sue and Ronon were having a heart-to-heart.

'How is stilted conversation unfair?'

'He's all ... sweaty,' Pads breathed. Trojie frowned.

'And I thought you were doing so well, up to now.'

'Hey, I haven't even tried to grope. Quit slandering me.'

'Quit subjecting me to your Lust Objects then. Where's the next charge, anyway?'

After a quick glance at the Words, Pads led the way to the conference room. Inside, the canons, minus the Sue, were having a very serious discussion about the Sue's desire to visit a planet which may or may not have been her home world. It was a stupidly named and uncanonical world, so, while waiting for the inevitable thump, curse, and laboured rise of Trojie, Pads turned her thoughts to what they could do with it.

'Pads? Your eyes are all glazed. What's up?'

'Where can we get one of those Sun Crusher thingies?'

'We can't. They only give them to DOGA members, and you have to do a test and everything.'

'Damn. Oh, wait a second. How about we portal it to the Doranda system for Trinity?'

'The where for what?'

'Don't worry. Can you think of a good way to portal an entire planet, though?'

Trojie tilted her head to one side and contemplated. Her eyes lit up. 'Yep.'

'Yep?'

'Yep.'

'Details?'

'Don't worry. I'll take care of it. Come on, we still have lots of stupid to eyeball.'

Pads obediently turned to the canons, and listened intently, for all of ten seconds.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Rodney stared at Ronon. “If JTS-4FR isn’t her home, why does she want to go back there?

'JTS-4FR?' Trojie echoed, as Pads resumed her usual indignant spluttering. 'As planet names go, that's really unimaginative. Why's it offending you so much?'

'Can you think ofany astronomical features that begin with the letters JTS?'

'Um. No?'

'The P worlds are planets, the M worlds are moons,' Pads sighed. 'It's really not that hard. Which makes me wonder who on earth JTS is, and why she thinks we care that she fancies FR, whoever that may be.'

'So Rodney's got a point then. This doesn't make any sense.'

Ronon leaned forward. “If she wants to go back there, who are we to stop her?”

“She’s a child, Ronon,” Teyla weighed in softly. “We would be exposing her to the Wraith.”


'This would be a bad thing why?' Trojie wondered.

'It wouldn't. And she'd be no more exposed than anyone else in Pegasus. So unless they're suggesting the entire population of the galaxy, or at least those parts of it that are under the age of majority, should be relocated to Atlantis for their own safety...'

'Which would be a little crowded. And also disturbingly reminiscent of the Aboriginal Stolen Generations.'

“She survived on her own for three years. She doesn’t need us to take care of her.”

Trojie frowned and tapped the notebook with her pen. 'Didn't the Sue say earlier that she'd been starving herself while running?'

'Yep.'

'So until they got her here she hadn't eaten in three years?'

'...I think the Suethor didn't think that through.'

'Agreed.'

let’s be honest, if you take her offworld, odds are, she’s going to run.”

“None of that matters,” Ronon rolled up out of his chair. “If she wants to leave, we can’t keep her here.”


'Is it just me, or was that needlessly melodram- OUCH GLOD DAMMIT ALL AND A BUCKET OF BILLYWIGS!'

'Want me to kiss it better?'

'Not in the slightest,' said Trojie sharply, rubbing her shins. 'Tell me, does everyone in this 'verse endlessly rag on this 'John' character?'

'No. Only McKay.'

Kithra stared at the Gate.

“Nothing to worry about,” John reassured her. “We’ll be right there with you.”

Ronon glared at him.


'Okay, now Ronon is jealous over the Sue. This is a bad, bad sign,' said Trojie.

'And they most likely wouldn't be there, anyway. In all likelihood, if the Sue were that desperate to go, Ronon would take her, and either Teyla or John would go with them, and Rodney would stay in his lab and get on with his extremely important work. That doesn't involve faffing around over coffee machines, I might add. They wouldn't send a whole team out on a babysitting mission.'

The next few minutes were spectacularly pyrotechnic, as the Stargate burst into flames thanks to the Suethor not knowing the difference between 'activated' and 'ignited', and then the canon getting confused and dropping the team into the core of the uncanonical planet, thanks to the phrase 'the heart of Oghbor'.

Pads and Trojie watched the fireworks cynically, protected by canon, until the Words made it plain that they were supposed to be on the surface.

Once on the surface, the team managed to forget all about protecting the poor innocent little Sue and left her to her own devices.

'Should we kill her now?' Trojie asked, glaring at the Sue as the canons disappeared into the distance.

'Um, no,' Pads said, sounding a little worried. 'We should probably hide.'

'Why?' Trojie asked, but Pads didn't answer, electing instead to haul her partner into the cover offered by some nearby unidentified foliage as the stargate activated once more.

'Because the Wraith are coming?'

'The life-sucking space vampires? Hiding sounds like a good plan.'

'Hmm,' said Pads, peering at the Words. 'We're going to have to get on that ship.'

'We are? You mean with the vampires?'

'There's shedloads of chargeable offences going to be happening on there. The canon ought to cloak us.'

'On what are you basing this 'ought'?'

'...Narrative Laws and a lot of hope?'

'I thought so.'

'Come on, the more charges we collect the quicker we can kill her,' wheedled Pads, waving the Remote Activator at the Wraith ship. 'It won't hurt, promise,' she added, mentally crossing her fingers.

'Alright,' said Trojie after a beat. 'You first.'

Pads leapt out straight into the culling beam. Trojie ... didn't. She watched her partner disappear into the sweeping beam, and then rummaged through the Bag and produced a second Remote Activator.

'She can get those charges,' muttered the Bad Slasher to herself. 'I'll deal with that planet. To HQ!'

***

It took a good bit of careful navigation and the aid of Absinthe for Trojie to get to the appropriate area of HQ without running into either someone she knew, or someone from DOGA. She badly didn't want to get caught by one of the Agents whose official job it was to burn things while pinching one of their missions.

Negotiations with shadowy figures were, uh, negotiated, palms were greased with barterable items, and Trojie found herself talking with a redheaded man who said he could most certainly pilot a spaceship and drop eight portal-activator-containing satellites in geosynchronous orbit around an uncanonical planet. He could even help her cobble the satellites together.

***

Date: 2008-09-15 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agent-tomato.livejournal.com
Does "spunk" really mean...

Sweet Eru, I am never using that word again. Ever.

Date: 2008-09-15 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tea-fiend.livejournal.com
Had you never before wondered why the English people all start giggling when the Americans start talking about people with spunk?

Date: 2008-09-16 07:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lady-rilwen.livejournal.com
I knew both meanings, and found them amusing.

Date: 2008-09-16 07:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agenttrojie.livejournal.com
Excellent. We were aiming for amusing :)

Date: 2008-09-15 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agenttrojie.livejournal.com
Yes, it does. Sorry.

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