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(Disclaimer: The original concept of the PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. “Mass Effect Abridged (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4958208/1/Mass_Effect_Abridged) belongs to Midnight Hawk. Mass Effect and its various properties belong to Bioware. Admiral Pansy belongs to the PPC collective community. Danny Richardson and Laura Dukes belong to me. Much thanks to Miah for betaing. The following story contains bad language.)

Every waiting room everywhere in existence has a similar layout: threadbare chairs, cheap copies of real paintings, and coffee tables covered with magazines from several months ago. It was on one of these tables that Laura had propped her feet. “Glaring at the ‘No Smoking’ sign is no going to make it go away, Danny,” she said to the blond agent sitting nearby.

“I suppose.” Danny leaned back in his chair, defeated by the laws of reality. “How much longer do you think he’s going to be?”

“Hard to tell with the Eff-Tee-Bee. Personally, I think they just like to make us wait around for the hell of it.”

“I think they just make YOU wait around for the hell of it.” Danny smiled at his partner as she lazily flipped him the bird. “You don’t think he’s going to ask us to do a mission for him, do you?” he went to ask.

“Frigging well hope not. I would rather face a dozen Sues than sit through another Bad Parody.”

“Have you heard anything specific about Admiral Pansy? You know, what he’s like? ”

Laura shook her head. “I heard a few rumors from back in my Intelligence days, mostly about how he was far and away the craziest of the bunch.”

“Even crazier than the ones that went rogue?”

The sound of a bosun’s whistle suddenly split the air as the door to the central office swung open. Entah! cried a voice from the other room.

“There are different types of crazy, you know,” Laura whispered as she stood up.

Ah, Agents Dukes and Richardson! the flower exclaimed as the two agents entered his office. He gave them a snappy salute, which caused the dozens of medals on his gaudy navy uniform to jingle in a very ‘wind-chime’ sort of way. Take a seat, wot wot!

Danny returned the salute, as did Laura after he gave her a prompting elbow nudge. “Thank you, Admiral Pansy,” he said.

No need to be so formal, Richardson! Admiral will do fine. Sit! Sit! The Head of the Department of Bad Parody gestured to chairs arranged in front of his desk.

The two Assassins sat down. “We got a message through our console that you wanted to see us immediately, Admiral?” Danny remarked.

Too right! the pansy cheerfully exclaimed. First things first! I just wanted to thank you for dealing with those two Left 4 Dead parody fics. Dem fine job, wot wot!

“Finally, somebody Upstairs that appreciates all our hard work!” Laura said.

Course I appreciate it! I even put in a suggestion to the SO that you both be given a week of vacay. A jolly little break, wot wot!

Danny’s face slowly split into a grin. “Really?”

“Hells YEAH!” Laura shouted with joy as she jumped out of her seat. “Danny! Get up and get moving. We’re spending a week doing as little positive work as possible. I ain’t brooking any debate on this.”

Yes, enjoy your week off! the Admiral suddenly interjected, his voice now laced with cunning. Once, of course, you do one last mission for me.

Both agents halted in their tracks. “Say that again?” Laura asked. The tone of her voice had dropped about 100 degrees in less than a second.

You’ll get a week of leave provided you do a mission for me. The Admiral began pacing behind his desk. You see, the lads and lassies in Intelligence recently sent my department a right corker of a bad parody. Normally, my fine fellows would handle it quick as you blink, wot wot! Trouble is, this fic’s set in a video game none of them are familiar with.

“That’s certainly a generous offer, Admiral.” Danny said. “The thing is, however, that…” He glanced over to Laura, who was muttering anti-Flower invectives under her breath. “…that we hate bad parodies. I mean, we really hate them. We don’t even like to think about them. So, thanks but no thanks.”

Really? The SO said you’d be champin’ at the bit for a mission in the Mass Effect universe.

“I’m sorry, Admiral, but OW!”

“Ignore my partner, Admiral!” Laura said with a manic grin on her face. She tightened her grip on Danny’s pinky finger. “He doesn’t speak for both of us. He’s crazy-drunk on Bleepka. Completely untrustworthy.”

“What?! You’re the one who’s AAAAGH OW OW OW!” The blond agent writhed in pain as Laura twisted his finger again. Her expression did not change.

Excellent! I’ll have the information sent to your RC immediately!

Laura saluted the flower with her free hand. “Glad to be of service, Admiral sir! We’ll get this mission wrapped up in no time!” She saluted again before dragging her whimpering partner out of the office. Only once the office door had swung shut behind them did she release her partner’s finger.

Danny shot his partner a death glare as he cradled his damaged hand. “Why?!”

“Mass Effect, Danny.”

“I thought you said that—”

The blond agent was interrupted when Laura grabbed his tie and yanked his head down to her eye level. “I love Mass Effect, Danny. If Mass Effect were a person, I would want to birth its children. I would gladly take any mission, no matter how disturbing the content, if it meant I could go to the Mass Effect continuum. So suck it up, ‘cause we’re doing this!” She pulled her partner’s face to within an inch of her own. “Got it?”

“…Yes, ma’am.”

“Sweet!” She let go of Danny’s tie. “Race you back to the RC!”

Back inside the office, Admiral Pansy buffed one of his medals on his sleeve. Dem fine agents, he said to himself. SO was right about them being a bit weird, though.

* * *


*A portal opens up in the middle of a grey void. Laura and Danny step out of it.*

Laura: Something doesn’t feel – wait, what the hell is wrong with my voice?! I can see myself talking!

Commander Shepherd: Hi, I am a badass space marine with a tragic past. My entire family was murdered by a cliché and it's haunted me ever since. I'm also the main character, pity anyone who meets me.

Laura: A scriptfic?! I thought those were banned from ff.net!

Danny: Right, ‘cause everyone on that site follows the rules to the letter. Hang on; I think I can fix this.

*Danny presses a few buttons on his Remote Activator. There is a blinding flash of light — and the two Assassins dropped into a pair of plush theater seats.

Laura looked around in the dim lighting. “Okay, what did you do? Where are we?”

“A movie theater.”

“Thanks, Captain Obvious. I didn’t realize that a big screen and dozens of seats equaled a movie theater. Anything else you want to point out, like how we’re sitting in chairs?”

“How about that mini right next to your foot? Is that obvious enough?”

“Mini?” Laura looked down. There was indeed a pint-sized Colossus walker marching around on the floor. “That must be ‘Commander Shepherd.’ Thanks for pointing that out, but that’s moving away from the bigger issues. This—” She waved her hand at their new surroundings. “—is not from any of the games.”

Danny shrugged. “Hey, I don’t know what happened,” he said. “Maybe this is how the RA adjusts to scriptfics.”

The screen suddenly began to flicker, as if it had been waiting for one of the agents to point that out. An opening iris revealed crudely drawn caricatures of Joker and a female Shepard, which both began to act out the fic.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Laura deadpanned.

Danny gave her a sickly grin. “Starting to regret jumping at this mission, huh?”

Joker: Hi, I am an excellent pilot with a quirky sense of humour who has worked with Joss Whedon in the past.
Shepherd: This sounds oddly familiar...
Joker: Also, my bones are made of green jello.


Laura sunk into her seat and moaned. “Oh sweet gods of Internet flame, it’s a Mass Effect bashfic.”

“There, there,” Danny gave her a little pat on the head. “At least we’ll be suffering in relative comfort. Maybe they have a snack stand around here.” He began craning his neck to look towards the back of the theater. Meanwhile, more Mass Effect characters were starting to appear on the screen.

Kaiden: I'm a biotic: I use mental kungu fu to shoot blue goo at red triangles.
Shepherd: That sounds dangerous, any side effects to this, Lieutenant?
Kaiden: Well lots of them are mentally unstable, prone to psychotic episodes and generally bugfuck insane.
Shepherd: ...
Kaiden: But I just get migraines sometimes, and they go away if I lie down.
Shepherd: That's a relief, for a second I was worried you might have some kind of character conflict and story arc. I want no back story or plot tension on my ship. Dismissed.


The redhead sat up. “No back story? No plot tension?” she growled. The two mini-Colossi at her feet – Commander Shepherd and Kaiden – scuttled away in a panic. “How can you just ignore Kaidan’s stories about his biotic training? His experiences there shaped his views on both aliens and humanity and so set him up as the perfect counterpoint to Ashley Williams! Oh, you are going to pay for that, story!”

“I don’t think this place has any doors,” Danny said, still peering into the darkness. “Probably doesn’t have any snacks either. Ah well.” He reached into his satchel and pulled out a crumpled bag. “Care for come NM&NMs?”

“Do you mind? I’m trying to stoke some righteous fury over here!”

“Suit yourself.” The blond Assassin poured some of the gaudy colored candies into his palm and began tossing them one at a time into his mouth.

Generic Squad Member: Oh shit, I wore my red shirt!
Kaiden: Noooooo, Generic Squad Memberrrr!
Shepherd: There's no time to bury generics: This! Is! WAR!


Danny rolls his eyes. “Oh joy. Now I can hear twice as many tired Internet memes in a single mission. What happening next?”

“The death of Nihlus. Or ‘Nihlis,’ according to this story anyway.” Laura muttered a few ripe curse words under her breath.

Danny glanced over at the three minis now hiding under a nearby seat. “At this rate, we’re going to have more Colossi than actually were present in the game. Is there an OFU at which we can drop off these things?”

Kaiden: Damn it! Who could have predicted that sending a mentor character alone into a war zone filled with psycho robots and undead androids could have gone so wrong?
Shepherd: It's out of our hands, soldier. He died like the way he was written: Quick and messily.


Danny looked down at the armrest he was sharing with Laura. She was gripping it so hard that her knuckles had gone white. “You sure you don’t want any candy?” he said.

“You’re in arms reach, Danny,” Laura snarled, her eyes locked on the screen. “That’s a position you really don’t want to be in right now.” Danny quickly leaned away from the seething young woman.

Saren: Someone else used the beacon? That was supposed to be my plot device, damn it! *trashes bedroom in violent but pubescent anger*
Matriach: I'm sensing hostility. *flashes boobs*


“Is she talking about Saren or us?” Danny asked as he shooed the latest mini away from his candy. Matriach beeped indignantly at him as it scuttled over to where the others were loitering. “Also, we’ve got another Star Trek pop culture reference. Apparently this fic has them confused with an actual sense of humor.”

He glanced over to where his partner was sitting. There was no reaction; no forthcoming quip or nasty insult to lighten the mood.

“That’s okay. I can handle the talking. You just sit there and fume.”

Laura continued her sullen silent act.

Danny sighed. “Laura, come on. Think back to the advice you gave me. Just push past all this junk and focus on how great it’ll feel once we finally bury this waste of words once and for all. This is just like any other mission.”

“No, it’s not.”

“What?”

“Are you deaf? I said no, it’s NOT!” Laura leapt up from her seat and began pacing back and forth in front of the screen. “It’s not just one Mary Sue or wildly out-of-character canonical that I can focus on. They have reasons for their actions! Incredibly selfish reasons, sure, but reasons regular people can identify with. Things like love or the desire to be a hero and all that BS. But this!” She pointed an accusatory finger towards the screen. “There is no basis for this! This is just insults and stupid jokes!”

Tali: Saren pants burneth mightily. I have a tape recorder built in to my elbow and recorded him saying horrible things about your moms.
Alpha Council: OMGWTFBBQ! How did we not see this coming?


“That’s not funny or clever! This continuum is being destroyed for no good FUCKING reason!” She snatched the bag of candy out of Danny’s hands and flung it at the screen. NM&NMs scattered everywhere as the minis fled for cover. Laura screamed in frustration and fell backwards into her chair. “You were right,” she said in a much quieter voice. “We should’ve just told the Admiral no. We should’ve just stuck to what we were good at.”

Silence fell across the theater – well, except for the babbling images on the screen.

Danny cleared his throat. “Well, first off, it’s nice to hear you say I was right for once.”

Laura gave a half-hearted chuckle. “A temporary lapse in my judgment.”

“Seriously though, Laura. I know how much you like Mass Effect. You emphasized that point to me pretty well.” He rubbed his slightly bruised pinky finger. “I know how much it can suck to have something you love, something you take very seriously, picked apart for petty or foolish reasons.

“However,” he continued. “I also think you need to keep these things in perspective. These continuums are not so fragile as to crumble into chaos from one badfic. At the end of the day, the Mass Effect universe will continue to thrive while this wretched little parody will be forgotten.”

“Then what’s the point of doing this?”

The blond agent thought for a moment. “Because it’s fun?”

“Fun?” The redhead gestured at the screen. “You consider this fun?”

“Okay, this mission is a bad example. But think about all the other stuff we’ve done! We’ve disguised ourselves as other creatures, seen brand new worlds, fought dangerous enemies, and snarked about it the entire time. For me, every day working with the PPC has beaten my entire life in the Real World hands down. Even the worst mission have had their bright spots for me.” He reached over the armrest and took her hand in his own. “Back during that Left 4 Dead trollfic, you told me what you did in situations like this. Now here’s what I do. Remember where you are and what you’re doing, then have a good long laugh.”

Laura looked up at the screen, then back down at Danny. “That is one seriously messed-up world view,” she finally said.

“Does it help?”

A smile slowly emerged on Laura’s face. “I suppose it does. A little anyway.”

“Good!” Danny let go of his partner’s hand as he stood up. “Then, as a PPC agent in good standing, I recommend that this exorcism be brought to a rapid close so as to facilitate your mental healing!” He reached into his satchel and pulled out twin copies of Mass Effect. “We can’t have you snapping after all the progress we’ve made here.”

Laura’s smile rapidly transmogrified into her regular smirk. “An excellent plan, Agent Richardson!” she said as she took one of the games from him.

They walked up to the display, where the deformed Mass Effect characters were still telling lame jokes and acting generally out of character. Danny raised his copy over his head. “I cast you out, unfunny humor!” he shouted as he brought the game down against the screen.

THWACK

The image on the screen flickered and began to crack.

“I cast you out, terrible characterization!” Laura shouted as she lashed out.

THWACK

The crack began to expand. The minis, all of which by this time had emerged from their hiding places, were leaping up and down in excitement.

Joker: AND MORE, MUCH MORE THAN THIS! I DID IT... MYYYYYYYY WAAAAAAAY!
Shepherd: Okay, that's it! Screw you guys, I'm going to bed!


“In the name of Bioware, we cast you out!” the two Assassins chanted together.

CRACK

“You know,” Danny said. “I think it’d be a good idea if we du—”

The screen exploded outward in a brilliant white light.

* * *


There are many nice things to be woken up by. A kiss is pretty high up on the list, as is any song where an acoustic guitar is prominent. A slap in the face ranks only slightly better than talk radio. Unfortunately, Danny got the slap. “Wake up, genius,” Laura said.

“Mrfle.” the blond agent said woozily as he sat up.

“Yeah, you probably should have ducked instead of just suggesting that we duck. You took a piece of badfic to the noggin.” Laura turned away from him for a moment. “How’s everybody else?” she shouted to the rest of the room.

There was chorus of murmurs from the figures standing up on shaky legs around Danny. He blinked a few times to focus his vision. “The canons?”

“Yep! The Bad Parody is exorcised. All that remains is to neuralize these folks and gather up the minis. They’re around here somewhere.” She reached down and pulled Danny to his feet.

“Sounds good to me.” He looked around again. “Uh… where are we now?”

“Lower deck of the Normandy. Look, the screen exploded, you fell over, and then we ended up here. Probably just a side-effect of the exorcism.” She watched as Danny leaned against the hull and gingerly inspected his injuries. “The Flowers are not going to be pleased that you ended the mission early. We’re probably in for a few punishment missions.”

“Good thing we’re getting a week off first.” He winced as touched a bruise on his scalp. “You seem to be in a much better mood.”

Laura leaned against the wall next to him. “I had a good long laugh while you were unconscious,” she said. “That helped.”

“Glad I could help, I guess.”

“Seriously though, it really did.” She leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Thanks.”

Danny smiled and looked away. “We should probably neuralize the canons. You know, before they decide to throw us out the airlock or something.”

“Good call.” She walked over to the center of the room and cleared her throat. “If you could all gather round, that’d be great! I understand you’re confused about what just happened. You probably remember saying really stupid things that you normally wouldn’t say.” There were some scattered noises of assent from the Normandy crew. Laura held up her neuralizer. “Fortunately, I can help. Everything will be taken care of if you just look right here.”
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October 2016

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